ROSELAND — Scores of South Siders gathered at the 95th Street CTA station Monday as Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the CTA broke ground on a complete reconstruction of the station, one of the largest CTA projects in history.
"This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a significant investment in both the South Side and the Red Line and its riders," Emanuel said. "The Red Line is the backbone of our transportation network and this new station will not only provide customers a better transit experience, but will be a strong community anchor.”
The current terminal at 95th Street was built in 1969 and has long been one of the city's busiest, serving 20,000 weekday commuters daily. Last year, more than 4 million people entered the station. In addition to the Red Line trains that start their trip north from the station, more than 1,000 CTA and paces buses visit the terminal daily, according to the CTA.
The new 95th Street terminal will look nothing like the current terminal. Instead, it is being designed for the 21st-century rider, CTA President Forrest Claypool said.
"Anyone who has seen this station during the morning or afternoon rush hours knows how incredibly crowded it can be. Pedestrians often have to walk between and in front of buses to board their route, and crowds going through the gates are often so crowded that it is difficult to move in any form of fast pace," Claypool said.
Pedestrian safety was one of the focuses of the new design, with new wider sidewalks and larger waiting areas part of the project, officials said.
"The new station will be bright, airy, light-filled with buildings connected to a pedestrian skywalk that eliminates the need to cross 95th street at street level. This new station will not only look better but function much better," he said.
The design of the new station features contemporary architecture, including glass-and-steel canopies, glass-enclosed structures and more shelter for riders. North and south buildings will be constructed then connected by an enclosed walkway crossing above 95th Street to increase safety. It will also feature an expanded concession area and wider bus lanes to ease traffic congestion, according to a statement from the mayor.
"The new terminal will provide a much more welcoming environment for passengers while improving the flow of buses and making it easier and safer for pedestrians," said Terry Peterson, chairman of the CTA.
"But this will be more than just a transit terminal. As you can see from the renderings this building will truly become a new South Side landmark that will serve as an important anchor for the community for decades to come," Peterson said.
The $240 million reconstruction project will create more than 700 construction jobs and comes nearly a year after the city opened the completely overhauled Red Line South "L" line. Funding is provided through a variety of federal, state and local sources, according to the statement.
Gov. Pat Quinn said the station will not only provide an economic boost by creating jobs for the community but also by drawing in more small local businesses to the area. The station also would benefit students headed to Chicago State University, he said.
Chicago State is "a major university in our state of Illinois and we want to make sure our students can get off the train here, get over to Chicago State in a safe and sound way," Quinn said. "This is going to provide a lot of economic growth around a major terminal."
The project will also feature artwork from Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates, who talked with community leaders about what kind of art to feature at the station.
The 95th Street station will remain open during construction, which is expected to continue into 2017.
Since taking office, Emanuel has begun, completed or announced nearly $9 billion in projects to modernize the CTA.
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