Hundreds of times a day, el trains pull into the 116-year-old elevated stations just two blocks apart at Randolph and Madison streets along Wabash. CTA President Forrest Claypool can barely wait to see the historic stops demolished.
"And a new superstation will be built in-between that will be modern, that will have platforms twice as wide, that will have modern amenities, that will be accessible to the disabled," Claypool said.
The new Loop Wabash Station, which is used by -- Green, Brown, Pink and Orange line trains -- is part of a $300 million CTA building boom scheduled for the next two years. It will be financed with a combination of federal and city money, seeded in part by revenues generated by the new downtown parking tax, which is one of the controversial levies included in Mayor Emanuel's 2012 budget.
"As I've said before, you cannot have a 21st century economy sitting on a 20th century economic infrastructure," Mayor Emanuel said.
The mayor and Claypool toured the recently refurbished Grand Avenue Red Line station to announce the program, which also includes a complete rebuild of the Clark/Division Red Line station and a new, built-from-the-ground-up Green Line stop at Cermak and Wabash in the South Loop that is only two blocks from McCormick Place.
"This is the most comprehensive investment in the CTA's modernization is over a decade," Mayor Emanuel said.
Rocky Gupta is excited about conventioneers having to walk past his family's Chef Luciano's restaurant.
"I think it's going to be a huge economic boon to all the business the area. To have those people taking public transportation and walking through the neighborhood and getting a feel. There's a lot going on down here and they're missing that right now. The city's missing out on those potential dollars being spent in this area," Gupta said.
CTA officials say that most of the heavy construction work in the program won't happen until 2013.
The mayor says the 300 million dollars in work will support four thousand new jobs.