WOODLAWN — Calls to extend the Green Line to Stony Island Avenue are gaining some traction as plans for the Obama Presidential Center spark more interest in revamping the South Side’s public transportation network.
An online petition to extend the line past Cottage Grove Avenue to Stony Island is up to nearly 500 signatures, gaining hundreds in just a few days.
Reuben Lillie, an adjunct professor of music at Olivet Nazarene University who lives in Hyde Park, has been near the train line in Woodlawn trying to get community support behind a push to get a real study done to determine the costs of such a project.
The train line for years carried people all the way to Jackson Park until much of it was torn down in the ‘90s. Bishop Arthur Brazier of Apostolic Church of God and others urged its removal, saying it was hindering business and housing redevelopment.
“Yes, it shouldn’t have been taken down in the first place, but if we’re ever going to put it back, now is the time because we’re building the Obama Presidential Center,” Lillie said in a video promoting his idea. “Is it something the community really wants? That’s what this petition is for.”
Irene Ferradaz, spokeswoman for the CTA, said the agency is not currently pursuing the extension of the Green Line.
“The CTA is focused on rebuilding and modernizing the existing ‘L’ system and on pursuing the extension of the Red Line South to 130th Street,” Ferradaz said. “While there are no current plans to extend the Cottage Grove branch of the Green Line, CTA always looks for opportunities to improve the system to meet ridership demand.”
Lillie wants the CTA to do lots of things, including reuse as much of the old line as possible, but the first of the requests that would likely get any action is a call for the formation of a task force of officials and residents to look into the idea.
Ideally, Lillie and the people signing the petition would like to see at least three new stations built, including on at Stony Island; another somewhere between Stony Island and Cottage Grove and a third between Martin Luther King Drive and Garfield Boulevard.
Once the petition hits 500 signatures, it will be sent to CTA officials, the mayor’s office and other public officials.