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Metra breaks ground on new station in Ravenswood

Then Acting MetrChairman Larry Huggins with Ald. AmeyPawar (left). File phol John H. White~Sun-Times

Then Acting Metra Chairman Larry Huggins with Ald. Ameya Pawar, (left). File photo l John H. White~Sun-Times

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Updated: October 7, 2012 7:56AM

Ravenswood Metra commuters will soon get covered platforms and warming shelters to survive Chicago’s bitter winters.

The transit agency on Wednesday broke ground on the construction of a new Ravenswood Station on the Union Pacific North Line to replace the existing one just south of Lawrence. The station serves more than 2,000 riders a day, making it the busiest outlying station on the UP North Line.

“The current station is simply inadequate to the number of riders that are now using it,” Metra Acting Chairman Larry Higgins said. “But that will change once this project is completed.”

The plan is to have the west platform done by the end of 2013 and the rest to be completed by the end of 2015, Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said. For now, riders will have to board on the north side of Lawrence.

The new $18.3 million station will have longer, covered platforms and warming shelters on both sides, better lighting and space for a ticket office and a vendor. It’ll also include new ramps, stairs and landscaping, the transit agency said. The station will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) called the project “a key ingredient in revitalizing Lawrence Avenue.” A vacant parking lot adjacent to the station will soon become home to Mariano’s Fresh Market, L.A. Fitness and 150 units of housing, the alderman said.

“We’re going to make this whole corridor more pedestrian friendly, bike friendly,” Pawar said. “The idea here is to use investments like this project for Metra, use the investment for [construction of] Mariano’s and L.A. Fitness to draw in more business.”

Shelters are a welcome addition for frequent Ravenswood Metra riders, who have endured Chicago’s extreme temperatures for years.

Winters are “wretched,” said Carol Sinko. She’s used the station for nine years.

“There’s no place to sit. … There are maybe two benches and each bench seats three people.”

Metra officials say there will be more seats at the station but could not immediately say how many.

The new station is part of a $215 million project to replace UP North bridges over 22 streets on the North Side. The project began last year.

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