The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) recently released the Chicago Union Station Master Plan Study, which identifies opportunities to increase the station’s capacity and improve the quality of service.
The study was developed in partnership with station owner Amtrak, primary tenant Metra and other organizations, such as the Metropolitan Planning Council, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Regional Transportation Authority, Illinois Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration and Chicago Department of Housing and Economic Development.
The study identifies short-, medium- and long-term opportunities to help accommodate continued passenger-rail growth at the station. During the next few years, funding has been committed or plans are being implemented for several projects, including enhancements to entrances, expansion of Amtrak waiting rooms, improvements to bus lanes on Clinton and Canal streets, and the creation of an off-street CTA bus terminal on Jackson Blvd.
During the next five to 10 years, improvements could include: reallocating the space currently occupied by some baggage platforms so platforms can be widened; converting unused mail platforms for use by intercity passenger trains; reorganizing existing passenger station facilities to improve capacity and flow; and rebuilding the Canal Street viaduct above parts of the station in a manner that improves street access to the station concourse below.
Long-term ideas include significantly expanding or completely replacing existing intercity and/or commuter station facilities in the 200 or 300 blocks of South Canal Street. The study also includes a proposal to add track and platform capacity along underground alignments beneath Clinton or Canal streets.
Later this year, CDOT and the other parties plan to launch a simulation of train, station and nearby street operations to help quantify the capacity impacts of the medium-term ideas and determine how much growth the improvements could accommodate. The simulation also will provide an estimate as to when the long-term ideas would need to be implemented.
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