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Lincoln Square

City officials hold first community meeting for Western Brown Line station improvement project

The purpose of the meeting was to get feedback from residents before finalizing the design.

The Western Brown Line station, looking southeast. Image: Google Docs

This post is sponsored by The Bike Lane.

Last week, city officials held the first community input meeting for the CTA Western Station Improvements Project for the Brown Line stop. The purpose of the meeting was to get feedback from residents before finalizing the design. The hearing was held over Zoom and lasted about an hour.

One of the speakers was local alderman Matt Martin (47th). According to a recent Block Club Chicago report, Martin previously helped secure $20 million to repair and upgrade the station.

"When I think about [the Western Brown Line station] being one of the busiest transit hubs in the 47th Ward on the North Side, I think about the interior being a place that houses to my knowledge the only piece of the Berlin Wall in Chicago, nestled in our historically German American community in Lincoln Square," Martin said. "There's a lot more than we can be doing to make this station a better reflection of the importance that it has here."

Martin thanked Chicago's City Council for approving $8 million in Tax Increment Financing to help pay for the $19 million station improvement project. The initiative is also getting state and federal grants.

"And now the really exciting work gets to begin and that's already been underway with CTA to win a lot of important work," Martin said. "But we know it's so important to hear from the community to make sure that these improvements are things that reflect our unique Lincoln Square community."

Steve Mascheri

CTA vice president of capital construction Steve Mascheri gave a brief overview of the Western station. It was built in 1907, a bus turnaround was added in 1949, the current station house was constructed in 1980, and had its platforms expanded for eight-car trains back in 2009. Outside of some minor modifications to the Berlin Wall, there hasn’t been any work done to the station since then.

The Berlin Wall monument at the Western station. Photo: Matthew Ginger via Wikipedia

The goals for the CTA Western Station Improvements Project are to enhance the customer experience and neighborhood connections; modernize the station and bus turnaround for people with disabilities; bring the station back to a good state of repair, and improve the safety and security of the stop.

"The improvement areas you can see on the map and we see Western on the left and Leland to the north," Mascheri said. "While we're looking to do some work within the station limits, we're also working closely with the Chicago Department of Transportation kind of hand in glove with some additional work that they're looking to do with the walkway over Western Avenue. Our work is focused predominantly with the CTA track structure, the bus turnaround and with the station."

"So the four locations or potential improvements that we're looking at will be the Lincoln walkway and CTA track structure," Mascheri added. "The bus... route and station house exterior... The station house interior will be your floors, ceilings, walls, painting, lighting. And then fourth would be your wedding platform where you wait for the trains."

Work is expected to start as early as next summer on the key areas like the Lincoln walkway and structure painting. Before then, there will be a second community meeting in February or March of 2024 that will present the final project scope and alternative designs. The second meeting will also provide information on early construction work and community impacts. A third community meeting will occur in the late summer of 2024, which will have the final information on improvements, the schedule, and other information.

If you didn't get a chance to attend the meeting, there's an online survey where you can provide input.

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