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$50 Million Garfield Gateway Project Will Spruce Up the Green Line Station

Current conditions at the station and a rendering of the rehab. Images: Google Street View, CTA

Yesterday Mayor Rahm Emanuel, CTA president Dorval Carter, Jr., Congressman Danny Davis, and Congressman Bobby Rush announced plans for the $50 million Garfield Gateway project, which involves functional and cosmetic improvements to the Garfield Green Line station. The 'L' stop serves nearly 475,000 riders annually and provides connections with the #55 Garfield bus, which carries more than 3 million customers each year, with connections to the University of Chicago and Midway Airport. Work is expected to begin in 2018 and be finished by 2019.

The gateway project includes extending the platform's weather canopies to provide more shelter; elevator and escalator upgrades; and the installation of public art and landscaping. The elevated track structures spanning Garfield Boulevard, which date back to 1892, when the line was extended south for the world’s fair, will be freshened up with new paint and LED lighting.

Other improvements will include crosswalk upgrades, eco-friendly permeable pavers in front of the station, new landscaping in the boulevard’s media with native plants, benches, bike racks, and bike lanes. The Chicago Department of Transportation indicated that the style of bike lanes have not been determined yet.

The project will also rehab the original Garfield stationhouse on the south side of the boulevard that is no longer used by customers, but still owned by the CTA. The stationhouse, which was landmarked in 2001, will be restored to its original turn-of-the century look, and will be converted to serve a public function, possibly a community space.

The old stationhouse on the south side of Garfield Boulevard. Image: Google Street View
The old stationhouse on the south side of Garfield Boulevard. Image: Google Street View
The old stationhouse on the south side of Garfield Boulevard. Image: Google Street View

“This project will create an iconic gateway to the Washington Park community; further complimenting the larger neighborhood redevelopment initiatives currently underway while enhancing the overall commuter experience,” Emanuel said in a statement.

The Garfield Gateway is also a component of the University of Chicago’s Arts + Public Life Initiative’s Arts Block project, led by Chicago artist Theaster Gates. That project’s goal is to improve Garfield Boulevard through cultural, civic and commercial spaces and programs. A $1.8 million Arts Incubator was constructed in 2013 next to the old station house in an abandoned, historic two-story terra-cotta building.

Half of the funding for the Garfield Gateway is coming from a $25 million U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant that was awarded last year. In a statement, Congressman Davis has noted that the Obama administration helped street plenty of federal funding towards Chicago transit over the last eight years:

This important grant for the Garfield Green Line Station is just the latest in a long list of grants and loans provided to the CTA under President Obama including (among others) $20 million TIGER grant to complete the Blue Line track repair and expand the bike share program, $20 million TIGER grant for improvements to the CTA 95th Street terminal, $79 million TIFIA loan for the CTA 95th Street Bus and Rail Project, $1.25 million FTA Transit-Oriented Development Pilot Planning Program for improvements to the Red and Purple lines, a $255 million USDOT TIFIA loan to purchase 490 rail cars for the CTA nearly one third of the CTA rail fleet.

This morning officials announced the biggest-ever Obama-era grant for Chicago transit, $1.1 billion in Core Capacity funding for the Red and Purple Modernization project. We’ll have more on that story later today.

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