An artist's conception of the Washington/Wabash platform shows what the station is envisioned to look like at platform level looking south. The undulating glass and steel canopy is a signature part of the station's design, included both for aesthetics as well as to discourage pigeons from roosting on the canopy structure. For a larger view, click here. (Rendering courtesy of CDOT)
Washington Street and Wabash Avenue, Loop
Established: to be determined
Original Line: n/a
Previous Names: none
Skip-Stop Type: n/a
Washington/Wabash is a proposed station, planned to be built on the Wabash leg of the Loop Elevated in Downtown Chicago. The station would replace and consolidate the Randolph/Wabash and Madison/Wabash stations into one facility, located between the two stations.
The planned construction of a new Washington/Wabash station mirrors work completed on the Wells side of the Loop in the mid-1990s. There, stations at Randolph and Madison were also demolished and replaced with an intermediate stop at Washington. This reduced the number of stations on the west leg of the Loop from three to two, the same number as on the north (Lake) and south (Van Buren) legs of the Loop Elevated (the latter achieving two stops after the opening of Library station in 1997). Replacing the Randolph and Madison stations on the Wabash side will put two stations uniformly on all four sides of the Loop.
Accessibility at the new Washington/Wabash station will be provided by both elevators and escalators. There will also be stairways to both platforms. The platforms will have bright lighting, a communications system with both digital and audio messaging, and windbreaks equipped with overhead heaters for customer comfort during inclement weather. The new facility will be large enough to accommodate customer traffic from both Randolph/Wabash and Madison/Wabash.
The new Washington/Wabash station, like its Wells Street cousin, will seemingly be not over Washington itself but between Washington and Madison, with the south portion of the station probably continuing over Madison Street. This is suggested by the staging of the project, in which the first phase will require closing and demolishing the Madison/Wabash station to allow new construction to begin. The Randolph/Wabash station is to remain open until the new station is completed.
Details about the project will be determined when the design is finalized.
Plans for Consolidation
This artist's rendering of the proposed Washington/Wabash station depicts the facility as seen looking south from the corner of Washington and Wabash Stairs on each corner lead to a mezzanine, with the elevator located on the southwest corner. For a larger view, click here. (Rendering courtesy of CDOT)
The Randolph/Wabash and Madison/Wabash stations have been targets for demolition and consolidation for some time. As early as November 1981, CTA planned to demolish them and construct a new facility at Washington/Wabash. In January 1983, the "Loop Station Renovation Project (Wabash)" included retrofitting the Adams/Wabash station (with construction proposed for the latter part of 1983) and the construction of the Washington/Wabash station in 1985, with Randolph demolished in June of that year. This general plan has been regularly resurrected ever since.More recently, a plan discussed by the CTA in 1998 had the new station placed between Randolph and Washington. In this $29 million version, the new station was to have entrances and/or transit card gates on Randolph, Wabash and Washington. On September 11, 1998, when the CTA announced that they planned to permanently close the State/Lake and Madison/Wabash elevated stations and replace the Randolph/Wabash facility with a "super station." Supposedly combining function, aesthetics and the need to replace "L" structures that date to the 1890s, the new station would have become the third-busiest station in the CTA's system and would've included a pedway connection to the Red Line subway one block away. The design of the new station, which was undergoing final review by officials from the city, the CTA and the Greater State Street Council, was described as a traditional, but modernized version of the Madison/Wabash station. As part of the construction work, the entire elevated structure was to be rebuilt from Lake to Washington Streets and the supports down the middle of Wabash would've been replaced by columns anchored along the curbs.
The consolidation plan languished for several years after, but did not disappear entirely. The designs from the late-1990s were apparently shelved, as the plan to consolidate three stations -- State/Lake, Randolph/Wabash and Madison/Wabash -- was revised in favor of only consolidating the latter two, leaving State/Lake to be replaced with a new station facility east of State Street. An intergovernmental agreement was approved at the April 3, 2003 CTA Board providing $1 million to the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) for preliminary design and engineering work for the construction of a new station at Washington and Wabash. The CTA was to work with CDOT to design the station.
By Autumn 2011, the Washington/Wabash project was estimated to cost is $80.5 million, and officials hoped to have the money lined up to begin construction in 2014 or 2015, according to CDOT spokesman Brian Steele.1 Preliminary designs in place at that time called for stairs and an elevator at Washington Street on the west side of Wabash, and stairs and an escalator on the east side. Midway between Washington and Madison, two stairwells will serve exiting passengers. Two auxiliary entrances will be located on each side of Wabash just south of Madison to serve former users of the Madison/Wabash station. The new station will have larger platforms, increasing from 7-1/2 feet wide in some places currently to up to 16 feet.2 The fare controls, stairs, escalators, elevators, electrical, security and communications rooms will be on the mezzanine level.3
But so far, as of Autumn 2011, only funding for design and engineering had been secured. About $75 million was still needed for construction.4
At the dedication of the renovated Grand Red Line subway station on January 17, 2012, Chicago Mayor Emanuel announced the City's intention to proceed with several "L" station projects, including the new Loop station at Washington/Wabash, as well as construction of a new Green Line station at Cermak and the rehabilitation of the Clark/Division subway station. Final design work was scheduled to begin in May 2012, with construction scheduled to begin in April 2013 and expected to be complete by September 2014.5
Work, however, was delayed due to additional environmental studies that were required for the Loop project that were not initially anticipated, according to CDOT. The project was still in the design phase during Spring 2013, and CDOT anticipated soliciting construction bids by the end of 2013. Construction was projected to begin in mid-2014, with opening of the new station expected in late 2015.6
1. Hilkevitch, John. "Renovation in sight for Red Line eyesore". Chicago Tribune. September 26, 2011.
3."Mayor Emanuel Opens Newly-Renovated Grand Avenue Red Line Station." City of Chicago press release, January 17, 2012.
4. Hilkevitch, ibid.
5. City of Chicago, ibid.
6. Swartz, Tracy. "CDOT: Year delay on Loop superstation." Red Eye. April 23, 2013.