Cermak Green Line station makes sense
03/28/2012 10:00 PM
We’re satisfied with the CTA Cermak Station’s location. Though we know it’s not as popular with the neighbors, it just makes more sense logistically than a station at 18th Street.
Here’s why we’re on board: Building a station at 18th Street would just be too complicated. Look at a map of the South Loop (or just look up) and you’ll clearly see that the Orange Line splits off from the Green Line right at 18th Street (technically, 17th Street, but the junction extends over 18th.
Putting a new switch in there would create a logistical nightmare for the CTA, and would require them to station someone at that switch full time. Do you know how much someone in the CTA rail workers’ union makes? It’s a lot.
On top of that, the land at the station is just too narrow to build a station there right now. There is a vacant lot at Wabash and 18th, but the CTA doesn’t own it. Buying land in the South Loop still isn’t cheap, and property owners typically look to cash in when government comes a-knocking. That would vastly inflate the cost of building a station — which is already at $50 million.
Now, about that price tag: it might be bit inflated. We’re not excited about that. It is about in the realm of what recent stations have cost, but the city’s officials implied that it’s a little higher than usual because they’re trying to get the project done before 2014, when the Near South tax increment financing district expires.
We know the city is loathe to have its TIF carriage turn back into a pumpkin, but rushing through a project just to get it done is still costing the taxpayers extra cash. The TIF is not free money, and it shouldn’t be spent just to be spent. It may not be committed to anything, but it could still go back to parks, schools and other worthy government bodies.
So we’re in favor of the Cermak station. Logistically, it just makes the most sense. But if it saves us some cash, slow down, city officials. Let’s not spend extra just to get this thing done faster. The South Loop can wait.