Ground Breaking Ceremony Held for Rebuilding of the Amtrak, Metra Homewood Station

A conductor picks up a step box after passengers have finished disembarking from the northbound Illini at Homewood, Illinois in September 1996

A groundbreaking ceremony was held this week to mark the launch of a $29 million project to renovate the Homewood, Illinois, Amtrak and Metra station.

The work, which began in July, will improve the accessibility of the facility located alongside Canadian National tracks and served by Amtrak’s City of New Orleans, Illini and Saluki.

Workers will replace the station stairway and install a ramp to allow passengers access to a tunnel under the tracks, which leads to the boarding platforms.

Other work planned for next year includes leveling the path between the station building, parking area and entrance to the tunnel.

Metra plans to replace its existing station structure on the east side of the tracks, renovate the existing tunnel and create accessible paths from both ends of the tunnel.

The tunnel, which is 109 years old, will be waterproofed, receive improved lighting, drainage and ventilation systems, and be coated in a graffiti resistant finish.

Amtrak is spending $15 million on the $29 million project, Metra is chipping in $14 million, the village of Homewood will contribute $585,000 and Cook County will provide $300,000.

The Homewood station was built by the Illinois Central Railroad in 1923.

Amtrak plans to build a ramp building to house the elevator and walkways. The work also includes renovating the waiting area and restrooms of the existing station.

“We’ll put down new tile and move some walls to make the restrooms accessible, but you should be able to distinguish what is new and what was original to this space without taking away any of the history or character of the building — it’s really a beautiful station,” Amtrak Project Manager Jamie Shindell said.

For now Amtrak passengers are unable to board or disembark from trains in Homewood due to the construction.

Instead, they are riding buses to and from the next Amtrak station to the south, Kankakee.

Amtrak expects trains to resume boarding and disembarking in Homewood from a temporary platform in late March 2021. The project is expected to be completed by October 2021.

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