Geneva commuter parking deck

Geneva City Council recently approved a construction contract to build a third level on the city's commuter parking deck. (Stephanie K. Baer, Tribune photo / July 11, 2014)

After a long wait, Geneva commuters will finally have a third level on the parking deck adjacent to the Metra train station.

The City Council on Monday approved a $4.48 million contract with Walsh Construction, of Chicago, to build the third tier, which will add 180 parking spaces to the existing 360 spaces.

"We have waited a long, long, long time for this," said Mayor Kevin Burns.

The original plan was to build three tiers on the parking deck when it was built in 2007, but the city downsized to two because of cost. They planned to add the third level when the funds became available.

The city then pursued grant funding from Metra, the Regional Transportation Authority, and the Illinois Department of Transportation. Funds finally became available, but the city had to reject all the bids in 2013 when they came in higher than Metra had approved. Metra also said the lowest bidder hadn't done enough to seek out minority and female subcontractors and workers.

Now that the deal has been finalized, the work still has to wait until a plan is finalized for shuttling commuters back and forth to the train station while the garage is closed during construction. The city will use parking at the First Baptist Church campus at 2300 South Street and a Pace bus will shuttle commuters to the Metra station.

"Contractors can't begin until we have a place to put the customers," said city administrator Mary McKittrick. " … It all hinges on that."

Ald. Ron Singer noted that he hopes it will be a mild winter, since construction should take 6-9 months.

City staff has said that the third level is especially important, considering that there are plans for Metra to eventually build a third rail track. Adding a third rail will eat up about 130 parking spots on the station's south side.

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