Howard El stop renovation may start by 2005

Scott Gordon

Plans for renovating the Howard Street CTA station are nearly complete and are about to undergo final revisions from architects and local residents, a CTA spokeswoman said Wednesday. An aide to a Chicago alderman also said work on the renovation project could begin before the end of the year.

“We’re getting there,” said Robin Ziegler of CTA Media Relations. The station, which was initially completed in 1920, needs to be renovated in order to be compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Currently the station is not at all accessible to the physically handicapped, Ziegler said. The renovation plans provide for the construction of three handicap-accessible elevators, The Daily reported in October 2002.

Ziegler said making the station ADA compliant is “really key.”

“It’s a key station,” she said. “It’s a major transfer point for many modes of transportation.” CTA trains to and from Evanston, Skokie and Chicago pass through the Howard station, which also is a major hub for Pace bus service.

The station renovation’s official current designer is Parsons Transportation Group, a firm that also has worked on rapid transit in New York, California, China and many other locations worldwide.

Throughout the design process, the CTA has held community meetings with residents in north Chicago, working closely with residents of Chicago’s 49th Ward and its alderman, Joe Moore, Ziegler said. Moore and several residents organized a task force dedicated to communicating with the CTA about citizens’ concerns about the station.

In the past, citizens have complained that the station is unsafe and dirty.

“The alderman and community residents have provided us with input at each point,” she added. Residents and designers have been holding meetings to discuss the station since June 2002, The Daily reported in October 2002. The latest meeting with Moore’s task force was held July 14.

Construction ideally will begin as early as this fall, but is more likely to begin in the winter, Michael Land, a staff assistant for Moore, said Wednesday.

Land said the CTA likely will begin to receive construction bids within the next few weeks and award a contract to a builder in late August.

In addition to making the station accessible to people in wheelchairs, the renovation project will provide the station with a second entrance, a new facade and a new pedestrian bridge to the nearby Gateway Shopping Center, Land said. The project also will include space for CTA administrative offices at the station, he added.

“Frankly, the station is worn out,” Land said, adding that he thinks it needs to be renovated simply in order to be able to carry on efficiently into the future.

The plans for the new station “will go back out to the community in the not-too-distant future,” once the architects involved in the project have approved them, Ziegler said.

Ziegler said the CTA plans to keep the Howard station up and running during the construction. “We don’t expect to have problems with service,” she said.

Several stations on the Cermak-Douglas branch of the Blue Line currently are undergoing renovations but still are accessible, Ziegler added.

The CTA will have to work out the details of keeping the station accessible once it has awarded a contract to a construction company, Ziegler said.

City Editor Scott Gordon is a Medill junior. He can be reached at [email protected]