JEWELERS ROW — The new Washington-Wabash "L" station is officially open in the Loop.
The $75-million "L" stop replaced two century-old stations in Jewelers Row after making its debut Thursday morning. The new "L" stop serves the Brown, Orange, Purple, Pink and Green lines and now projects to be one of the busiest in the city.
"This is a new gold standard for what a new 'L' station should look like," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at a ribbon-cutting Thursday.
Chicago's newest "L" stop opened today at Washington/Wabash. It's the future! pic.twitter.com/y2ThSbje4k— Tanveer Ali (@tanveerali) August 31, 2017
City officials are calling the new train station a "gateway" to Millennium Park and other attractions in the heart of the city. But building it wasn't easy.
Rebekah Scheinfeld, the city's transportation commissioner, said the station's two-year construction presented "challenges every step of the way" from working in a confined space to keeping Loop trains running and ripping up utilities and "other work that hadn't been touched in 100 years."
Emanuel said he called Scheinfeld every week for updates.
"This was a big lift," she said.
The new "L" station will replace the Madison-Wabash station and the Randolph-Wabash stations, which were both built in 1896, when Grover Cleveland was president. Scheinfeld said between the new train station, bus depot at Union Station and Loop Link bus lanes, the city has invested $150 million in Downtown infrastructure in recent years.
Emanuel also acknowledged that the station's construction disrupted many small merchants on Jewelers Row, who he said did "Yeoman's work" putting up with the project. Wabash, sections of which were closed on and off throughout the project, is back open to car traffic and pedestrians.
"I'd like to thank Jewelers Row businesses for their patience," he said. "Buy something for your loved one."
The station's cost was funded by the federal government, an arrangement credited to Rep. Danny Davis (D.-Chicago).
"Chicago is a first-class city, and when you see the kind of ingenuity and creativity that went into this project ... it just adds another level," Davis said. "$75 million is not chump change, even for Chicago."
The station was designed by Chicago-based architecture firm exp. The new station lights up at night. [City of Chicago]
[Photos by DNAinfo/David Matthews]