Revamped Kedzie stop welcomes first riders


By Curtis Lawrence

Date of Publication: March 30, 2004
Source: Chicago Sun-Times


Stainless steel "wings" form a canopy over the tracks to protect commuters from the weather at the rehabilitated Kedzie Blue Line stop. The station also features a central platform. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Rich Hein for the Sun-Times)

At its peak in 1945, the Blue Line's Kedzie L station in North Lawndale processed more than 939,000 passengers -- more than 26 times the 35,000-some people who got on trains there last year.

But Monday -- after unveiling a revamped Kedzie station that underwent $15 million in improvements -- CTA President Frank Kruesi vowed to return the stop and the rest of the Blue Line's long-neglected Cermak-Douglas Branch to its glory days.

"As the West Side is rebounding, there's a real opportunity for this station to be a central part of the revitalization of this entire community," Kruesi said.

Kruesi and CTA Chairwoman Carole Brown led a tour of the new station, which went back into service just after 4 a.m. Monday. Passengers used a temporary platform about a block away during construction.

The new structure features enhanced lighting, overhead heaters, new elevators and escalators, and a state-of-the-art public-address system.

"If you had seen this station before it was rebuilt, you know that there were holes in the floor and . . . the toilets for employees [providing] customer assistance rarely worked," Kruesi said. "It was, like the rest of the line, in serious need of either being rehabilitated or closing."

Part of the new platform is hardwood, a tribute to the historic significance of the previous station.

"I've never seen a station that looked that good," said Ald. Michael Chandler (24th).

While trains pull into the stop on a 22-hour daily schedule, Chandler said he's "going to be pushing very hard to make sure weekend service is returned" after work on the entire route is completed early next year.

The station now has a central platform, as opposed to the two platforms at the old station, making it easier for riders to adjust if they enter on the wrong side, said Phillip Criswell, an 18-year-old political science major on his way to classes at DePaul University.

Criswell said the old station was "kind of an eyesore. It didn't have an escalator and parts of the platform felt like it would sink in."

The $482.6 million reconstruction of the Cermak-Douglas Branch of the Blue Line involves eight stations. Kedzie is the fifth to reopen. The remaining three should be finished within 10 months.


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