CTA poised to rehab Medical District L station

BY ROSALIND ROSSI Transportation Reporter

January 7, 2014 9:41AM

Updated: January 7, 2014 4:48PM

The CTA Blue Line station that serves the Illinois Medical District’s four hospitals will get $23 million in improvements — many focused on making the site more wheelchair-accessible — under a plan approved Tuesday by the CTA board.

The City Council now must OK the deal to tap tax increment financing funds from the Central West TIF to bankroll the project.

The TIF funds were made available through Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “Chicago Neighborhoods Now” program.

The station is the closest rail stop to the nation’s largest urban medical district. The Illinois Medical District is home to the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System; the John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County; Rush University Medical Center and the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center.

The station also serves Malcolm X College and the United Center.

Ridership at the Illinois Medical District station has increased by 53 percent in the last five years, making it the third-busiest of the Blue Line’s West Side Forest Park branch, CTA officials said. Yet other than a 1998 renovation of the Damen entrance, the station has only received “minor patchwork repairs” since its opening 55 years ago, city officials said.

The project will make all three station entrances — at Ogden, Damen and Paulina — accessible to the disabled. The stationhouse on Ogden will get an elevator and new stairs. Plus, the two auxiliary entrances will see reconstruction of station-to-platform ramps.

Other planned improvements include new lighting; more security cameras; CTA Bus and Train Tracker displays; new flooring and customer assistant kiosks.

Construction would begin in mid-2015 and be completed in mid-2016, said CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase.

The Medical District sees more than 29,000 employees and receives about 75,000 visitors each weekday.

Email: rrossi@suntimes.com

Twitter: @rosalindrossi

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