New Horizons for Chicago's Metropolitan Area

 

Published by: Chicago Transit Authority
Publishing date: 1958


Plan Summary:

The New Horizons for Chicago's Metropolitan Area was the CTA's® master plan for expansion and upgrading of the city's transit system. Published in January 1958, New Horizons was a $315 million, 20-year rapid transit improvement and expansion program to be carried out once financial arrangements had been made.

The New Horizons plan was extremely ambitious, and included a series of new downtown subways, modernization of station and terminal facilities, new "L" extensions further out into the city, installation of signal and train control systems, and the grade-separation of the outer portions of the Lake, Ravenswood and Douglas lines, among other projects.

One of the interesting aspects of the New Horizons plan were the detailed artist's renderings that were made to illustrate the various projects. The drawings were extremely detailed and based closely on actual CTA® facilities and equipment in use at the time.

 

Expansion and Addition Projects:

The projects proposed in the New Horizons plan were divided into three categories and were as follows (all estimated costs are in 1958 dollars):

Construction of Rapid Transit Subways and Extensions

  • West Side Subway: New rapid transit line built in median of Congress Expressway from LaSalle Street to Desplaines Avenue, Forest Park, with a connection to the Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway at LaSalle and at the Douglas branch at Loomis Street; promoted as the first rapid transit line to be built as part of a grade-separated expressway (estimated cost: $27,000,000 for initial section)
  • Northwest Rapid Transit: Extension of the Logan Square branch north to the city limits in the median of the Northwest Expressway, eventually reaching O'Hare Airport (estimated cost: $31,000,000)
  • South Side Rapid Transit: Construction of a new rapid transit line in the median of the proposed South Expressway from 30th Street to 95th Street, with branched to 103rd on the Calumet branch and to 119th on the Blue Island branch, with a connection to the existing Englewood branch at 59th Street (estimated cost: $31,750,000)
  • Southwest Rapid Transit: A busway in the median of the Southwest Expressway from Halsted/Cermak to Cicero/Pershing (estimated cost: $7,000,000)
  • Wells Street Subway: A new high-level subway route (i.e. above the State and Dearborn subways) through the central business district from a connection with the "L" a Chicago/Franklin to a connection with the proposed South Side Rapid Transit line (estimated cost: $25,000,000)
  • Jackson Boulevard Subway: A new high-level subway under Jackson Boulevard from a connection with the West Side Subway [Congress Line] at Halsted Street to a loop under Grant Park (estimated cost: $20,000,000)
  • Washington Street Subway: A bus rapid transit subway under Washington Street from Canal Street to Michigan Avenue (estimated cost: $15,000,000)
  • Lake Street Routing via West Side Subway: Construction of a connection between the Lake Line at the West Side Subway via the Belt Railroad of other north-south alignment on the West Side; Lake trains would likely have all been rerouted to downtown via this connection, allowing the abandonment of the rest of the Lake Line (estimated cost: $3,500,000)
  • Englewood Clearing Extension: Extension of the Englewood branch from Loomis/63rd to Cicero/63rd and Midway Airport through the Clearing Industrial District (estimated cost: $20,500,000)
  • California-Western Rapid Transit: Construction of a new rapid transit line in the median of the proposed Crosstown Expressway from a connection with the proposed Northwest Expressway on the north to the Englewood branch on the south (estimated cost: $14,000,000)

