By Kathy Routliffe
Date of Publication: January 24, 2002
Source: Skokie Review
Skokie plans to hire next month a consultant to study feasibility of extending the Skokie Swift transit line to Old Orchard Center and adding an Oakton Street station, Mayor George Van Dusen said Monday.
The Village Board may hire a consultant Feb. 4 to do the $150,000 study, the mayor said.
"This will give us not only the engineering feasibility, it should also give us an idea of the financing necessary," to make the expansions he said.
Skokie Swift expansion is one of several transit projects that could win federal funding in the next several years. Both the CTA and the Metra suburban transit authority are evaluating it, along with plans that would expand more lines to O'Hare Airport, to Schaumburg, to Ford City and farther south in Chicago.
Van Dusen and CTA spokeswoman Anne McCarthy said they expect the Swift study to be complete within the next year.
Van Dusen said he expects to get help in lobbying for Swift expansion from U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois).
"I met with him last year on this, and I also met with him a couple of weeks ago. I talked to him again about this and he assured me he would do what he could to help us."
The study, announced last year as part of a larger Regional Transportation Authority plan, has solidified after talks between the RTA and the Chicago Transit Authority, Van Dusen said.
Village staff interviewed three consultant candidates this week and should recommend their pick at the Feb. 4 meeting, he said.
Lines to go
Plans by the CTA to rid the Swift of its overhead power lines should ultimately make it easier to extend the line.
Earlier this month, CTA President Frank Kruesi said the CTA would rehab the line for about $6 million, installing the electric third rail used elsewhere in the system.
Overhead lines, used along about half of the Swift line, freeze in winter, officials say.
The changeover will allow the CTA to use standard train cars along the line.
The Swift line, which runs about five miles from Chicago's Howard Street station through Evanston to its Dempster Street terminal, is the last of the CTA's using overhead wires.
Work on the changeover is expected to begin in late summer when conduits are placed at grade crossings, McCarthy said. The third rail would be installed in early 2003. After that the existing lines would be taken down, she said.
Gates at rail crossings also will be upgraded.