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Wilson Red Line Station Rehab Moves Forward as CTA, Residents Compromise

By Adeshina Emmanuel | February 19, 2014 10:16am
 Renovation of the nearly 100-year-old Wilson Red Line station will begin this fall. 
Wilson Red Line Station Rehab
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UPTOWN — The CTA has resolved a dust-up with members of the Uptown community whose complaints about the redesign of the Wilson Red Line station have delayed the project since last year.

Construction now is slated for the fall and will end in 2017 rather than 2016, according to the CTA. Agency spokeswoman Catherine Hoskinki said CTA has reopened bidding for the project with updated design documents and will select a contractor this summer.

Since a heated community meeting last June, plans to give one of Chicago's crustiest train stations a $203 million makeover have faced setbacks caused by debate over the placement of two support columns along the sidewalk on the west side of Broadway, at West Leland and West Clifton avenues.

Business and building owners near the columns complained the structures would be eyesores and bring more noise and vibrations into their spaces, but the CTA ultimately worked out a compromise. The agency altered the original design to move the Leland Avenue column across the street and worked with businesses near the Clifton Avenue column to make it less disruptive.

Gary Nakai, a representative from the Buddhist Temple of Chicago, 1151 W. Leland Ave., initially criticized the column placement, but now said he is satisfied with the final plans.

During a public hearing at Uplift Community High School Tuesday, Nakai thanked the CTA for "listening to the issues to make the infrastructure of this Wilson station project ... as good as it looks."

CTA has maintained that putting more columns on the sidewalk rather than in the street, where many stand now between West Wilson Avenue and Leland Avenue, makes the street safer by removing fixed objects.

"It makes for difficult traffic patterns, it makes it difficult for bike riders, and it also makes it difficult for pedestrians in the street," CTA Chief Planning Officer Carole Morey said of the columns in the street.

A support column will be placed near Uptown Recording, a studio at 4656 N. Clifton Ave. owned by Uptown resident Matt Denny. Denny had argued that it would put his recording studio out of business by bringing more noise and vibrations.

An environmental assessment conducted by CTA for the project predicted that while there wouldn't be a significant increase in noise at Denny's studio, there would be a significant increase in vibrations — an increase beyond what the Federal Transit Administration allows.

The CTA said Tuesday it will use materials and various vibration-dampening techniques to resolve that issue. Denny's legal team was at the Uplift meeting, and didn't raise any objections when given the chance to comment on the project.

Morey said that she expects a final "environmental decision document," to be issued by the transit administration this spring. That has to happen before federal funds can be used for the project.

About $170 million in state funds will go toward the Wilson project. Money from the transit administration and city Tax Increment Financing funds will account for about $33 million in additional funds.

The CTA said the Wilson rehab will increase rider capacity and improve safety around the station with better lighting and security cameras, while making it more accessible to people with disabilities. It will also be the only Purple Line transfer point between the Belmont and Howard Red Line stations.

Ald. James Cappleman (46th) has said he's glad the public spoke up about their concerns, because the Wilson project is such a big, expensive and crucial endeavor.

"This is our chance to make sure it's done right," he said at the meeting Tuesday.