, held at the at 300 Dodge Ave., was called as part of a study examining the potential for new intermediate stations on the Chicago Transit Authority Yellow Line, an express route that currently runs through Evanston, directly from the Howard Street Terminal to a stop at 5001 Dempster St. in Skokie.
Potential stops include stations at Ridge Avenue, Asbury Avenue and Dodge Avenue. All are being assessed for physical constraints, public support and socio-economic factors.
The $275,000 study, funded 80 percent through a Congestions Mitigation and Air Quality grant administered by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, has consisted mainly of data collection to this point, but is a part of a larger project aimed at increasing access to local and regional employment.
If the project eventually moves forward towards construction, the CTA would monitor the building process and assume control over the stations at their completion, but the bill to build the proposed stops would fall solely on the City of Evanston.
City officials said that Skokie will likely pay near $18 million for the construction of a new Yellow Line Oakton station scheduled to open in fall 2011, but that the city received $10 million in CMAQ funding for the project (a Trib Local Skokie article puts the numbers at near $20 million in total costs, with $14 million in federal funds).
Evanston has sought out similar funding, applying for a portion of the $300 million CMAQ has opened up as part of a five-year funding plan.
Evanston officials said they chose the proposed Yellow Line stop locations after analyzing current transportation and land use conditions, as well as proximity to current CTA stops.
But some meeting attendees argued that the proposed Evanston Yellow Line locations continued a CTA trend of building stations too close together in communities that already had service within walking distance.
While potential Asbury and Dodge stops were largely supported, several residents took issue with the Ridge station, noting that it would be only 0.7 miles from the Howard stop and almost within sight of the Purple Line’s South Blvd. stop.
Rich Nemanich, a longtime Evanston resident living west of Dodge on Brummel Street, said that when he was working in downtown Chicago, he used to make the 35-minute walk to the South Blvd. station every day, and that people in his neighborhood and farther west were the most underserved by rapid transit, and hence most deserving of a new station.
“One criterion that I think is very important is simple fairness,” Nemanich said. “Which location best serves people who need it the most? I think it’s clear that the Dodge Avenue station is the one, simply because it’s the farthest away from any other public transportation. … I submit that St .Francis Hospital already has a stop on the Purple Line. I can see St. Francis Hospital from platform … It’s only a couple of blocks.”
A minority of residents voiced concerns over the Dodge station, as well. Some felt that the a mass transit station in the area would increase unwanted foot traffic and potentially bring a shady element with it, making public spaces like James Park unsafe for children.
Mary Ann Naghski, who has lived for 28 years in her home near the where the Dodge station is proposed to be built, said it was unfair to bring extra noise into her mostly quiet neighborhood.
“When I bought my home I knew the Yellow Line went by,” Naghski said. “Now it’s a whole different life you’re asking me to do … I guess my preference would be, not outside my bedroom window.”
Regardless of the current debate, Ald. Ann Rainey (8th Ward) stressed that it will likely be some time before any actual construction begins.
“The realization and construction of the station, if it’s determined to be feasible is far off,” Rainey said. “Talking privately among ourselves, some of the older members of the audience and myself, and we’re just hoping it’s still alive when it’s built. So, don’t hold your breath, but that’s not to say that this is not going to happen.”
The Yellow Line, also known as the Skokie Swift, opened in 1925 as a part of the Chicago Rapid Transit Company, a privately-owned rail service preceding the CTA. The line was closed in 1947 when the CTA took over operations, reopened in 1964 as part of a federally-aided mass transportation project and renamed the Yellow Line in 1993. During the original 1925 to 1947 run, the line made stops at existing Ridge Avenue, Asbury Avenue and Dodge Avenue stations.
Today, the City launched an online survey at its Yellow Line project website, encouraging residents to make suggestions as part of the ongoing public outreach process.
The next public meeting will be held in August at a yet-to-be-determined date and location.