By Marc Prince, News Editor
Chicago Transit officials discuss plans for Wilson Red Line reconstruction with Uptown area business owners and residents.
Truman College opened its doors this past Tuesday, as host to CTA and local community businesses in a meeting to discuss major renovations coming to the Uptown area. The Wilson Ave. Red Line station will be the beneficiary a full reconstruction project slated to begin pre-construction within the first two weeks of October.
Alderman James Cappleman and CTA representative Jeff Wilson gave in-depth details of the 3 ½ [check this for proper AP style – I think it should be three-and-a-half] year beautification project. The campus cafeteria was filled to capacity with local business owners, concerned community members and Truman students/staff, all intently following the five-stage plan of action.
According to Wilson, the $203 million project is promised to include an external facelift to complement a modern turnover of the interior and platforms of the long-worn Wilson Ave. train station. High-pane glass exteriors, surrounding the entire main street side of the building, modern-chic metallic accents at each corner and button and a customer service station are just a few of the new amenities to be expected.
The long out-of-business and abandoned buildings that surround the station are all scheduled to be demolished or reconstructed, beginning with a restoration of the Gerber building’s terra cotta exterior this coming October. The original face of the building will maintain some aspect of the area’s original atmosphere, as the classic facade of the Men’s Majestic Wear building will be preserved and worked into the new additions.
Looking beyond the aesthetics of the space, the reconstruction will feature updates that will provide more convenience while traveling throughout the city the station will become a major transfer point between the red and purple lines, a first since the express was discontinued in 1976. The station will also be be fully handicap accessible. The need for this was made apparent during the town hall meeting when an unknown special needs attendee publicly thanked CTA after viewing the renderings for the new handicapped accessibility modules.
Drivers will be given a safer and more efficient route when the removal of the old tracks columns across Wilson Ave., allowing the street to open up and giving drivers wider lanes with better sight lines. Additions like LED lighting throughout the station and enhanced security cameras (or at the least, a more enhanced security presence) aim to provide a safer atmosphere in hopes of creating a safer environment. For riders, a DIVVY Bike station is expected to be installed on the south side of the structure.
The floor was opened for questions and concern from those in attendance, mostly Uptown community business owners. The presentation of the proposal did, however leave very few with question or opposition; going over the anticipated complications with construction as well as equipment/materials traffic. The station will remain open throughout the 41-month project. All closed or obstructed pedestrian walkways will be given alternative routes for both north and south entrances to the platform. Noise will be a problem during weekday business hours and weekends, but CTA will notify the public of scheduled construction.
To see artist renderings and the entire prospectus presented during the meeting, please go to http://www.transitchicago.com/wilson. For further general questions or comments on the reconstruction, contact Jeffrey Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the CTA website.