Granville: Edgewater Station Construction Kicks of CTA Overhaul of Older Red Line Stops
By Raissa Correa and Jaimee Capili
The Red Line Project
Posted: Thusday, May 31, 2012
The commute to work can be compared to a war zone for riders like Antoine Stroud who has to dodge rotting wood in efforts to get downtown in one piece.
“Looking at the planks on some of these stops, it’s like walking into a death trap for your ankles,” said Stroud, who uses the Red Line to get to work five days a week. “I applaud the person who finally took the time to notice.”
It is a simple observation that has led to the City of Chicago’s decision to invest $86 million to improve some of the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) oldest, most run-down stations, including Jarvis, Morse, Granville, Thorndale, Berwyn, Argyle and Lawrence.
“We need better lighting and flooring for sure,” said Dwight Green, who uses the Red Line two to three times a day. “These stations have been around for 100 years and the infrastructure is getting old and decrepit.”
The first station to undergo a facelift will be the Granville stop, which starts on Friday. The stop will be closed for six weeks.
The Red North Station Interim Improvements Project will expand to Sheridan, Loyola and Bryn Mawr, reaching more North Side Red Line stops. Officials set the expected completion date as the end of 2012.
According to the Transit Chicago website, the main focuses would be upgrading lighting under the viaduct, sidewalk repairs, refurbish canopy structures and so forth. The construction is part of a $1 billion Red North Station Interim Improvements project that extends to many Chicago El stops on and beyond the Red Line.
“Most of the stations being repaired were built in the early 1900s and in need of being built up from their early foundations,” said Catherine Hosinski, a CTA spokesperson. “It (Red North Station Interim Improvements Project) will provide a life-extension for these stations that will last for many years until a more comprehensive reconstruction plan is approved and fully funded.”
Not only will the reconstruction improve the experience of Chicago riders, but it will also create construction jobs, Hosinski said. Since it is a design-build format project, the contractor will be planning in stages while work is underway, so the CTA is unable to predict the exact number of jobs the project will generate, she said.
While the changes are expected to improve the stops, some residents who live near the El stops say they are still looking for more. They said that the CTA should be investing in escalators and elevators to better serve people with disabilities.
“We definitely need an escalator because there is a lot of traffic at this stop,” said Eno Udoubak, who said he signed a petition four months prior to revamp the Argyle stop. “The CTA needs to understand we are in the heart of a commercial district. We have the elderly as well as people who transport their heavier belongings on wheels as a way of life.”
Video: How the Wilson stop upgrade could impact the Uptown
neighborhood. (Video by Paul Tadalan and Alex Thibodeau)
Gina Smith, a frequent CTA rider, said it is hard traveling on the El with her aunt, who has difficulty walking. She also mentioned how it isn’t only the elderly who have trouble walking on the platform. She has seen people trip getting off the platform at stations like Lawrence because the flooring is low and the wood is rotting.
“We deserve to have much higher quality stations since we put so much money into our daily commutes,” said commuter Eric Medina. “I appreciate the work that the CTA is putting in for us as commuters. It shows that they truly are customer service driven and are headed into the right direction as a business.”
“With the exception of those affected by the temporary station closures, every effort is being made to minimize the impact to customers during this rehabilitation project, including scheduling work that will impact service to overnight or weekends only,” said Hosinski.
The scheduled temporary closures are posted on the Chicago Transit website. Riders are suggested to find an alternative route at these times.
“I don’t mind walking a few extra blocks to the next stop as long as something is being done,” Green said. “People take the transit system for granted because they use them everyday. I’ve been in Chicago my whole life and I will take the train over a car every time.”
Interactive map: Click on the pins for details of construction plans for Red Line stops.
View Red Line Construction in a larger map