The Chicago Transit Board today approved a $23 million plan to rehabilitate and improve the accessibility of the Blue Line’s Illinois Medical District CTA station by making all three station entrances accessible to customers with disabilities and additional upgrades, using $23 million of city tax-increment financing (TIF) funds made available through Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “Chicago Neighborhoods Now” program.
Constructed in 1958, the station is the closest CTA rail stop for the nation’s largest urban medical district, the Illinois Medical District (IMD), which is home to four major hospital systems – the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System, the John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County, Rush University Medical Center and the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center. The Illinois Medical District has more than 29,000 employees, has more than 2,200 hospital beds and gets about 75,000 visitors each day. It is also the state’s largest biotechnology/medical complex and an incubator for about 30 emerging technology-based companies. The IMD station also serves Malcolm X College and the United Center.
Over the last five years, ridership at the IMD Blue Line station has increased by 53 percent, to nearly 1.1 million station entries last year, making IMD the third-busiest station on the Blue Line’s West Side Forest Park branch.
"Public transportation is the backbone of the city and connects the city's many neighborhoods, allowing residents to get to work and school,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This much-needed rehabilitation project will help tens of thousands of commuters daily and strengthen the medical district, the neighborhood, and the entire Blue Line."
“We are pleased to begin much-needed improvements to the Illinois Medical District Blue Line station, which is a critical transit hub for thousands of patients, employees and students who visit the state’s premier medical, education and technology center each day,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “I’d like to thank Mayor Emanuel and Ald. Walter Burnett in securing the funding to make this project happen and better serve our customers.”
“The IMD Blue Line station is a transit lifeline for the thousands of residents and workers who use it each day,” said Ald. Burnett. “We’re pleased to work with the Mayor and the CTA in bringing the modern upgrades that this station needs to better serve this West Side community.”
The project will make improvements to all three entrances of the IMD station. These include rebuilding the main stationhouse on Ogden Avenue to make it accessible to customers with disabilities, by adding an elevator and new stairs. The project also includes the reconstruction of two station-to-platform ramps at auxiliary entrances at Damen Avenue and Paulina Street to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines.
Additionally, the project includes improving station and platform lighting; installing additional security cameras and CTA Bus and Train Tracker displays, and making repairs to the station platform canopy. The two auxiliary entrances, at Damen and Paulina, will also be refurbished with new flooring, wall/ceiling finishes, fare-payment equipment and customer assistant kiosks.
With the exception of the Damen entrance, which was renovated in 1998, the station has otherwise only received minor patchwork repairs since it first opened 55 years ago.
The intergovernmental agreement for the project funding is subject to City Council approval.