A host of local politicians, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, were in Uptown today for the groundbreaking ceremony for the CTA’s reconstruction of its Wilson Station (4620 North Broadway). Wilson is a huge project, in part because it used to be a much more important link in the regional transportation system than it is today. At one time this was not just a train station, but also a double-decker rail yard. Later its importance was reflected in its name: Uptown Union Station
The station was first built in 1900; then re-built in 1907 (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright) and again in 1923. It’s that station that you see today with the dilapidated, but marvelous, terra-cotta facade, designed by Arthur U. Gerber
The new station will work similar to the recently rebuilt Belmont Station, with the Red Line trains running on a pair of central tracks, and Purple Line trains using outer tracks, separated by two platforms to allow for easy transfers. It will also have a canopy to protect commuters from the elements.
Full details are in the press release from the mayor’s office, after the pictures, all courtesy of the Chicago Transit Authority:
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CTA President Forrest Claypool broke ground today on the Wilson Station Reconstruction Project, which will modernize the 91-year-old stationhouse and the station’s more than 100-year-old track structure. The revitalized station will serve as an economic anchor for the historic Uptown neighborhood by stimulating local business and promoting job growth.
The $203 million project is one of the largest station projects in CTA history and is the latest in a series of Red Line modernization projects to take place since Mayor Emanuel announced plans to update the city’s busiest rail line in 2011.
“The Red Line is the backbone of our transportation network, and making major investments, like the new Wilson Station, drives economic activity that will benefit the Uptown neighborhood and Chicago for years to come,” Mayor Emanuel said. “In order to build the world-class transit our city needs, we must act now. By doing so, we’re building and investing in our economic future and creating thousands of new, good-paying jobs.”
When the Wilson project is complete in late 2017, riders will have a modern, spacious and more accessible station that will be a new transfer point for Red and Purple Line trains. The project will also relocate and reconstruct 2,200 feet of elevated tracks, signals and supporting infrastructure, eliminating slow zones and improving service reliability for customers, as well as providing a more pleasing street environment on Wilson Avenue and Broadway Street in the heart of Uptown.
The project, expected to generate more than 550 construction jobs, is the latest of several large-scale CTA improvements planned under Mayor Emanuel’s leadership.
“Chicago has the second largest mass transit system in the country and also one of the oldest. That’s why I’ve made it a priority to ensure that the CTA has the resources it needs to maintain and modernize its railways, particularly the heavily traveled Red Line,” U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said. “The new Wilson Station will ensure that commuters in Uptown have a safe and modern station for decades to come. I look forward to working with everyone here to make our mass transit system in Chicago is the most modern, safe and efficient in the country.”
The Wilson project is part of CTA’s Red Ahead program, a $1 billion comprehensive initiative to maintain, modernize and expand the Red Line – Chicago’s most-traveled rail line. State funding supports much of the $1 billion Red Ahead investment.
“A 21st century transportation infrastructure system is crucial to Illinois’ economic comeback and our position as a hub of the Midwest,” Governor Quinn said. “This investment in Chicago’s most travelled rail line is part of our comprehensive approach to improving and expanding our rail infrastructure, driving Illinois’ economy forward and creating thousands of jobs across our state.”
“The Wilson Station Reconstruction Project will improve the El’s speed and efficiency on the north side of Chicago, helping thousands of residents of my district who use the station to get to work, visit family, or otherwise take advantage of the city,” said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. “I am proud of the role played by the Illinois Congressional Delegation in helping to secure federal funding for this project. I will continue to work with my colleagues at the federal, state, and local level to support Chicago public transit.”
“Rebuilding the Wilson station is a critical component to rejuvenating the Red Line,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “A revitalized Wilson station will strengthen the historic Uptown neighborhood with an attractive, modern station that provides improved transit options and connections for CTA customers and generates new retail and related economic development for the vibrant Uptown neighborhood.”
“The Wilson station renovation was the first commitment I made to the people of the 46th Ward,” said Ald. James Cappleman. “This new development will be a catalyst for more economic development and jobs in Uptown, a neighborhood that has a wonderfully diverse population in need of more opportunities.”
The new Wilson Station will feature contemporary architecture, including steel-framed, translucent canopies and a historic restoration of the 1923 stationhouse. There will be three entrance/exits to the station, including the accessible main station entrance on the south side of Wilson Avenue, one auxiliary entry/exit on the north side of Wilson Avenue and an auxiliary entrance on Sunnyside Avenue, which will have ADA-compliant ramps.
The station will feature two island platforms to allow convenient cross-platform transfers between Red Line and Purple Line Express service – making Wilson the only transfer station between the Howard and Belmont stations.
Additional features and amenities of the station to enhance customer convenience and comfort will include numerous security cameras throughout the station and platforms, CTA Train Tracker displays, wider stairwells, new escalators, security cameras, additional bike parking and other improvements.
The track structure relocation and reconstruction will significantly improve the pedestrian environment on Broadway and Wilson by removing many of the unsightly and ‘L’ structure support columns on Wilson Avenue, Broadway Street and surrounding sidewalks, creating a more pleasant, open streetscape. The project is also expected to generate new transit-oriented business development.
Additionally, the new station will feature new public artwork from internationally acclaimed artist Cecil Balmond. The design will be created with input from the community surrounding the Wilson Station and installed once construction is complete. For more information about this project, visit transitchicago.com/Wilson.