New State/Lake ‘L’ station will be a sleek new portal to the Loop

Rendering of the station, looking north from the Chicago Theater.
Rendering of the station, looking north from the Chicago Theater.

Update 6/29/21, 8:15 PM: Readers have pointed out that a major downside of the State/Lake station design is that there’s no direct transfer to the nearby Red Line subway – you’ll still have to leave the system and head south on the sidewalk to a Red Line station entrance. We’re asking CDOT whether it would have been physically possible (within reason) to create a direct transfer to the Red Line and, if so, how much it would have cost. -JG

The Chicago Department of Transportation and the Chicago Transit Authority recently unveiled preliminary plans for the new State/Lake ‘L’ station. This project is one of many in the queue for the CTA. The current State/Lake station is more than a century old and inaccessible to riders in wheelchairs and others with mobility challenges. The new station will be fully accessible, have wider platforms, and offer a close-up view of the landmark Chicago theater.

Given that the State/Lake ‘L’ station serves five of the CTA’s eight rail lines and was the second busiest Loop L station as of 2019, this redesign will benefit a large number of riders. “The intersection of State and Lake Streets is an iconic location in the heart of Chicago, and it deserves a station that makes a bold statement while meeting the needs of the 21st Century transit customer,” said CTA president Dorval R. Carter, Jr. in a statement. 

Rendering of the view from the platform, looking south.
Rendering of the view from the platform, looking south.

The design and construction process is being led by CDOT on behalf of the CTA. The station design, by TranSystems/ Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, features platforms that are double the current width, to better accommodate customers. There will also be a full-coverage, glass canopy to offer protection from rain and snow and a walkway to more easily allow for passengers to transfer between the inner and outer platforms.

Rendering of a train's-eye view of the station, looking east.
Rendering of a train’s-eye view of the station, looking east.

Accessibility will be achieved through four elevators, each located at a corner of State and Lake. These elevators will also allow for improved connectivity between the elevated Loop ‘L’ tracks and Red Line subway along State Street. 

So far the project has received $11 million in engineering and design funding and $119 million in construction funds through the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program. The project is estimated to cost $180 million so the city is exploring other potential funding sources. Once the design process is completed and full funding is achieved, construction is expected to take about three years to complete. 

Rendering of the station at night, looking north.
Rendering of the station at night, looking north.

“The design for the new State and Lake CTA station provides a first class, fully accessible new gateway serving transit riders from every corner of Chicago at this historic intersection in the center of the city,” said CDOT Commissioner Gia Biagi. “The investment in this light-filled new transit hub sends a strong message that Chicago’s downtown is coming back better than ever from the challenges we’ve faced in the last year.”

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