Tag Archives: Union Station

Bridge construction to close sidewalks along Union Station

(CHICAGO) Reconstruction work on the Adams Street Bridge over the Chicago River in the Loop will close sidewalks near Union Station.

Pedestrians will not be allowed to use Adams Street along Union Station for 60 days, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation. However, a mid-block crossing will be available. Pedestrians should go north to Monroe Street or south to Jackson Street if they need to walk west from Wacker Drive. The bridge was closed in January for reconstruction work.

The Adams Street entrance to Union Station will remain open during construction, CDOT said. The sidewalks are expected to re-open by Dec. 10. The entire project is expected to be completed by January.

Suit: City owes Amtrak, Union Station more than $500,000 for viaduct repairs

(CHICAGO) The City of Chicago welshed on its obligation to maintain the Canal Street Viaduct near Union Station, costing the commuting hub and Amtrak more than $500,000 to inspect the area and remove broken concrete, a new lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court by the parent companies of Amtrak and Union Station and alleges that the city assumed responsibility for maintaining the viaduct in 1980.

“The City has failed to properly maintain the Canal Street Viaduct, leading to spalling concrete on its undersurfaces,” the suit stated.

Union Station was responsible for the upkeep from 1914 until 1980 when train station and city entered into a new agreement that shifted responsibility to the city, the suit stated.

Though the suit states the city’s failure to maintain the viaduct has been “ongoing” since 1980, Amtrak and Union Station only began paying for inspections and repairs in June 2013, according to the suit.

In the nearly two years since, Amtrak and Union Station have spent more than $514,000 on upkeep, repairs and inspections, the suit stated.

The broken concrete has “the potential to put at risk the safety and health of the workers and general public using the station areas underneath the viaduct,” the suit alleged.

A spokesman for the city’s Law Department did not respond to a request for comment Monday afternoon.

The three-count suit alleges breach of contract and negligence and seeks to recoup the $514,000 spent by Amtrak and Union Station.

Lane closures start Friday for new Union Station Transit Center

(CHICAGO) Lane closures start Friday on Canal Street and Jackson Boulevard downtown as work begins on Union Station’s new CTA bus facility.

When it opens in spring 2016, the Union Station Transit Center will be a new off-street facility on Jackson between Canal and Clinton, with sheltered staging areas for CTA buses, according to a statement from the Chicago Dept. of Transportation.

Riders will also be able to use the transit center to connect to Loop Link, downtown’s bus rapid transit project currently under construction.

The transit center will also have an elevator to an existing Amtrak pedway underground, allowing pedestrians to transfer to Union Station while protected from the weather, CDOT said.

Crews working on the project will start closing lanes this Friday before the morning rush, transit officials said.

Eastbound Jackson between Clinton and Canal will be temporarily reduced to only two through lanes with no parking lanes, CDOT said. The right turn from Jackson onto southbound Canal will be permanently eliminated.

Northbound traffic on Canal from Van Buren to Jackson will also be temporarily reduced to two lanes, CDOT said.

A CTA bus stop on Jackson west of Canal will be relocated across the intersection to the east side of Canal, and another bus stop on Canal south of Jackson will be eliminated.

Access to the Union Station Parking Garage will no longer be available from Jackson, but drivers can get in via Canal and Clinton, CDOT said.

Travelers should allow extra time getting to and from Union Station during construction.

$12 million in fixes for Union Station; another step in major renovation

(CHICAGO) Amtrak will announce Thursday a $12 million renovation project at Union Station that will include rehab of the marble stairway made famous in the movie “The Untouchables” as well as plans to commission a redesign of the often-congested concourse area where commuters board and de-board trains, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

Improvements will also be made to the station’s facade and updates will be made to the sprinkler and temperature control systems.

More than 120,000 people make their way through the 90-year-old station every day, said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.

The improvements are part of a multi-billion dollar master plan that is a collaboration by Amtrak, Metra and the Illinois and City Departments of Transportation.

“Amtrak and Metra ridership has grown significantly since the 1991 reconfiguration of the concourse level,” Magliari said. “We’ve outgrown that design.”

New doors will be added to help control the building’s heat and prevent bursting pipes, which occurred twice this month to the sprinkler system.

Amtrak is seeking permission from the city’s landmark commission to rehab the iconic steps leading from the Great Hall to Canal Street that were famously used by actors Kevin Costner and Andy Garcia to stage a Prohibition-era shootout in the movie “The Untouchables.”

“We’re going to maintain the look of the steps,” Magliari said. “But you can definitely see where all those feet have fallen over 90 years.”

