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Wilson Red Line Station Reconstruction Moves Into Its Final Phase

The second island platform is under construction. Visible in the background is an ad for Smoke Dreams, “Chicago’s #1 Smoke Shop,” located in the adjacent building. Photo: CTA

The $203 million rehab of the Wilson Red Line station in Uptown is chugging along. Yesterday city officials marked the start of the final phase of the reconstruction, which involves removing the last section of 100-year-old tracks and building a modern, wheelchair accessible station house.

Starting Monday, CTA trains will run exclusively on brand new elevated tracks near the station, as crews begin demolishing the last of the four old tracks. The station will stay open during the remainder of the renovation project, and Red and Purple Express service won’t be affected, officials said.

“CTA stations do more than move people around, they are neighborhood centers and economic hubs,” said Mayor Emanuel in a statement. “In bringing this historic station into the 21st century, we are also bringing this historic neighborhood the jobs, businesses, and transportation it needs in the 21st century economy.”

“When this project is completed, CTA customers will have a modern, accessible station in the heart of Chicago’s Uptown that will provide better service and also help generate economic development in the historic neighborhood,” stated CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “We are pleased to see the finish line for the new Wilson station and I thank our customers and Uptown neighbors for their patience during this worthwhile project.”

The last of the remaining old tracks, which will soon be demolished. Photo: John Greenfield
The last of the remaining old tracks, which will soon be demolished. Photo: John Greenfield
The last of the remaining old tracks, which will soon be demolished. Photo: John Greenfield

“All the developers and new business owners who have come into this area in the last year have said that it was the rehab of the Wilson ‘L’ that attracted them to Uptown,” said 46th Ward alderman James Cappleman in a statement. “If there ever was a case study for what the rehab of an ‘L’ stop can do, the Wilson ‘L’ is it.”

The station overhaul involves rebuilding the 1923 Gerber Building, located at northwest corner of Broadway and Wilson, including restoring its historic clock tower. More than a half-mile of tracks are being replaced, and once the makeover is completed, the station will function as a transfer point for the Red and Purple lines. That’s likely to encourage some folks who study or work in Evanston to move to Uptown.

The last elevated track to be rebuilt is the easternmost track, which will carry northbound Purple Line trains. One of the new island platforms was completed in September and is currently in use, and the second one will be built as part of this last phase of work.

CTA riders will continue to access the existing island platform from temporary station houses on the north and south sides of Wilson, since the main station house, which will include elevators and escalators, is currently under construction.

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