Village OKs Swift Expansion Study


By Kathy Routliffe

Date of Publication: February 21, 2002
Source: Skokie Review


Skokie moved ahead Tuesday on its quest to extend the Skokie Swift line, hiring a consultant to study the idea.

The feasibility study's results could be used by village officials to help convince state and federal authorities to invest in more Swift track and stations.

Trustees unanimously agreed to award Chicago-based consultant Parsons Brinkerhoff/DLK up to $160,000 to complete a study of the Chicago Transit Authority line. It's expected to take a year to complete.

Extending the Swift line north to Old Orchard Road could make Skokie money-maker Old Orchard Center accessible to more shoppers and mall employees, village officials believe. Mayor George Van Dusen and staff members say Skokie's downtown would benefit by opening a station on Oakton Street.

Parsons will study feasibility of those ideas as well as a proposed third station in the village's southeast industrial district, Traffic Engineer Fred Schattner told board members.

None of the study's cost will come from village general funds. Instead, $120,000 of it is a Regional Transportation Authority grant and $60,000 comes from motor fuel tax revenue.

The report is expected to be fairly detailed, Schattner said.

"We want a study that's useful, not one that's going to sit on a shelf. We clarified that with the RTA," he said.

Parsons will review the status of property ownership and easements along the existing and proposed Swift route. The company will investigate track and platform needs, and whether ridership would justify building stops at either Oakton or in southeast Skokie. And Parsons will look at engineering costs for the proposal.

Trustee Randall Roberts asked why the study will take a year to complete. Schattner said each stage of the study must be reviewed and approved not only by Skokie, which is administering the work, but by the RTA and CTA.

Van Dusen has said he expects to get help in lobbying for Swift expansion from U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois).

Parsons Brinkerhoff/DLK was among three firms to bid on the study.

Prior to Tuesday's vote, the chance to slip in a pun was irresistible for Van Dusen.

"Are you saying they have an excellent track record?" he asked Schattner of Parsons.

Schattner, apparently not about to be flummoxed by word play, replied "Yes. Yes, they are."