New CTA Stations Boost Economy
For sixty years the 1.5-mile stretch on Lake St. between Ashland and Clinton has been a public transit dead zone. Buses ran only on surrounding streets and the original station at Morgan was demolished in 1948. This transit isolation was frustrating to local residents who could not efficiently access this portion of the West Loop, and development suffered as a result. Affordable real estate eventually attracted new businesses, restaurants, and residential developers, but lack of easy transit access still prevented this district from reaching its full economic potential.
In 2002, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) investigated the feasibility of constructing a new infill station to boost train ridership and encourage economic growth along the Lake and South Side branches of the Green Line. Morgan Station, with its recent influx of residential and commercial development, was chosen as the optimal station location. The 2006 construction of the Pink Line, which will also be serviced by the new station, was also a consideration in the final decision.
The opening of Morgan Station is evidence of Chicago’s ongoing commitment to using transit-oriented development (TOD) to boost the local economy. Just last month, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) cut the ribbon at the much-needed Yellow Line Oakton Street Station in Skokie. In CNT’s report, Prospering in Place (PIP), Skokie is identified as one the 15 largest employment centers in metropolitan Chicago; prior the opening of the Oakton stop, however, many of Skokie’s 11,423 workers could not access their jobs via public transportation. Employees at the Illinois Science and Technology Park, which opened as a science and research facility in 2005, had to take a shuttle from the Dempster Street CTA station to the Park as part of their daily public transit commute. Now, these same employees exit at the Oakton Station, conveniently located almost across the street from the Park. Reducing travel time to this major employment center will attract more employees to this northern suburb, encourage development, and increase land values, all of which will contribute to the region’s prosperity.
The Cermak Road Green Line Station, planned to open in July 2014, promises to be equally beneficial. The new station will close a two-mile gap between Roosevelt Road and 35th/Bronzeville Stations on the Green Line, and will bring Chicagoans directly to the underutilized neighborhoods of the Near South and Motor Row and within easy walking distance of McCormick Place. Motor Row was designated as an entertainment district in 2011, and a commercial center that will include theaters, restaurants and hotels is already in the drafting stages. By coordinating development with transit infrastructure, the city will provide the area with a solid foundation for increased growth.
These stations – Morgan, Oakton, and Cermak – are important steps in the creation of a regional TOD network, with increased employment, public transit, and community connection. I hope to see more such projects implemented in Chicago and its surrounding suburbs, as officials prepare for the region’s sustainable future.