The Union Station Transit Center and Wilson Station Rehab Are Rolling Along

The new temporary entrance to the Wilson stop on the north side of the street is almost finished. Photo: John Greenfield

Steven Vance and I took advantage of today’s sunshine to check out the progress of two major transit projects that are slated to wrap up this spring.

CDOT rendering of the Union Station Transit Center, looking west.

The $43 million Union Station Transit Center will be a key enhancement to the Loop Link bus rapid transit corridor. Located on Jackson between Canal and Clinton, the new facility will replace a surface parking lot. The Chicago Department of Transportation is spearheading this project.

Looking southeast at the construction site. Photo: Steven Vance

The transit center will include sheltered staging areas for CTA buses, plus an elevator leading to an underground Amtrak pedway. That will allow customers to make fairly seamless transfers between buses and trains.

Looking east at the the construction site. Photo: Steven Vance

Meanwhile in Uptown, the CTA is completing the first phase of the $203 million Wilson Station overhaul. Phase I, which started in March 2015, included the demolition and reconstruction of the southbound Purple Line Express track, the westernmost of the four-track elevated structure that accommodates Red and Purple service.

Looking east at the new elevator structure. Photo: John Greenfield

Phase I also included building a new Loop-bound platform with temporary entrances at the north and south side of Wilson, as well as a temporary entrance a block south on Sunnyside, which will be used during a later stage of the project. The northern temporary entrance on Wilson appears to be nearly finished, and the new stairs to the new platform are coming along as well.

Looking south: The stairway to the new platform is taking shape. Photo: John Greenfield

Presumably, Phase II of the project will include demolishing and rebuilding the platform and metal tracks that are currently in use. The latter are more than a century old.

As the Update Update recently pointed out, it’s remarkable that the CTA has been to rebuild this heavy train infrastructure over the course of a year without suspending train service. I’m looking forward to climbing the stairs to the spanking new platform and taking a ride on the smooth new rails.

  • Fred

    “CDOT rendering of the Union Station Transit Center, looking south.”


    “Looking north at the the construction site. Photo: Steven Vance”


  • Ben Stewart

    “plus an elevator leading to an underground Amtrak pedway. That will allow customers to make fairly seamless transfers between buses and trains.”

    I’m trying to imagine a “seamless” flow of people between buses and trains taking… an elevator? Not stairs or an escalator? Anybody understand how that would work?

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Good catch. Fixed, thanks.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    A CDOT news release from last year mentioned the elevator, but it’s probably safe to assume there will be stairs and an escalator as well.

  • I assume that private buses are not accommodated within the transit center? Or is there space for them? I suppose that even if there isn’t space for them in the center that they will be able to discharge from the street with at least less affect on the Loop Link system than now?

  • “Passengers will be able to walk between the station
    and the new Transit Center without crossing streets by using a new stairway and elevator connected to the existing underground walkway between the station’s concourse and Amtrak’s parking structure.”

  • Okay. So there is a red lane on the south side of Jackson next to the transit center. Is that for Loop Link buses? Is it for the LL buses going back east? Where do the buses continuing south and west drop off?

    The Union station master plan mentions stairs and elevator but not escalator at the Transit Center.

    So can you guys dig up more answers in your next Transit Center report? What buses will use what aspects of the TC and what will the full routes look like for buses coming in and going out from the TC and the LL? And what are the expectations for the private buses?

    This document:

    says to send questions to:

  • Cameron Puetz

    I’m also curious if Amtrak will have a new boarding area for their Thruway connecting busses or if those will continue to board in the street. Union Station has the potential to be a great hub for all surface transportation, but only if there is some coordination and cooperation between all of the operators running services there.

  • neroden

    It would be good to get more answers regarding planned usage — what buses will stop where — It’s quite confusing.

    Also, any news on the redesign and reconstruction of the key block of Canal Street? This is a critical element to Loop Link and to taxis and pickup/dropoff for Union Station and to Amtrak Thruway Buses, and it seems to be the last and most delayed part of the project.

  • planetshwoop

    The elevator exists today to get from the parking structure to the platform.


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