New CTA rail stations planned


Rendering of the new LaSalle Mezzanine at Clark/Division. PDF with additional renderings.

Editor’s note: This post was written by Grid Chicago contributor and Network member Kevin Zolkiewicz

Rahm Emanuel joined top brass from the CTA and CDOT this morning to announce the completion of the Grand station on the Red Line (City of Chicago press release). That project had been ongoing for nearly five years and it’s nice to see it finally completed. But the big news today wasn’t Grand, but rather announcements of upcoming station work.

On the renovation front, Clark/Division will be the next Red Line subway stop to see a massive overhaul. That station opened in 1943 and hasn’t changed much since. The rehab of the station will involve the construction of a completely new mezzanine at LaSalle. Construction on that station will begin in March with completion scheduled by March 2015.

The much-needed Cermak stop on the Green Line will begin construction by February 2013, with completion scheduled for July 2014. That station will fill a large 2 1/2 mile gap between stations on the Green Line and allow for better access to McCormick Place. Design work won’t begin until March, but preliminary plans call for a staggered center island platform (think Loyola on the Red Line).

What I’m looking forward to the most is a new station at Washington/Wabash in the Loop. This station, which would replace the existing Randolph/Wabash and Madison/Wabash stations, was first proposed by CTA back in 2003 [we reported on this in October 2011]. It now appears closer to reality and the early renderings released today look promising. Rather than replicate the bland design of Washington/Wells, plans call for a stunning wavy glass canopy.


Platform-level rendering of Washington/Wabash. PDF with additional renderings.

Who knows if that design will stick. It does, after all, have some practicality concerns with regards to rain and snow. But it’s nice to see CTA and CDOT taking design more seriously for this station. Much of the recent station designs from CTA have been hugely disappointing. For such a high profile station that will serve Millennium Park, we need an impressive design that will showcase our transit system and help attract new ridership. Unpainted galvanized steel isn’t going to do that.

One last thought on Washington/Wabash: Although it’d probably be rather costly, I’d love to see a restoration of the old Madison/Wabash station house. It doesn’t look like much now, but it’s one of the last old Loop station houses and dates back to 1896. The new station’s platform will extend to Madison, so the old station house could conceivably be repurposed as an auxiliary entrance and maybe even house a small visitor’s center. The likelihood of something like that actually happening is probably slim to none at this point given fiscal realities, but you can always dream, right?

21 thoughts on “New CTA rail stations planned”

  1. What about the Wilson red line stop? That has to be one of the most disgusting, run down stops on the entire system. How about we stop making downtown stations extraneously showy (I mean, we aren’t getting the Olympics, so…) and fix the worst off ones to bring them up to standard first.

    1. Good news: Wilson is getting a massive $135 million rehab that’s scheduled to start later this year. That’s a ton of money in comparison to the stations discussed in this article: Clark/Division will run $86.6 million, with Cermak at $50 million, and Washington/Wabash at $75 million.

      1. I’d have to think that $135M is including some serious track work.  Tear out the former express platforms, maybe move track 1 (westernmost, purple southbound) from that spur-ish thing it does.

        Would be really nice if they could also kick popeye’s out and redo the original station entrance.  Though getting a parapet like the old probably isn’t likely, at least get it back to the cool old entrance.

        1. The Wilson renovation will more than likely include some track reconfiguration.

          All of the retail spots at Wilson are currently vacated. A few years ago, plans were drawn up for a complete renovation of Wilson. That original project was eventually shelved due to lack of funding. Those plans called for rebuilding of the parapet and reintegration of the original entrance. Here are some renderings.We don’t know what the final design will look like, but 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman has promised to solicit community input.

        2. Popeye’s has been gone for over a year. The entire building under the Wilson station is vacant I believe. There used to be a little convenience store off of the main lobby and that is closed too.

          1. I think the Popeye’s leaving was part of the plan as the work that needs to happen is easier without any tenant there. When I wrote my article in November 2011, no contractor or architect had yet been hired. 

          2. CTA better make some decisions about the future of the Red Line north of Belmont before they start construction on the Wilson Station. It makes a big difference if the future build is going to have 2, 3, or 4 tracks. Building a $100M+ station without answering the long term questions about the Red Line is a recipe for waste. I’m excited about the Wilson rebuild but also nervous.

