Eyes on the Street: 95th Street Station Work Is Rolling Along

The south (bus) terminal of the 95th Street station photographed in December, looking northwest. Photo: CTA
The south (bus) terminal of the 95th Street station photographed in December, looking northwest. Photo: CTA

The $280 million rehab of the CTA’s 95th Street Red Line terminal appears to be moving along nicely. Originally built in 1969, the station is one of the transit system’s busiest, serving some 20,000 people a day with 24-7 Red Line service plus over 1,000 CTA and Pace bus trips on a typical weekday, as well as Greyhound and Indian Trails intercity bus service. The construction work, which began in fall 2014, is generally being done without service disruptions.

An aerial rendering of the 95th Street station looking northwest, with the south bus terminal to the left and the north train terminal to the right. Image: CTA

The new station will straddle busy, multilane 95th Street, with bus loading and unloading concentrated at the new south terminal and train access from the north terminal. Customers will be able to transfer between the terminals via a wheelchair-accessible sky bridge.

CTA officials promise that the new facility will be a huge improvement over the old one, with “bright, airy spaces” thanks to the station being largely enclosed in glass, and clear sightlines. Platforms will be widened for easier passenger flow and bus lanes and bus bays will also be expanded to ease congestion. There will also be wider sidewalks and waiting areas in the bus terminal, and acoustic panels on the ‘L’ platforms to reduce noise from the Dan Ryan Expressway.

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The south terminal photographed in December and a rendering of what the finished facility will look like. The second floor will house a conference room for bus and rail operators. Images: CTA

At this point the CTA hopes to complete the south terminal this spring, according to spokeswoman Irene Ferradaz. “A good deal of progress has already been made on the terminal facility as well as the bus turnaround area,” she says. “This includes installing much of the building steel, pouring the concrete for the concourse foundation and working on the installation of the second floor and roof, as well as track improvements.”

Ferradaz added that crews are continuing to work on the bus turnaround, including widening 95th Street to accommodate the facility and installing canopies. “We’ve also begun work for the north terminal, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.”

A side view of the south terminal, showing framing for the aluminum curtain wall. Photo: CTA
A side view of the south terminal, looking east, showing framing for an aluminum curtain wall. Photo: CTA

In addition, internationally recognized local artist Theaster Gates is creating what the CTA says will be the largest public art project in the transit agency’s history, influenced by input taken from residents at five public meetings in 2013 and 2014. The plans for the installations were unveiled last July.

Rendering of the sound studio. Image: CTA
Rendering of the sound studio. Image: CTA

One piece of the $1.3 million project is titled “an extended song of our people (AESOP), located in the north terminal, will involve a sound studio that will host live performances and presentations by DJs, musicians, poets, and other community members, with the programming played through the station’s P.A. system. The CTA says the idea for the space was sparked by comments at the hearings indicating “a strong interest in developing a living space that would allow for the celebration of past achievements, to showcase current talent, and for the space to be a symbol of hope.” The facility could potentially broadcast via Internet radio.

Rendering of the tapestry installation area. Image: CTA
Rendering of the tapestry installation area. Image: CTA

The second portion of Gates’ project, titled “america, america,” will consist of two large tapestries (which figure heavily in the artist’s collection of work), located in the south terminal, made from colorful strips of fire hoses and galvanized steel. The choice of materials seems to refer to the hoses turned on marchers during the African-American civil rights movement and, perhaps, the bars of jail cells. The CTA says the tapestries will be “reflection the importance of the civil rights movement and the struggle and acknowledgement that the work of equity and equality is an ongoing effort not carried by one people, but by all.”

  • Anne A

    I wish that Marian Hayes was alive to see the sound studio installation. I think she would have liked it. https://chi.streetsblog.org/2016/01/12/slow-roll-chicago-mourns-the-loss-of-member-marian-hayes-to-a-traffic-crash/

  • Anne A

    I knew it would be a challenge dealing with such a huge construction project. At times, lane closures have had a huge impact on traffic when I’ve needed to take a car trip. Sometimes platform and track work have caused some delays (usually a few minutes) on trains.

    The biggest impact for me have been the reconfigurations of bus stop locations. The last time I needed to catch the 95th St. bus there, I discovered that the pairing of the 95 and 381 buses that’s been such a huge help in the last few years has been broken, partly due to the combining of the 95E and 95W into one route.

    For now, the 95 doesn’t pull into the station at all. Because the sidewalk area on the bridge is now behind a construction fence, boarding for the westbound 95 now requires crossing either State or Lafayette and waiting in a dicey location next to the street. On an eastbound trip to reach the station, I have to get off at Lafayette and walk across both 95th and Lafayette – hairy at times.

    It makes CTA a less convenient Plan B at times when the Metra schedule doesn’t work for me, or if Metra is having problems. I’m grateful that I don’t have to deal with the current configuration every day, because those street crossings can be hazardous, especially crossing State or Lafayette to board a westbound bus. Risk of street crime is greater as well, since the stops are out of sight of the police who do such an excellent job of monitoring activity within the station. I hope that they can cover the new larger station as effectively once it’s open.

    I wonder what the next reconfiguration of bus stops will be. It keeps me guessing, and I have to allow extra time for my trip.

  • Kelly Pierce

    The sound studio/DJ booth sounds cool. I fear that instead
    of people reading poetry or playing hip hop or jazz it will be taken over by religious
    extremists screaming their doctrine to the masses at rush hour. I hope the CTA
    is mindful of this and doesn’t let these parasites take over.

  • Tooscrapps

    I am not familiar with the layout of this station but shouldn’t prepaid boarding be part of the equation of any new bus terminal?

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Let’s just make sure the homophobic Old Navy Preacher doesn’t get any airtime. http://www.lumpenmagazine.org/jagoff-of-the-week-the-old-navy-street-preacher/

  • Anne A

    I appreciate the fact that this will relieve the extremely tight space constraints for buses in the current bus area. I also welcome the prospect of wider areas for passengers waiting or walking. However, after my experience with the reconfiguration of Howard station several years back, I wonder if this will introduce a new problem.

    At Howard, some trips require going “up and over” between the bus area or west platform and the east platform, which means that connections are sometimes missed by seconds because the person making the connection had to spend an extra minute or two on the crossover. I can picture similar things happening when someone is on the flyover bridge above 95th St. – seeing their bus depart and having to wait as long as 20-30 minutes for the next one. There’s always a trade-off.