LINCOLN PARK — Retaining walls along Metra's Union Pacific North line are collapsing, and a local alderman said the rail service has known about it for a while without addressing the problem.
Metra's railbed retaining walls have three major cavities just behind the Lightology building at 1718 W. Fullerton Ave., in a private area, but nonetheless sealed off with yellow caution tape. Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) said it's not the only problem area along the line.
The Metra railbed retaining wall behind Lightology on Fullerton has three separate cavities, sealed off with yellow caution tape. (DNAinfo/Ted Cox)
"We've communicated many locations to Metra," he said Tuesday. "Taco Bell, Mariano's had issues too with defective walls." Waguespack added that the main trouble spots were between Armitage and Webster avenues, then north to Wrightwood Avenue.
"This whole track length retaining wall and others nearby have been bad," Waguespack said, "and Metra knows."
The wall cavities have posed no danger to Metra trains or resulted in any service disruption, but could pose a problem if left unattended over time.
A collapsed section of retaining wall threatens to eat away at the Metra railbed behind Lightology at Fullerton. (DNAinfo/Ted Cox)
Metra's UP-N line serves the northern suburbs from Evanston to Kenosha, Wis., with stops in the city at Clybourn Avenue, Ravenswood and Rogers Park.
Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said the tracks belong to Union Pacific and referred questions to the railroad company. Union Pacific spokeswoman Kristen South said the company was working on it, but had only been informed of the problem Tuesday by Waguespack's office.
"We were informed about it at lunchtime," she said. "We immediately sent an inspector and crew out. They're working on cleanup right now," as of late Tuesday afternoon.
Waguespack, however, scoffed at the notion that Union Pacific had only just learned of it, saying that both Metra and Union Pacific have "known for years."
In any case, South said Union Pacific engineers would be looking to address the problem over the long term as well.
"Nobody was hurt, and we're making sure that our team is working safely," she said. "We'll get things picked up and make sure that there are no future potential issues."