CTA Blue Line Visioning

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Program: Initial Planning for Line Rebuilding
Status: Visioning Complete, 2014

More than fifty years after its initial construction, the Chicago Transit Authority is studying how to improve the Forest Park branch of the Blue Line.  Most stations are located in or next to the Eisenhower Expressway.  The Illinois Department of Transportation is studying potential changes to the highway and the CTA has taken advantage of this opportunity to coordinate improvements of its own.

The purpose of the study is to develop station designs and neighborhood connections to them.  The study’s vision for the branch is that it will be easy for customers to use and for staff to operate.  It will be integrated into the neighborhoods through which it passes, seamlessly connected to transit, pedestrian, and bicycling networks.  It will support existing, and spur new, commercial and institutional life at each station.

One of the challenges of a transit system located within a limited access highway is how to connect stations to the neighborhoods they serve. Modest deck widening, plus added landscaping and canopies protect and invite existing and new transit users.

When the Eisenhower Expressway was built, it cut through existing commercial districts. A deck could serve to stitch the urban fabric together, providing public gathering space. Precast concrete and glazed canopies protect transit riders from wind, rain, and the noise of the adjacent highway.