FOX RIVER GROVE – People waiting for a Metra train in town now can do so in a little more comfort.
Officials from Metra and the village of Fox River Grove, among others, on Friday officially opened and dedicated the expanded station.
The $3.5 million project, which began in August of last year, includes an expanded platform to 640 feet from 330 feet, enough for an eight-car train.
A larger warming shelter replaced the older one and now includes vendor space and bathrooms.
A second warming area was added on the east end of the station. Workers repaved and restriped the existing parking lot.
The village contributed $82,400 toward the project to help pay for LED lights and parking lot work.
The project was meant to provide a safe, convenient and appealing train station that would better serve existing riders and attract new riders – and accommodate growth in future ridership.
“This is a major improvement, and I think it will shelter several generations,” said Jack Schaffer, the McHenry County representative on the Metra Board.
Among those at the dedication ceremony was interim Metra Executive Director Don Orseno, state Sen. Pam Althoff, R-McHenry, and state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, as well as members from the Fox River Grove Village Board, Metra Board and RTA Board.
Schaffer said he was a frequent user of the Fox River Grove station and remembers the days of riders standing shoulder to shoulder trying to keep warm.
Previously because the old platform was too short, some train cars couldn’t open their doors for passengers to load and unload.
“Hopefully that is a thing of the past,” Schaffer said.
Village President Robert Nunamaker, who also serves as the McHenry County representative on the Metra advisory board, said the revamped station is key to the village’s downtown redevelopment efforts.
“Many of our consultants have said you have to start with a major project, to build on that and make something people can identify with,” Nunamaker said.
Nunamaker pointed out the Fox River Grove station upgrade has been the only Metra project in the county in the last six to seven years, and said more money should go toward transit projects in the collar counties.
“There are many worthy projects in McHenry County we need funding for,” Nunamaker said.
Schaffer said there are proposed projects of adding a train yard in Woodstock, putting a station at McHenry County College, expanding service near McHenry, adding a station in Johnsburg and building a new station in Prairie Grove, among other things.
Sheryl Glenn Murray who owns the Morning Grind Cafe at the Pingree Road Station plans to open a new location at the Fox River Grove Metra station.
She said she hopes to open by Thanksgiving. In addition to selling coffee, Glenn Murray said she possibly might sell sandwiches.
“I would think there would be a lot of foot traffic,” Glenn Murray said. “It’s really pretty here. It’s a beautiful building.”
Fox River Grove parking prepay program
Friday also marked the beginning of Fox River Grove’s Metra prepay parking program. Commuters can have unlimited parking at the Fox River Grove Metra station by enrolling in the program for $30 a month. The monthly fee would be automatically withdrawn from the person’s checking or savings account the first of each month. Those who participate would then have tags to display in their vehicles.
For more information, call 847-639-3170.