New CTA Green Line station slated for Cermak in South Loop
Green Line station built to support McCormick Place, Motor Row; city hopes it opens by 2014
10/14/2011 6:49 PM
Updated 10/19/2011 6:00 p.m.
After years of lobbying from South Loop residents who say they need another CTA stop, the Green Line is slated to get a new station on Cermak Road near McCormick Place.
The Chicago Department of Transportation said it’ll build the station for the CTA, in part with money from a new tax on downtown parking lots proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“It’s a station that’s intended to serve a growing residential and business area, as well as McCormick Place,” transportation department spokesman Brian Steele said Friday. “There’s been a big jump in residential population in the area, and this would sit just two blocks from McCormick Place’s western entrance.”
The station would be a long platform that stretches from Cermak to 23rd Street, Steele said. It would tentatively have entrances on the north and south sides of Cermak, as well as one just north of 23rd.
The station is estimated to cost about $50 million, Steele said, and would be funded by tax increment financing cash as well as the mayor’s new tax on downtown parkers.
Right now, the Green Line travels 23 blocks without a stop, from Roosevelt Road in the South Loop to 35th Street in Bronzeville. As population has built up in the South Loop, residents have increasingly clamored for more transportation options.
But Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) says he’d rather see a new station built at 18th Street on the Green Line first, rather than at Cermak. That station would be closer to the center of population in the South Loop.
While he’s spent a lot of time and energy lately trying to get more development down near Cermak — in particular, turning South Michigan Avenue into an entertainment district between Cermak and I-55 — it’s going to be a while until that area gets more settled, he said. There’s also already a station at Cermak on the Red Line, just two blocks away.
“I still want the 18th Street station, where the citizens are,” Fioretti said. “I think the first place to go is to serve the people in the neighborhood.”
However, he said that the CTA had recently told him there were issues with putting a station at 18th Street, namely, that there wasn’t enough track for the train to accelerate and stop on either side of a potential platform.
Gail Rutkowski, new president of the Greater South Loop Association, said that while she knows neighbors wanted a station further north, it would still be great to have a new station anywhere in the South Loop.
“I know 18th was the one neighbors got behind, and I think it would have been the better first choice,” she said. “But I can’t imagine a downside. I think it’d be good for the community to get more access.”
It could also help spur more development around McCormick Place, a huge plus as conventions consider leaving the city.
“There’s such a desperate need for hotels there,” Rutkowski said. “If you’re going to be building them down there, I think the Green Line would certainly help.”
Officials with the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which oversees McCormick Place and Navy Pier, have been cagey in the past about building up the area around Motor Row, and some in the neighborhood have accused them of trying to stymie growth outside of the convention center’s official walls.
But Jim Reilly, trustee of the authority, came out firmly in favor of the new station — as well as an express bus that would serve Navy Pier — in a statement emailed to Chicago Journal this week.
“These are crucial advances that will bring tremendous business and revenue to both Navy Pier and McCormick Place, and Mayor Emanuel’s commitment to using congestion funding to pay for this growth is an outstanding decision that will have great positive effects on the surrounding community and the entire city,” Reilly said in the statement. “By supporting this industry now the city is looking at more business and more revenue tomorrow.”
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