Today, RTA Chairman Kirk Dillard and I were proud to be invited to attend Mayor Emanuel’s 2017 Infrastructure Address. As you probably have already heard, the speech followed an announcement earlier today of plans for a new Green Line ‘L’ station near the United Center on the Near West Side. The new station at Damen Avenue and Lake Street will fill a 1½ mile gap between existing Green Line stations at California and Ashland. Construction on the estimated $50 million project is slated to start at the end of 2018, with the station set to open in 2020.
This exciting plan was a recommendation in the 2009 Reconnecting Neighborhoods plan the RTA completed for the City of Chicago, partnering with Metropolitan Planning Council. The plan made recommendations in three geographic areas of the City: Near North, Mid-South and Near West, the subarea where the Damen station will be built.
The Mayor’s speech today covered a lot of ground, and focused on the theme of “Building a New Chicago.” Public transportation is clearly at the foundation of that work. The Mayor’s remarks included the new Green Line ‘L’ station announcement, as well as a focus on an express train from the Loop to O’Hare, and the important work to renovate and expand Chicago’s Union Station, in which the RTA is a partner.
Transportation as a whole was a common theme in the speech, with discussion of investment in an O’Hare expansion expected to add the capacity of Midway Airport to O’Hare. The Mayor said Chicago is outpacing Washington D.C. and New York in economic development, a success story he attributes to the grit and determination of our region’s residents. We at the RTA certainly agree and look forward to participating in much of the success the Mayor discussed today.