Construction is expected to start in the next few months on Chicago’s newest L station: Washington and Wabash.
The start of work was delayed a year while work was completed on an environmental impact statement. That statement was presented to the public at the end of February, and can also be seen here. The public comment period on the project closed at the end of last week.
The Chicago Transit Authority explains that, “the Randolph/Wabash and Madison/Wabash stations have been targets for demolition and consolidation for several decades […] as early as November 1981.”
Combining these stations into what the C.T.A. calls a “super station” will make Washington/Wabash the 5th busiest station in Chicago.
To accommodate a larger influx of passengers, the CTA suggests that “the new station will have larger platforms, increasing from 7 1/2 feet wide in some places currently to up to 16 feet.”
The exterior of Washington/Wabash will have long white bars that extend over the tracks, with clear glass connecting them. This new addition aims to protect passengers from the harsh elements of the weather while waiting for their train to reach the station.
From a bird’s eye view, the top of Washington and Wabash will look as if it is a wave—a modern and sleek design that’s not seen at other stations. The contemporary look is similar to the construction style of the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.
Calatrava, known for his bridge work, established his architectural style through skeletal appearances and their impression of continuous motion, and the Washington/Wabash stop will aim at just that.
The CTA plans on having stairs and escalators at both the west and east side of the development. In the middle of Washington/Madison will be stairways for passengers that are exiting the station in hopes of decreasing any congestion that might arise.
The project is projected to be around $75 million in construction costs, with much of the money coming from federal grants to cut air pollution. The agency hopes to have the station open in 2016.