A year after announcing long-overdue renovation plans for the Red Line's Clark/Division subway station, construction started today, as reported in the Tribune.
But to me, the big news is that the Chicago Dept. of Transportation decided to close a part of Division Street for a year, thus cutting the construction price tag in half and slicing at least a year off the timetable.
Last year, the project cost was $102.5 million and was slated for completion in 2016 or 2017. Now, the project is estimated to cost $50.6 million, and be fully completed in mid-2015. The new mezzanine and entrance at LaSalle and Division should be open in fall of 2014.
Closing down Division for the half block from LaSalle to the alley west of Clark Street will make all the difference. And in this case the difference is more than $50 million in savings. The construction of the renovated station at Grand and State took more than three years because the city kept traffic flowing at that key intersection the entire time. That meant workers could only concentrate on select portions of the station. It also made it more difficult for staging construction equipment on the street.
The result of the renovation will look similar to both the recently finished Chicago and Grand stations on the Red Line. The big difference is the addition of a new accessible entrance at LaSalle. New elevators and escalators also will be installed at the Clark/Division entrance.
This is great news all around.