Amid all the fanfare and preparations for the NATO summit, the Chicago Department of Transportation quietly opened the Morgan stop in the West Loop on Friday.
Green and Pink Line riders can now use the station, under construction since the summer of 2010. There were more workers putting finishing touches on the platform than riders waiting for trains Friday morning when Going Public visited the station, off Morgan and Lake Streets.
The stop is the second station the CTA has opened in three weeks after years without new stations. The Oakton-Skokie Yellow Line stop debuted in Skokie last month.
There are some very fancy and unique amenities at the Morgan stop. Platforms are covered to shield riders from harsh weather. There is also a covered walkway above the tracks so riders can transfer between platforms amid beautiful views of Chicago's skyline.
The electronic displays are not the typical large stand-alone TV screens at some CTA stations. They are smaller and hang from the platform covering. GP didn't notice any advertisements on the electronic displays on Friday.
The bike parking spaces outside the stationhouse are not the standard racks. Riders can lock their bikes to stands fashioned as loops and other interesting shapes.
The CTA estimates the station cost $38 million for design and construction. When the city broke ground on the project two years ago, officials said $30 million in tax increment financing (TIF)—money intended to promote redevelopment in certain areas in the city—would help pay for the station.
The rest of funding comes from federal and state grants, according to the CTA. Final costs will not be known until finishing details are complete.
Some have been anxiously awaiting the station's arrival.
Roger Romanelli, executive director of the Randolph-Fulton Market Association, said his economic development group has been pushing for the station for the last decade. A Green Line stop nearby at Halsted and Lake Streets was shuttered in the mid-1990s.
"We have a couple of factories located within two blocks of Morgan Street. There's a real high concentration of employees. Very critical for them to have that public transportation option," Romanelli said.
A grand opening ceremony for the Morgan stop is expected in the next few weeks.
"EL Stories," the play about commuting in Chicago, opens June 2 with a new cast and script. The play adapts the story of British transit enthusiast Adham Fisher, who recently set a record for the "L" Challenge—riding the entire rail system in one day.
The show runs every Saturday at 11 p.m. through Aug. 18 at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. Tickets are $15 at greenhousetheater.org.
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A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note
This week: LaSalle/Van Buren
Like a Golden Girl who's having trouble hiding her age, the LaSalle/Van Buren stop could use a facelift—or at least a little makeup. The Loop station was built in the late 1800s and it shows. Paint is peeling off the walls and the stairwell leading to the platform. Rust seems to be the No. 1 visitor to the station. Just a good scrub and a few coats of paint would broaden the appeal of this station. Better to have appeal than a peel.
Next up: 35th/Archer Orange Line