Renovation stations

By Vanessa Morton

El riders will see two more changes in their daily travels as the Chicago Transit Authority and Chicago Department of Transportation go forward with a number of large construction projects.

Both agencies have worked together for 15 years in an effort to modernize subway stations throughout the Loop.

Brian Steele, CDOT spokesman, said the CTA has been working with CDOT on a multi-year program that has been renovating numerous stations since the late 1990s.

“We’ve done multiple stations along the Red and Blue lines, and we’ve done some elevated stations in the Loop,” Steele said. “So we’ve been working at this for a while, and essentially the next two stations were just next on the list.”

Recent projects have included the $68 million restoration of the Grand and State Red Line station, which is set for completion by the end of this year, and the addition of the Morgan Street and Lake Street stations servicing the Pink and Green lines. The $38 million project should be completed by mid-2012, Steele said.

Although both agencies work together, Steele said CDOT will manage the modernization of the CTA stations because it has always provided the oversight of each construction project located in the Loop.

“We are responsible for approximately 50 transit stations throughout the city, although most of them are downtown” Steele said. “[CDOT] is the agency responsible for the city’s public way, and that’s why we handle the oversight.”

The first project will be to reconstruct the entire Clark and Division station on the Red Line, an estimated to cost a little more than $100 million. The second will be a consolidation of two closely spaced stations along North Wabash Avenue at Randolph and Madison streets and is expected to cost $80.5 million.

A majority of the costs for both projects are expected to be paid through federal grants from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, while the rest will come from state and local matches.

CMAP is the federally designated metropolitan planning organization that oversees which proposed projects can receive money. In order to receive funds, CDOT had to submit proposals for the two station projects.

According to Steele, the proposals had to go through an application process under the Congestion, Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program—a federal resource geared toward projects that improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion.

CMAQ’s program manager, Doug Ferguson, said in order to receive any funding, the agency applying must meet certain federal criteria.

“We look at applications that cover bicycle and pedestrian facility projects, traffic flow improvement projects and transit projects such as this one,” Ferguson said. “It’s a competitive process. We have four focus groups that review and recommend projects they feel apply to what we do, and then we do a ranking on them based

around costs.”

CMAP’s spokesman, Tom Garritano, said the total amount of money the program has for the current funding cycle is $411 million, which will be dispersed to different programs that get approved by the CMAP board on Oct. 12.

“So it’s a five-year program that is up for review right now,” Garritano said. “We currently have 115 projects awaiting grant approval, and they’ll know if they’ve been chosen for funding at the beginning of November.”

CMAP has previously awarded CDOT with grant money during the engineering phases of the station projects.

According to Steele, CDOT plans to seek bids on the Clark and Division station project sometime during the end of this year, and will hopefully start construction in mid-2012. The job is set for completion by 2016.

The station will receive a new entrance and vertical mezzanine extension on LaSalle Street, which is one block west of the existing entrance; complete renovations of the Clark mezzanine; more turnstiles that will double the amount of people allowed to enter and exit the station; new escalators and stairways; and a complete modernization of the train platform.

The new mezzanine extension will add 8,789 square feet and will eliminate capacity limitations, which will allow for future growth. The modernization of the train platform will allow 10-car trains to be added.

Meanwhile, the second project will consolidate the Randolph and Wabash station with the Madison and Wabash station. The project is set to begin construction in 2014 or 2015. Both will combine into a new station at Washington and Wabash, which will serve the Green, Brown, Orange, Pink and Purple lines.

“By the improvements scheduled for the stations, they will be able to serve a greater number of riders and will be able to do it in a more efficient manner,” Ferguson said. “This all leads to better air quality through the improvement of the service, and by doing that, you can get people out of their automobiles and into transit.”