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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

CTA: New stop expected to open in 2011 in West Loop

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Residents, commuters and businesses in Chicago's West Loop, which has undergone a transformation from primarily a manufacturing district 15 years ago to a vibrant neighborhood with condos, town homes, arty shops and hip bars, are looking forward to a new elevated train station, the Chicago Tribune reports. Allyson Holleb, owner of a handbag shop near the proposed Chicago Transit Authority station at Lake and Morgan Streets, hopes it will bring even more people to the neighborhood. Construction could be a nightmare, she said, but it would be worth it to get a station.

The new stop will be on the Green and Pink lines between the Clinton and Ashland stations, which are more than a mile apart. City officials expect construction to begin later this year or early next year, and they hope the station will open in 2011. The city opened bids for the project last week. The project's cost is projected between $35 million and $40 million, officials said. The city has secured $8 million in federal funds through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program, and the rest will come from tax increment financing.

The West Loop -- loosely bounded by the Kennedy Expressway to the east, Grand Avenue on the north, the Eisenhower Expressway to the south, and Ashland Avenue to the west -- needs a train station, said Brian Steele, spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation.

"That West Loop area has really seen significant growth, both commercial and residential, over the past 15 years," he said. "There is a huge influx of condo conversions and new businesses, and this station will help serve that growth."

Steele said the city will do everything it can to avoid major traffic problems during construction. Lake Street will remain open, but he said it may be reduced to fewer lanes or turned into a one-way street.

More than 3,000 workers come to the neighborhood every day and they should be able to take the "L" to work, officials said. In addition to art galleries and stores, there are many manufacturing companies and distributors of food products and vegetables, he said.

People from outside the neighborhood also could ride the train when they visit Harpo Studios, where The Oprah Winfrey Show is filmed, or to the Haymarket Center, which provides alcohol and drug treatment.

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