THE LOOP — Wabash Avenue is a working street again the Loop.
City officials on Friday reopened a busy stretch of Wabash from Washington to Madison streets that had been closed for years due to construction of a new "L" stop above. The uninviting construction that blocked cars and deterred pedestrians had hit some merchants along Chicago's historic "Jeweler's Row" hard.
“The re-opening of Wabash represents real progress in our push to give the east side of the Loop a beautiful, modern 21st Century elevated station that we can all be proud of,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “We thank all the merchants along Jewelers’ Row who have been open for business and bearing with us during this construction process. We are just a few months away from opening up the new station that will create a fully accessible gateway to the Loop and all the attractions in Millennium Park.”
Once slated to open in 2016, the new Washington-Wabash "L" stop is now expected to open early this summer, officials say. The station will serve the Brown, Orange, Purple, Pink and Green lines and is expected to be the CTA's fifth-busiest station once it opens.
In addition to closing the street to traffic, the new stop's construction will result in the demolition of two century-old "L" stops on Madison and Randolph streets. The stop at Randolph and Wabash has remained open through the new station's construction.
A rendering of the new Washington-Wabash stop. [City of Chicago]
Officials say the station's undulating canopies weave "through the historic Wabash Avenue corridor as a counterpoint to the city grid, and anticipates the soft forms of the park and the lake beyond." The $75-million station, funded by the federal government, also nods to Jeweler's Row with a steel-and-glass skeleton "designed to create a dynamic play of light reminiscent of diamond facets," the city says.