It’s getting real: Feds award $2M for feasibility study on reopening Racine Green stop
Thanks to the efforts of Englewood community advocates and local officials, the CTA is set to receive a $2 million federal grant to conduct a feasibility study on reopening the shuttered Racine Green Line station. The news came courtesy of project supporter Congressional rep Bobby Rush (1st), who represented the district for 15 terms before stepping down last Tuesday. (His successor is activist and entrepreneur Jonathan Jackson.)
“CTA is grateful for Congressman Rush’s push for federal funding that will allow CTA to explore planning and design concepts for a reopened Racine Green Line station,” said a CTA spokesperson. “Congressman Rush has always been a strong supporter of public transit and the CTA, and the Racine project is the latest in a long line of important investments the Congressman has helped ensure.”
Reopening the ‘L’ stop, which has been closed since 1993, would be a large-scale station project, according to the CTA. Like other initiatives of its type, it would require preliminary design and engineering in order to determine what’s the best way to move forward, as well as to position the project to receive additional funding for its engineering, design, and construction. The spokesperson called the grant “an important first step” in completing the project.
The station, which was only supposed to have been shut down for two years, was in danger of being demolished until Landmarks Illinois stepped in. According to its website, Landmarks Illinois is “an on-the-ground advocate, offering technical assistance, practical resources, small grants, education and endless support” in order to save historic buildings. Because of the group’s advocacy, the Racine stop was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
“While it’s too soon to know what the specific cost might be, or what timeline the project might follow, the scope of the work would be extensive – including a complete reconstruction of the old station house, platforms and stairs, as well as the addition of elevators, and historical preservation work,” the CTA spokesperson said. “That extensive scope of work could reach $100 million.”
However, the CTA says it’s fully invested in seeing the project to completion. CTA president Dorval Carter Jr. argued in a recent letter to the Chicago Sun-Times that reopening the Green Line station would revitalize the surrounding community and complement the other projects that the CTA has done on the South Side,
“As the Sun-Times noted in its editorial ‘Reopen long-shuttered Green Line L station in Englewood,’ and as the CTA has always expressed, the opening or re-opening of a rail station can invigorate communities and attract new jobs, opportunities and development,” Carter wrote. “Recent investments like the Cermak-McCormick Place and Morgan Green Line stations, and the reconstruction of the Wilson Red/Purple Line station, have shown this to be true. Those investments have been particularly beneficial to the South and West Side, from the complete reconstruction of the Red Line South and a new 95th Street terminal, to planned improvements to the Cottage Grove and 43rd Street Green Line stations.”
The Englewood community development groups Teamwork Englewood, R.A.G.E., and IMAN, formed a coalition called Go Green on Racine, dedicated to reopening the station. Go Green on Racine created a survey to collect community input and launched an online petition for the reopening that has garnered about a thousand signees.
“The signatures are proof of the overwhelming support we’ve received from the 16th Ward to reopen the Green Line station,” said Cecile DeMello, executive director of Teamwork Englewood, in December. “Elected officials can see clearly that this is important to the residents and the residents want to see it get done.”
Even after Carter had publicly endorsed reopening the station, Go Green on Racine provided testimony at the December CTA board meeting urging the transit agency to move forward with the project. “A letter of support also has to be backed up with funding and dollars to make it a reality,” explained Asiaha Butler, CEO of R.A.G.E. “We just wanted to acknowledge that he has our support, which is great, but at the same time also just let the whole board know how important this is to our community.”
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