CHICAGO - It's been two long years, but the new CTA station at Washington and Wabash is finally open. CTA riders, Loop drivers and Jeweler's Row business owners couldn't be happier that construction is complete.
"It's going to be a game changer. I take Uber to work a lot and often times they'd have to go all around Michigan Avenue to come back and take another 10 minutes, so it's really nice to have this finally complete," said Claire Keatons, who works in the Loop.
"We're really hopeful that people start coming back to Jewelers District and start shopping at the shops here and the restaurants, so we can get back to business. It's been a long road, a long difficult road," said Tom Sotos, a local business owner.
With its stunning architecture and modern functionality, the first new CTA station in Chicago's Loop in 20 years lives up to its title as the new gateway to Millennium Park.
"To build a station while you took one down, while commuters were using this ongoing, to make that happen, is an incredible statement to all the workers that are here. The engineering, the construction, all the firms that were a part of this effort," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.
The $75 million stop is the first fully ADA accessible CTA station on the east side of the Chicago's Loop, with four elevators, an escalator and wider platforms.
"I was on my way to work and saw this and it's pretty amazing. I know they've been constructing this for a while and it's my first time at this station. I think I'm gonna enjoy it. It gets me closer to work, actually," said Simon Tedla, a CTA rider.
The new station is expected to be one of the CTA's busiest, providing more than 10,000 daily rides on the Orange, Green, Purple, Pink and Brown lines. It stretches along North Wabash Avenue between East Madison and East Washington streets. There are several entrances for convenient access and bus transfers.
"I walked from Washington, the Blue Line, past here every day for the past two years. It's gone from a hole in the ground to this beautiful structure. So yeah, I'm happy to see it," said Rob Petty, who also works in the Loop.
The design is bright, airy and functional, with new LED lighting and security cameras throughout the station.
"I just got off the train and it's really nice. It's absolutely a gorgeous station. It's classy and it's finally done. Construction is finished and out of the way. I hope to use the station a lot," said Paul Copeland, another CTA rider.
The new Washington and Wabash stop replaces two stations that date back to 1896: the Madison and Wabash stop, which was demolished before work began on the new station, and the Randolph and Wabash station, which will stay open until Sunday.
After the Randolph and Wabash station closes, demolition and removal will begin. Street closures are expected. The project should be done by the end of the year.