MEDICAL DISTRICT — The Damen Avenue entrance to the Illinois Medical District Blue Line station is temporarily closed as the Chicago Transit Authority begins a $23 million overhaul of the station, officials announced Monday.
The entrance, which will be temporarily closed until mid-May, will allow crews to make exterior and interior improvements to the station and its concourse, CTA officials announced.
Upgrades will include a station-to-platform ramp for improved accessibility, improved station and platform lighting, installation of new security cameras and new CTA bus and train tracker displays. Both auxiliary entrances will also receive new flooring, wall and ceiling finishes, fare-payment equipment and kiosks.
The closure of the Damen entrance marks the first major phase of work on the $23 million project, which will eventually make improvements to all three entrances of the IMD station, including a complete reconstruction of the main station house on Ogden Avenue to make it accessible to customers with disabilities with the addition of an elevator.
During the temporary Damen entrance closure, customers can continue to access the Blue Line via the IMD station's main entrance on Ogden Avenue or an additional entrance on Paulina Avenue, which is a ramp-accessible entry. Customers accessing the station from the 50 Damen bus can transfer to the 7 Harrison or 126 Jackson buses as an alternative that serves the accessible Paulina entrance.
CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. said the improvements will benefit the thousands of riders who travel through the station each day.
“More importantly, as a result of this project work, everyone will have equal and affordable access to this vital transit connection serving nearby medical services, schools and entertainment," Carter said.
SInce 2011, more than 40 CTA stations have received major upgrades and rehabs — nearly 30 percent of the rail system, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office said.
Opened nearly 60 years ago, the IMD Station is the third-busiest station on the Blue Line Forest Park branch with more than 1 million station entries last year. The station provides key connections to four major hospital systems — the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System, the John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County, Rush University Medical Center and the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center. The station also serves Malcolm X College and the United Center.