The Evanston City Council voted Monday night to accept the study's findings, which recommended Asbury Avenue for a CTA Yellow Line Stop.
An engineering feasibility study commissioned by the City of Evanston in May 2010 to determine the city’s best location for a station on the CTA Yellow Line recently recommended Asbury Avenue, two blocks north of Howard Street, as the preferred position.
Evanston aldermen voted to accept the findings at Monday night’s City Council meeting, and, if they approve, will likely discuss how the city plans to secure funding for the train station.
Ridge and Dodge avenues were also proposed as potential locations, but Asbury Avenue was ultimately recommended after the sum of its evaluation criteria -- which included considerations of physical constraints, public support, environmental factors, cost, maintenance, ridership potential and economic impact -- found that a station at that location would cost significantly less to build and would have a greater impact on the surrounding neighborhood.
But even though the City Council approved the study’s decision and will seemingly opt to move forward with that plan, the station likely would not be completed for another four to six years, and the city would have to secure funds from federal and state programs to subsidize the costs of planning and construction.
The three phase plan would cost around $25 million, according to the study: $1 million to $1.6 million for an official preliminary engineering and environmental study by the Illinois Department of Transportation, $600,000 to design the station and $23 million for construction. Each phase is estimated to take one to two years.
Ald. Ann Rainey (8th Ward), whose ward would house the proposed station, said there was no guarantee the city would be able to find funding for the project.
Rainey also said that it made no sense that the Yellow Line -- which currently runs express from a Howard Street station in Chicago to a Dempster Street stop in Skokie -- would cut through Evanston without stopping.
The Village of Skokie, which , slated to open April 30, could provide a model for how Evanston could finance planning and construction. According to the feasibility study, while the station cost more than $20 million to build, Skokie paid only $6 million, while federal funds covered $14 million.
Moving forward, one of the questions the City of Evanston will attempt to answer is whether the social and economic benefits to revitalizing the Howard Street area and improving south Evanston’s access to public transportation outweigh the costs associated with building the station.
Though the Asbury Avenue train stop would cost around $913,000 to operate and maintain annually, it would also have an estimated annual ridership of 263,000.
Potential federal funding sources listed in the study include:
- Flexible Highway Funds
- Urbanized Area Formula Program
- New Starts and Small Starts
- Bus and Bus Facilities capital assistance
- FHWA's Transportation and Community and System Preservation Program
- Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act federal credit assistance
Potential local funding sources listed in the study include:
- Naming rights
- Private sector contributions
- Tax-exempt borrowing of municipal bonds
- Tax Increment Finance (TIF) districts
- Transit Oriented Development areas
The City of Evanston hosted three over the past 10 months to gauge public opinion on the proposed stations.