    2. tourueamericaine: I wish whiners like you would at least get your facts straight.

      The Pink Line stations are all pretty nice, and none of them are downtown and they all make up some of the least-used stations in the entire system.  Howard just got completely rebuilt, and it’s pretty nicely done.  Not extravagant, but nice.  The 35th/Sox station is actually quite nice from a recent rehab.  The rebuilding of Cermak/Red was nicely done and even added an extra entrance that added a lot of value.  The majority of the Brown Line stations that just go rebuilt are not downtown (some are really nice, now, too).  So plenty of non-downtown stations have been rebuilt within the past 10 years and you’re complaining about one station that you don’t really like?  Come on, at least *try* to be rational.

      The City can’t fix every station at once.  Part of the reason the north Red Line stations are run down is that it’s a 24-hour line, so it’s hard to get repairs made.  They’re also among the most heavily used in the system, on average.  Part of the reason they’ve been waiting to fix more of them is that the City and CTA want to try and renovate the entire line in one massive project, sort of like the Pink Line except harder because the Red is more heavily trafficked.

      All that said, the CTA previously announced that it has secured funding to renovate Wilson and will be doing so in about the same timeline as the Clark/Division renovation.  So not only are you being irrational in your complaints, but you apparently don’t even care enough about the subject you’re whining about to be up-to-date and current with the latest news about it.

  2. Why would they need a staggered center platform?  Is there really going to be that many boardings at a station a whole, what, 2 blocks from the red line?

    1. The staggered center platform proposal is likely the result of a couple factors, neither of which have to do with station boardings. First, there is private property abutting the track structure which would make a side platform design more costly due to property acquisition and demolition costs. Second, CTA is likely concerned about modifications to the steel structure that would be required to construct a center platform wide enough to meet ADA requirements. A staggered design is one way to get around that problem.
      Note that this is not necessarily a final decision. While a staggered platform is specified in the request for proposals, engineers could offer other alternatives.

      1. I claimed earlier that CTA was using a staggered design, based on their RFP, but the drawing in the PDF above shows a traditional center-platform design. 

        ADA regulations call for 6 feet of clearance between platform obstacles and the platform edge.  The stairway in the middle point of the platform has less clearance than this (5’4″) but the elevator at the north end and the ramp at the south end work together to provide handicapped access to all railcars.  There’s just a point halfway down the platform that’s not compliant, but it’s okay because all railcars are still accessible.  It’s a shrewd move on CTA’s part which should save them a ton of money.

          1. I doubt it. There are some ambulance-chaser types out there who go around with tape measures just waiting for a juicy lawsuit, but in reality 5’4″ is plenty of clearance for a handicapped person. For comparison, the minimum width for a ramp is only 4′, which really only provides 3’8″ of clearance because of the required railings.

      2. I really hope that the Cermak green line station does NOT get a staggered center platform similar to Loyola.  I find Loyola a pain in the butt.  Parts of the platform are narrow enough to make it tricky with a bike, wheelchair, stroller, etc., if there’s much of a crowd.  I think it’s marginal in terms of true accessibility.

  3. love to see a restoration of the old Madison/Wabash station house.
    It doesn’t look like much now, but it’s one of the last old Loop
    station houses and dates back to 1896. The new station’s platform will
    extend to Madison, so the old station house could conceivably be
    repurposed as an auxiliary entrance and maybe even house a small
    visitor’s center.

    We’re thinking alike here.  I love the way that Quincy was restored, and it would be great to see Madison/Wabash get a similar treatment.  A visitors center with some history displays is a great idea.  I’d hate to see that old station house destroyed.  It adds so much character to that section of the Loop.

    1. I’m down for a history center, too. New York City Transit / Metropolitan Transportation Authority runs the subway museum in Brooklyn and it’s top notch. I’d like to see a similar history center evolve from something small at Madison/Wabash to something larger and more permanent. 

      The Illinois Railway Museum is a very cool museum, but they have limited funding and 100% of its workers are volunteers. I wish it wasn’t so far away!

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