Brown Line to Get Open, Airy L Stations


By Robert C. Herguth

Date of Publication: January 9, 2003
Source: Chicago Sun-Times


Canopies over L platforms will be wider, transparent in parts and, after dark, illuminated dimly.

The first-floor interior of stations will be "wide open" and visible from the street to improve safety.

Elevated portions of the Fullerton and Belmont stops will include glass-block floors that allow sunlight onto the pavement below, while many other platforms will have wooden floors.

Those are among the highlights in the CTA's near-final designs for the Brown Line, an aging but busy route that starting this year will be overhauled as part of a $476 million project.

While station concepts have been discussed previously at public meetings, plans this detailed have not been out before, said CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney. They were discussed Wednesday at a CTA board meeting and are being presented at community meetings this month.

The elevated stations "all will have a very similar version of that canopy; the canopy will be the signature," said Jack Hartman, a CTA executive vice president.

Canopies will be wider than now, so they will keep away the elements better, he said. They won't have gutters or downspouts. Rain will "drain off to the middle, away from the people," he said.

Other similarities among stations: There will be designated areas to park bikes, less clutter, loudspeakers designed to blare away from nearby homes, and materials that are more resistant to graffiti.

The stations, as they appear from the street, will differ architecturally so they fit into the individual neighborhoods, Hartman said.

The project also includes the installation of longer platforms, better access for the disabled and signal improvements. The line stretches from Kimball Avenue to the Loop. Eighteen stations are being rebuilt or rehabbed.

Ridership has grown steadily on the Brown Line, and CTA President Frank Kruesi said Wednesday the overall number of riders on buses and trains grew slightly in 2002, the fifth straight year with a gain.

Meanwhile, the CTA board approved plans to upgrade the 107-year-old "Paulina Connector," a stretch of elevated track three-fourths of a mile long linking the Green Line with the Blue Line's Douglas Branch. The $33.8 million project will include a power upgrade and the addition of a second track. The connector is used for shuttling trains for maintenance.

While CTA officials say this isn't why they're doing the work, upgrading the connector is the first step in building the "Circle Line," a proposed 13-mile loop swinging as far west as Ashland and linking to other L lines.