Following is a guest post by James Connelly. All photos also are by James.
The new CTA station at Morgan Street on the Green Line and Pink Line may be new, but it is a rebirth of past Chicago public transportaion history.
Recently I had a chance to ride the rails and survey the ongoing construction site.
For near West Loop residents, this will be the first added rail stop built on the CTA system since the opening of the Orange line in the 1993.
The first Morgan station was one of the 20 initial stations along the Lake Street Elevated Rail Road when it opened in 1893. The station operated continuously until April 4, 1948, when the newly created CTA closed it due to low ridership because of shifts in urban population, in an attempt to speed up and simplify rail service along the line. The following year, the station was demolished. The near West Side continued to be served by a station at Halsted Street, four blocks to the east. That Halsted Station was closed and also was removed during the 1994 Green Line reconstruction.
Development in the West Loop in the past 15 years brought calls for better rail line service from the CTA. The plan for the rebirth of the Morgan Street Station was born in 2003. Most of the project’s money is coming through the Central/West Tax Increment Financing District, which doesn’t actually include the station, but serves many of its neighbors, including the Randolph-Fulton Market Association.
Currently, the Chicago Department of Transportation estimates the total cost at $35 to $40 million. Initially, the neighborhood planned to cover the entire cost with funding from a local TIF district. Recently, however, the Chicago Department of Transportation decided to seek federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program funding to cover $8 million of the cost, allowing some of the TIF money to be used for other purposes.
After several months spent relocating utilities and reinforcing support columns for the $38 million project, the basic steel outline of the station is taking shape.
But their initial work hasn’t come without bumps in the road — they’ve found a few surprises so far, like an original brick sewer line from the 1800s. Such issues haven’t delayed the project.
Since Green and Pink line trains will still be running along the tracks during construction, it forces much of the labor to happen as workers dodge trains. Some work has happened overnight when the systems are shut down for overnight use.
The station house is designed by TranSystems which did the new Chicago Avenue Brown/Purple line stop. Like most currently active Green Line, Pink Line and Brown Lines stations, the Morgan Station will be ADA-accessible, with an elevator on either side of the tracks. The station also will have bike storage on street side along Lake Street.
With plans for art work on the Lake Street level entrance and additional input from residents of the 27th ward, the Morgan Station should be on track to open mid-2012.