'Spectacular' station at Wilson – what it might includePatrick Barry, August 22, 2012
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, at a press conference August 14 celebrating the renewed Morse CTA station, said there was much more to come, including a “spectacular” new station at Wilson and Broadway.
Wilson serves 5,400 boarding passengers each weekday and has been called the CTA’s crustiest station. It’s 90 years old, the adjacent storefronts are beaten down and empty, and the clientele includes a representative sampling of the neighborhood, some of whom are indeed rather crusty.
The historic Gerber building and its terra cotta facade will be rebuilt as part of the project. (Photo by Patrick Barry)
So this is a big deal. And it’s going to happen – soon.
Responding to inquiries from CTA Station Watch, CTA spokesperson Catherine Hosinski has confirmed that the station is now in the design phase and that demolition of two buildings under the tracks will likely take place in the second quarter of 2013, clearing the way for first-phase construction.
Hosinski also confirmed that the station will be a two-track transfer station, allowing riders to switch back and forth from Red Line and Purple Express trains.
At ground level, “plans include the restoration of the terra cotta exterior of the (Gerber) building” at Wilson and Broadway, Hosinski said.
The CTA plans to keep the station open throughout the construction process, she added, though there will be disruptions to service, especially overnight and on weekends.
How it might happen
Hosinski couldn't offer more details at this time, "since designs have not yet been finalized." But a close look at the station site and at previously published materials allows some educated guesses.
The Wilson site offers plenty of room for a new two-platform transfer station. See custom Google map here: http://goo.gl/maps/XWkOP
First, it’s a big project with an estimated budget of $200 million, according to an April 2012 press release from the Mayor’s Office. Its two-platform design is likely to share basic structural characteristics with the recently built Fullerton and Belmont stations, including wide platforms that provide plenty of room for elevators and passengers. But unlike Belmont and Fullerton, which required acquisition of adjacent properties, the Wilson station will fit neatly into the available space.
Because the site was once a two-level train yard serving multiple railroads, the current southbound express track swings way west from the other tracks, leaving room in the middle to build a new track and the southbound platform. There’s a CTA carpenters shop on the south side of Wilson and the vacant Wilson Broadway Mall on the north; those are the buildings that will be demolished in 2013.
At the south end, several rail stubs remind older passengers that this was the site of the old Wilson Shops, which burned down in 1996. Those stubs can be removed to make way for the wider northbound platform. (See customized Google map.)
CTA President Forrest Claypool said on August 14 that the Wilson project will include “a significant portion of new signal and track on either side of the station,” which will allow engineers to design the soft curves that guide trains around the platforms.
And if the CTA follows through on its own concepts, shown to the public at Red & Purple Modernization meetings in January 2012, the station will stretch far enough south to allow an entrance and exit at Sunnyside, serving the Target and Aldi stores on the east and Truman College on the west. (The Sunnyside entrance is labeled “potential” on pages 14-16 of the CTA’s meeting exhibit boards.)
And at street level?
Perhaps even more important to neighborhood residents than the new platforms will be restoration of the historic stationhouse, which was designed in the 1920s as a major passenger-rail terminal by architect Arthur U. Gerber. It’s a big space with a grand staircase in the middle and plenty of room for retail uses on either side of the current entrance.
When built, the building included an ornamental arch at the corner of Wilson and Broadway, which was removed in the late 1950s. Early this year, Ald. James Cappleman said restoration of the arch would be part of the station job.
Former Alderman Helen Shiller in 2010 advanced the notion of a French Market in that space to create a safe space for passengers and opportunities for entrepreneurs selling produce and other goods. More recently Uptown artist Jeffrey Littleton has proposed adding a soundstage to encourage passengers to slow down and patronize the vendors.
Public meeting this fall
The CTA will hold a public meeting later this year to provide more details on the project, as well as preliminary renderings, said Hosinski. If we learn more in the meantime, we’ll post it here on CTA Station Watch. More photos of current conditions at the station on our Facebook page.comments powered by Disqus