Modernization of Existing Rapid Transit Facilities

  • Loomis Station: Installation of "speed ramp" at Loomis Terminal on the Englewood branch (estimated cost: $33,000)
  • Randolph/Wabash Station: Modernization of Randolph/Wabash station, in conjunction with Marshall Fields department store (estimated cost: $40,000 [CTA's® share])
  • Four-Track Structure at Wilson Avenue Station Area: Reconfiguration of North Side Main Line to maintain four tracks through Wilson station and eliminate operational bottleneck (estimated cost: $1,800,000)
  • Signal and Train Control Systems for Unsignaled Areas: Installation of signal and train control systems on portions f the "L" still operated "on sight" to improve safety (estimated cost: $28,000,000)
  • Lake Street Elevation and Extension: Grade-separation of the street-level portion of the Lake Line from Laramie to Harlem (estimated cost: $4,000,000)
  • Forest Park Terminal: A new terminal for the West Side Subway at Desplaines Avenue, Forest Park, including maintenance, transportation, and parking facilities (estimated cost: $4,000,000)
  • Logan Square Terminal: Expansion and upgrading of the Logan Square terminal; at the end of the Milwaukee Line (estimated cost: $75,000)
  • Howard Street Terminal: Construction of off-street bus transfer facilities and a park'n'ride at at Howard Street terminal (estimated cost: $500,000)
  • Easing Sharp Curves: Reconstruction of 31 sharp curves on the "L" system, such as Harrison Curve and North-Halsted Curve, to allow operation of trains at maximum speeds (estimated cost: $6,400,000)
  • Modernization of Substations: Upgrading and conversion of 27 substations to automatic operation (estimated cost: $23,152,500)
  • Ravenswood Route Grade Separation: Elevation or depression below-grade in open-cut of the outer portion of the Ravenswood branch between Rockwell and Kimball (estimated cost: $4,750,000)
  • Kimball Terminal Modernization: Modernization of the Kimball terminal at the end of the Ravenswood Route, including a massive park'n'ride garage over the station, tracks, and yard (estimated cost: $350,000)
  • Douglas Park Extension and Grade Separation: Elevation or depression below-grade in open-cut of the outer portion of the Douglas branch between Kildare and Central Avenue, Cicero, and extension of the branch to Harlem Avenue, with new yard and terminal facilities (estimated cost: $20,000,000)

Rolling Stock Required for Extensions

  • Acquisition of New Rolling Stock for Proposed Extensions: New rapid transit cars needed to operate the extensions proposed in the New Horizons plan (estimated cost: $35,500,000)

 

The Results:

The following projects from the New Horizons plan were constructed. The others were not:

  • Congress Line (already underway when the plan was published, opened between 1958-60)
  • Northwest Rapid Transit (built as Kennedy Extension, opened 1970)
  • South Side Rapid Transit (built as Dan Ryan Line, opened 1969)
  • Southwest Rapid Transit (built as Midway Line -- an "L" line rather than bus rapid transit -- on railroad right-of-way rather than in the median of the Southwest [Stevenson] Expressway, opened 1993)
  • The Loomis speed ramp was installed in 1956, tested, but ultimately removed in 1964 and not pursued further
  • Randolph/Wabash station was modernized in 1957 in conjunction with Marshall Field's, with a new Inner Loop station house built
  • North Side Main Line reconfiguration to maintain four tracks through Wilson station was executed in 1956-60.
  • Installation of signal and train control system was accomplished through the installation of Automatic Train Control (ATC) on the new Dan Ryan and Kennedy lines when they opened in 1969 and 1970, respectively, and on the rest of the system between 1967 and 1976
  • The Lake Line was grade-separated, elevated onto the adjacent C&NW embankment, completed in 1962
  • A new maintenance shop was completed at Forest Park in 1962; however, a new terminal was not completed until 1980-82
  • The Logan Square terminal received some minor upgrades in 1965-66, but was ultimately abandoned in 1970 when the Kennedy Extension opened
  • The off-street bus transfer facilities and a park'n'ride at at Howard were built in the mid-1950s, completed by the time New Horizons was published
  • Some curves were eased, such as Harrison Curve in 2003, but most were not
  • Many substations have been modernized and replaced over the succeeding decades after New Horizons
  • Kimball terminal was rebuilt and modernized in 1974, though in a much less grandiose fashion than envisioned in New Horizons

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Map of the projects included in the 1958 New Horizons plan. Click image for larger view. (Graham Garfield Collection)

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Artist's rendering of the proposed 103rd/Doty South Expressway Line terminal, including station, yard, maintenance, and park'n'ride garage facilities. Click image for larger view. (Graham Garfield Collection)

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Artist's rendering of the at-grade portion of the Douglas branch grade separated onto an elevated structure. Note the similarity of the station house to the then-new Congress Line stations. Click image for larger view. (Graham Garfield Collection)

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Artist's rendering of the proposed Jackson Boulevard Subway where it would pass over the State Street Subway. Note the Jackson Subway's side platforms as opposed to State Street's island platform. Click image for larger view. (Graham Garfield Collection)

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Artist's rendering of the proposed Northwest Expressway extension where it would pass Pulaski Road. This facility was built as is very similar in appearance to the Irving Park station on the Kennedy Extension. Click image for larger view. (Graham Garfield Collection)

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Artist's rendering of the proposed Southwest Expressway bus rapid transit line at California Avenue. Note the station facilities intended to be built for the line. Click image for larger view. (Graham Garfield Collection)

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