Reopening Racine stop would be an easy way to improve Englewood transit access
While it would be great to see the CTA build new rail lines in the future, such as long-awaited extension of the Red Line to 130th Street, a relatively cheap way to improve transit access and help revitalize communities is by building or reopening infill stations. The agency has done that in recent years with the Cermak and Morgan Green Line stops, and the Skokie-Oakton Yellow Line station. And the construction of a new Green stop at Lake Street and Damen Avenue is slated to begin this year.
Advocates in Englewood are pushing for the CTA to grab some low-hanging fruit by reopening the long-shuttered Green Line station at 63rd Street and Racine Avenue. The stop was closed on a temporary basis as part of an overhaul of the entire Green Line back in 1993, but when the project was completed, the Racine stop was left closed, according to a report from Block Club’s Jamie Nesbitt Golden. Decision-makers cited low ridership and concerns about crime, but the result was a one-mile gap between the remaining Englewood stations at Halsted Street and Ashland Avenue, which contributed to a loss of residents and businesses in the area. The station was spared demolition because of its potentially historic status.
The community organization R.A.G.E. (Residents Association of Greater Englewood) has been campaigning to reopen the stop, which still has an existing stationhouse and platform canopy. The group has invited residents to take an online survey with questions about how the closure impacts their transit access, and whether they’d like to see the service restored, Block Club reported. Needless to say, almost all of the dozens of respondents say they want to reopen the station.
Now the “Go Green On Racine” advocates are asking neighbors to share their stories about their experiences using the Racine station years ago, and the current challenges posed by its closure. “A lot of our on-the-ground organizers always like to uplift stories of residents here in the community, and we wanted to start capturing people’s memories, past and present, and what they see for the future of 63rd [Street],” R.A.G.E. founder Asiaha Butler told Block Club. Her team has been meeting with CTA reps and the federal officials to try to get political support and the estimated $90-100 million in funding needed for the reopening, which they hope could be accomplished by 2024. Transit-friendly local Congressional rep Chuy Garcia has endorsed the project and hopes to allocate $61 million in federal funding for it.
Reopening the Racine station seems like a no-brainer for connecting more Englewood residents to jobs, education, healthcare, and other destinations, and it could help encourage additional investment in the community, such as new retail. And with the Joe Biden administration proposing a dramatic increase in federal transit funding, chances are better than ever that money can be won for this worthwhile initiative.