DOWNTOWN — Amtrak will contribute $12 million for major renovations at Union Station, the city announced Thursday morning.
The contribution is the first step in the Chicago Department of Transportation's ambitious Union Station Master Plan, which calls for roughly $500 million to completely overhaul the 90-year-old station at South Riverside Plaza and has been in development for more than three years. Union Station's last major renovation was in 1989.
“By bringing Union Station into the 21st century, we will bring more economic opportunities to residents all throughout the City of Chicago,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel via a news release Thursday.
Union station is one of the busiest stations in the nation with nearly 120,000 passengers per day. The station often reaches capacity causing overcrowded waiting areas and platforms, the release said.
“A modern transit system is essential to a thriving economy for Chicago. With this investment in the future of Union Station we will provide a more reliable link between downtown and our neighborhoods, connecting residents to work and keeping Chicago on the move,” Emanuel said.
The $12 million invest will go toward alleviating the crowding for a more comfortable passenger experience. The work will include: designing a larger passenger concourse, safety improvements, enhancing temperature controls and repairs to the station's exterior facade, the city said.
Supporting projects are already in place to expand the station's role as a transportation hub, the city said.
Those projects also include the building of the Union Station Transportation Center, "a CTA bus terminal that will anchor the new Central Loop Bus Rapid Transit Corridor that will connect Amtrak, Metra, the CTA Blue Line and many downtown destinations, and serve as a key link between commuter and intercity rail," the city said.
The aim is to create a faster and more reliable transportation for commuters. The city's website touts the bus rapid transit program as one of the best ways to navigate the congested downtown using dedicated bus lanes and while making limited stops similar to the "L."
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is working with the state, Amtrak and Metra to secure additional money for the project, the city said.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: