EDGEWATER — Business and community leaders applauded plans to rebuild four CTA stations on the North Side Tuesday night at a community meeting, but also were preparing for construction "hell" when the extensive work beings.
"This is like a dream come true," said Maria Sigman, owner of Salon Echo, located steps from the century-old Bryn Mawr station, which would be entirely shut down if the CTA obtains the necessary federal funding for the project. "To not have it [Bryn Mawr] smell like a urine hole would be awesome."
Although she praised plans for a new station, she didn't dismiss concerns about what years of construction could mean for local business.
"It's going to be hell," she said.
But Sigman said she was hopeful she could keep business alive.
"If I stay really excited about this project, and work it into my promotions, I think it could be very exciting," she said. "I'm not worried."
Carole Morey, CTA's chief planning officer, said a two-year planning process needs to be completed by November 2015 in order for the project to be eligible for federal funding. If all goes as planned, the CTA expects to begin construction of the $1.13 billion project in 2017.
Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) said the project would be "historic for our community."
He cautioned those concerned about the project's scope that there would be a "long lead-up time" to actual construction.
Sheli Lulkin, president of the Association of Sheridan Condo/Co-op Owners, also praised the plans.
"The Red Line is the spine of the business district for this community," she said. "This has been a long time coming."
The rebuilt stations would also include elevators, something that is sorely lacking now, said Yvonne Kincaid, who works with senior citizens in the area.
"They want to get out," she said. "I see the sadness in their face because they really want to get out" but can't board the Red Line in Edgewater if they are disabled.
Officials also said the tracks would be 4 to 5 feet higher off the ground, with an open area below, possibly making room for parking spaces, a dog park or anything else the community wanted.
The CTA also plans to buy and then tear down the Toyota dealership and Public Storage building at North Broadway and Hollywood Avenue for a construction staging area. The property would later be marketed toward transit-oriented developments.
There also are plans to use portions of the Jewel parking lot at Berwyn Avenue and the tracks for construction equipment and materials, officials said.
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