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Wilson Red Line Rehab: CTA Again Delays Selecting Contractor for $203M Plan

By Adeshina Emmanuel | January 16, 2014 9:24am
 The nearly 100-year-old Wilson station will be renovated beginning 2013. 
 The nearly 100-year-old Wilson station was supposed to be renovated starting in 2013. It will get a $203 million makeover, according to CTA.
Wilson Red Line Station Rehab
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UPTOWN — The Chicago Transit Authority has again delayed selecting a contractor for the $203 million reconstruction of the Wilson Red Line station in Uptown.

The agency hasn't finalized the design of the new station, selected a contractor or started early work on the 33-month project scheduled for completion in 2016.

Though CTA initially planned to pick a contractor by the end of 2013, "the awarding process will now extend somewhat longer until we are further in the planning process," the CTA said in a statement Wednesday. "We anticipate having more information in the coming weeks."

The agency narrowed its list of prospective contractors down to five firms in November.

Wilson Rehab Plans - Broadway/Leland Animated Walkthrough
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Chicago Transit Authority

The agency didn't get very specific about the source of the delays, but said: "This is a detailed, complex project with numerous factors and considerations related to design and construction that must be thoroughly vetted as part of the planning process."

CTA, after opening bids for the Wilson contract in May 2012, said a contractor would be selected in August, and that a "notice to proceed" on the project could be issued soon after. But CTA pushed those plans back to the end of 2013 after business owners in the 4600 block of North Broadway railed against plans to eliminate support columns in the street and install columns on the sidewalk outside their businesses, on the east side of the street.

After prodding CTA since the early summer, opponents of the columns won a concession in the fall when the agency decided to move one of the columns across the street.

CTA contends that putting columns on the sidewalk rather than in the street is safest for motorists, and the most structurally sound decision on the table, and within budget. The relocation of columns also meshes with city plans for a redesign of Broadway that includes improved bike lanes and a streetscape, officials said.

When it comes to the column issue, CTA said: "There are no new developments at this time. Project plans have not been finalized; adjustments are being considered commensurate with the planning for the project."

The Wilson project is one of the largest "L" station projects in CTA's history, according to the agency. The rehab of the nearly 100-year-old station has been touted by officials as a linchpin of revitalization plans in Uptown.

The renovated Wilson station would be the only Red/Purple line transfer point between the Belmont and Howard stops, and would be the sole wheelchair-accessible station between the Addison stop in Lakeview and the Granville stop in Edgewater.

For previous coverage of the column debate and the Wilson project, click here.