Chicago's mayor was joined by Senator Dick Durbin and other leaders Monday morning to announce plans for a new 95th Street station. It comes as the CTA is planning a massive rehab of the entire south branch of the Red Line.
Those who use the 95th Street Red Line say the rehab project is long overdue. The station was built in 1969. The multimillion dollar project will transfer the old and dirty station into a user-friendly terminal with retail space.
"I saw not only the long lines, the way it was constructed, kids darting in and out of buses. It was clearly inadequate," said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
That's how Mayor Emanuel describes the CTA's aging 95th Street Red Line station. The system's busiest terminal is slated for a $240 million renovation.
"This will be a tremendous boost to this community. It will bring amenities and the ease of getting in and out of that station," said 21st Ward Ald. Howard Brookins Jr.
The funding includes a $20 million federal grant, future dollars U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says are in danger without the passage of a federal transportation bill.
"If we don't get an agreement between the House and the Senate on a federal transportation bill, 61,000 jobs are at risk in the State of Illinois," said Senator Durbin.
The hub serves over a dozen CTA bus lines, along with Pace, Greyhound and paratransit service, and sees an average of 20,000 passengers a day. It will be upgraded and expanded to resemble a glass-enclosed terminal like those at O'Hare Airport.
CTA officials say the South Side community will see the benefit.
"Whoever the prime contractor, it's gonna be in the contract: He has to open up an office on the South Side," said CTA Chairman Terry Peterson. "The money that he gets, he's gotta put it in an African-American bank on the South Side."
Transportation officials say the upgrade also includes better security. They dispute the perception that violent crimes on the Red Line are increasing.
"The Tribune story looked in the rearview mirror, and we're looking forward under a new mayor and new policing strategies and new technologies that the CTA is employing, and those are working," said CTA president Forrest Claypool.
The terminal is set to remain open during the renovation work, which is set to begin in 2014, after the Red Line south track renovation project is complete.
The renovate should generate 650 construction jobs, according to officials.