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Illinois Medical District Blue Line station gets $23M renovation

This conceptual rendering shows what the main Ogden entrance to the Blue Line's Illinois Medical District station could look like under a $23 million project that begins next month. | CTA rendering

The largest renovation to the Blue Line’s Illinois Medical District station in more than 50 years will begin next month, including improvements to all three entrances, CTA officials said Wednesday.

About $23 million in work will include upgrades to the station’s Paulina entrance, which has been closed since a July 24 lightning storm severely damaged a canopy over a pedestrian ramp connecting the entrance to the station platform.

The Paulina entrance is expected to open by the end of this month, before other major work begins, officials said.

The station’s Paulina and Damen Avenue entrances are due for station-to-platform ramp improvements, new flooring, new fare-payment equipment and customer assistance kiosks.

The main station house and entrance on Ogden Avenue will have a complete reconstruction, including the installation of an elevator.

The CTA announced the kickoff of the project Wednesday, after the CTA board approved a contract with McHugh/Ujamaa Joint Venture for $14.2 million in construction work.

Other planned improvements to the Illinois Medical District station include new lighting, new security cameras, new CTA Bus and Train Tracker displays and upgrades to the station platform canopy.

“It’s a pretty big deal because we have not done any improvements to this station in a while and it’s the third-busiest station on the [Blue Line’s] Forest Park branch,’’ CTA spokesman Brian Steele said.

The station’s Damen entrance was renovated in 1998, but the latest work will be the most since the station opened in 1958, while Dwight Eisenhower was president, CTA officials said.

The station provides connections to four major hospital systems: Rush University Medical Center, the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System, John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital and the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center. It also serves Malcolm X College and the United Center.

Work that begins next month should not produce any immediate customer impacts, CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase said. The station will remain open throughout construction, but there will be occasional entrance closures, she said.

The project is being funded with tax-increment financing funds and should be completed in late 2017.

Also Wednesday:

• Members of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization told board members that about 350 people have signed petitions seeking reinstatement of the No. 1 Indiana/Hyde Park bus, which once ran from 64th Street and Stony Island through the Washington Park neighborhood to Union Station. “We will take a look at that concern,’’ CTA President Dorval Carter Jr. told reporters later.

Citizens used the route to get to churches, senior homes and schools before it was cutback in 2003 and again in 2012, advocates said.

Their pleas followed recent successful campaigns by supporters of the No. 11 Lincoln and the 31st St. buses to initiate pilots of those routes. Some supporters have since charged that the limited hours and routes of the pilots could sabotage their survival.

• Carter said he was “optimistic” the City Council will approve plans for a transit tax-increment financing district that will allow the CTA to access $1 billion in federal funds for renovation of the Red and Purple Lines on the North Side from Lawrence to Bryn Mawr.

“There’s no reason for us to ever leave that kind of money on the table,” Carter said.

He said he did not expect the overwhelming 44th Ward rejection of a November 2014 referendum on the most controversial element of the plan — a flyover at Belmont Avenue — to deter the City Council. He said “there’s also been a huge amount of support” for the bypass, which would separate Brown Line tracks from Red and Purple lines at Belmont.

• CTA board members unanimously re-elected Terry Peterson as their chairman. “He is one of the most able chairmen I have ever come across,’’ CTA vice chair Ashish Sen said in bringing the motion for Peterson’s reappointment to a post Peterson has held since October of 2009.