Visitors take pictures on the steps daily, Magliari said.

“We want to make sure we do everything we can maintain the integrity of the building as the landlord and owner,” Magliari said.

The cramped, overcrowded concourses at the station prompted Metra officials late last year to unveil plans to better handle the crush of commuters that can occur during service disruptions.

That included posting maps and distributing fliers to explain those contingency plans to riders.

More details will be announced Thursday, according to a news release issued by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office. That news release also noted that Emanuel “is actively working with Amtrak, the state and Metra to secure the additional funds necessary to support this modernization. Bringing Union Station into the 21st century will bring economic opportunities to residents throughout the City.”

Amtrak has been pondering major work on the station for some time.

In September, officials had outlined plans to improve the station by widening commuter platforms, providing CTA buses off-street parking and potentially using old underground tunnels to open up space that could eventually lead to direct-to-airport rail routes.

The Metropolitan Planning Council had invited people to submit other ideas, and the winners included reinventing the Great Hall by putting down artificial turf and installing a hammock, space for tetherball and an area for yoga and aerobics classes.

Another idea floated at that time was to use the Canal Street viaduct area for a steakhouse, and to open shops and restaurants in the station so people would want to stroll around or have business lunches there, said Kara Riggio, a planning council associate.

At that September briefing, Jeffrey Sriver, director of transportation planning and programming for the Chicago Department of Transportation, outlined several plans:

Installing enhanced bus lanes and larger bus stations starting up Canal Street and going east on Washington, then west on Madison and south on Clinton. The new bus lanes and bicycle lanes would take up two of the four lanes that now exist on Washington and Madison streets. The project would be part of what is called the “Central Area Bus Rapid Transit” system, providing faster bus travel to the Loop and Millennium Park; construction on the $32 million project is expected to start this year.

Creating a surface parking lot just south of the station for CTA buses — the city is now in the process of buying the property — to give more space to cars, cabs and pedestrians. That project also would include a canopied exit and an underground pathway directly into Union Station, so bus riders wouldn’t have to cross Jackson Boulevard or go outdoors. The bus terminal is part of the $32 million Central Area Bus Rapid Transit project.

Widening commuter platforms to 22 feet wide from their current 12 feet, and “squeezing in a few” more stairways and an escalator and elevator straight up to Jackson or Van Buren exits and entrances. No date is set for this project, but it is estimated to cost $50 million to $100 million, according to the Metropolitan Planning Council’s master plan.

Using what Sriver described as “a hidden trove of space” — unused former mail service areas located South and East of passenger tracks alongside the Chicago River — as a new underground passageway that would open into a giant basement underneath the train platforms. No date has been set for the project. Its estimated cost is $50 million to $100 million, the master plan shows.

Besides the fact that Union Station is overcrowded, a state transportation official described how new high-speed-rail service will bring even more traffic into the site.

Joe Shacter, director of public and intermodal transportation for the Illinois Department of Transportation, said also said last year that IDOT was working with the city, Metra, Amtrak and others to expand passenger waiting areas so people can sit down while waiting for trains, and to improve Union Station’s design so the trains run on schedule and riders can find their trains more easily.


© Copyright 2015 Sun-Times Media, LLC

Broken water main, leak affecting Metra lines at Union Station

                                                                                                   photo credit Tom Arra

(Chicago)  A water main break causing a leak in the South Concourse at Union Station affected some Metra commuters Friday afternoon.

A sprinker pipe burst about 12:30 p.m. and sent water onto part of the South Concourse, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said. It took crews about 30 minutes to clean up the mess.

Metra and Amtrak officials were helping commuters heading to nearby platforms for the BNSF, Southwest Service and Heritage Corridor lines, Metra said in a service alert on its website.

This is the second pipe break to affect the South Concourse this week.

On Tuesday, the extremely low temperatures caused a sprinkler pipe to break, spilling dark-colored water on the floor near some platforms.

That incident had no impact on trains, but has promoted transit officials to modify pedestrian pathways at the station to lessen the amount of cold air coming into the station.

Starting immediately, the corridor connecting the North and South Concourses will be closed between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., Amtrak said Friday. That means people walking to the ticket offices for Amtrak, Metra and Greyhound or to and from Canal Street will be redirected.

The use of automatic doors and escalators between the east side of Canal Street and the concourse will also be limited in off-peak hours, Amtrak said.

Riders will not see any changes to the entrances at the Chicago River, and to and from Adams Street and Jackson Boulevard, the statement said.

The changes will stay in place through the end of February.

© Copyright 2015 Sun-Times Media, LLC