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Condo Residents May Try To Stop UP North Project

CHICAGO (CBS/WBBM) -- Residents of a North Side condominium complex may try to derail the latest plan to rebuild a portion of Metra's Union Pacific North line.

Metra knew the Ravenswood Park Condominiums posed a special problem. Officials even scheduled a special session to spell out what the UP North Line work will mean for the condo complex, at Winnemac and Ravenswood.

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But condo owner Shira Hammann told WBBM Newsradio 780's Bob Roberts that the notice mentioned a "noise and vibration impact study" and that few residents realized it meant that a 20-foot retaining wall would go up next to the complex.

"We were brought in a year ago, when the plans were completely different and they didn't involving moving the tracks 20 feet closer to out homes," she said. "Even then it was only, 'It's 30 days before we're going to begin doing something.' I don't know what the legal requirement is, but if that's the legal requirement, the legal requirement is wrong."

Hammann said the condo association has recruited State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) to help it and is prepared to hire lawyers and design engineers, but said letters to Metra have gone unanswered.

Metra's latest plan calls for an embankment capable of holding four tracks through the area. Currently there are two tracks, and the original plans called for one track at a time to be closed and rebuilt, foregoing any change to the existing four-foot retaining walls.

Metra opted over the winter to change the original plan because of voluminous complaints from riders and chronic problems attempting to maintain train schedules with only one track in operation.

The addition of the retaining wall, and the decision to shift the tracks to the western half of the right-of-way, is costing Metra an additional $40 million, but will allow Metra to maintain two operational tracks throughout the eight-year reconstruction project. Twenty-two bridges, each more than 100 years old, are to be replaced, along with the Ravenswood station, the busiest on the line outside of its West Loop terminal.

Metra officials said during a presentation to the agency's board in April that it believed the condominiums were built closer to the tracks than should have been allowed by law.

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