Commuting made easy

By Chris Loeber

A proposed addition to the Chicago Transit Authority system would provide rail transportation to the area surrounding McCormick Place and the Near South

Side community.

On Jan. 17, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans for construction of a new CTA rail station on the Green Line at East Cermak Road. The new station will fill a two-mile gap between the Roosevelt and 35th/Bronzeville stations, serving residents who currently lack immediate access to local rail transit and potentially aiding commerce in the area.

“This [train station] is intended to serve the entirety of the community, such as businesses along Michigan Avenue, along Wabash and Indiana to the east [and] State Street to the west,” said CTA spokesman Brian Steele. “Basically, anyone within about a mile radius of that area will have a new, convenient and attractive transportation option for the residents and customers.”

The station will sit between East Cermak Road and East 23rd Street. Entrances will be located on the north and south side of Cermak Road and the north side of 23rd Street, Steele said. The station will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and will accommodate eight-car trains with a canopy cover for the platform.

The South Loop community has seen significant residential and commercial development during the last 20 years, and access to a train station could potentially attract additional residents and commercial traffic, according to Steele.

The historic “Motor Row” District, which includes a three-block stretch of South Michigan Avenue between East CermakRoad and the Stevenson Expressway, may benefit from an increase in commercial traffic that would result from the planned construction, as reported by The Chronicle on Sept. 9, 2011.

“In this area, the Cermak Green Line station is envisioned to help provide transportation to McCormick Place,” Steele said. “But also to the development that has already occurred on the south end of the South Loop neighborhood, as well as future development on the South Michigan Avenue Motor Row entertainment district.”

Robert Glick, owner of Reggie’s Music Joint, 2109 S. State St., a bar, restaurant and self-proclaimed “music headquarters” of the South Loop, said the new station may attract additional customers to businesses in the neighborhood.

Design work for the station will start in March. Construction will begin in February 2013 and is scheduled to be completed by mid-2014, said Peter Scales, spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation.

The station is estimated to cost $50 million, and the CDOT is set to oversee the entire process. The project is funded through the Michigan/Cermak and the 24th/Michigan Tax Increment Financing Districts, Scales said. Additional financing may come from the city’s congestion parking fee, a $2 premium on parking garage prices in the city.

McCormick Place, 2301 S. Lakeshore Dr., which, according to the website, attracts three million visitors each year, is the largest convention center in North America. Scales said providing convenient public transportation for patrons of the convention center has been a desire for years.

“There is not really a decent public transportation option for people coming from downtown or other parts of the city to McCormick Place,” Scales said. “This will provide about a two-block walk to the western entrance of McCormick Place.”

The future station is one of many large construction projects at train stations across the city overseen by the CTA and CDOT, as reported by The Chronicle on Oct. 10, 2011.

“There’s more than $1 billion planned for the Red and Purple lines in the coming years to improve stations, rebuild tracks and improve signals,” Steele said. “There is always an ongoing capital investment in the CTA infrastructure.”