NEAR WEST SIDE — When city officials ceremonially broke ground on the Green Line Damen stop in 2019, the new station was expected to open within two years.
But two years later, construction on the site hasn’t started. Now, after delays, local leaders say the project is back on track.
Prep work for the station, which included utility relocations and underground work to reinforce column foundations, has been completed, said Michael Claffey, spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation. The city began accepting requests for proposals from construction contractors March 10.
“If the bidding process stays on track, we anticipate issuing a notice to proceed in the next 60 to 90 days,” Claffey said.
The station could break ground again later this summer and will take up to 24 months to complete.
Asked about the delay, a city official said advertising for bids took longer than initially anticipated. The pandemic affected the pace of the project, as well.
Streetsblog first reported on the delay.
The station has been delayed for several years now.
The station was first announced in 2017. Under original plans, the city unveiled renderings of the station in 2018 with plans to open for service in 2020.
In May 2019, then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th), officials from the Chicago Transit Authority and the Chicago Department of Transportation gathered for the ceremonial groundbreaking for the station on Damen Avenue and Lake Street. Back then, officials said the station would open in 2021.
“We’ve seen the kind of impact a new CTA station can have at Morgan Street,” Burnett said during the ceremony. “By investing in this community’s transportation options, we are creating a brighter future for everyone who lives and does business here.”
The Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago and West Side leaders have pushed for a Damen stop for 15 years. It would fill a 1.5-mile gap between the California and Ashland stations.
Ahead of the 2019 groundbreaking, Burnett said the new station would right a historic wrong.
He believed a station had not been previously built between California and Ashland because the city did not want to construct new “L” stops near public housing sites — in this case, near the now-demolished Henry Horner Homes.
“I think they were trying to avoid public housing being able to disrupt folks on the train. I see it as discrimination,” Burnett previously said.
Burnett would not comment about the delay but has continued to back the project in spite of the repeated hiccups.
“I think it’s exciting…That stop is important because they took away all the stops around public housing. It’s a social justice issue to get those stops back,” Burnett said.
Echoing his words from nearly two years ago, Burnett said the stop would “right a wrong.”
The new station will serve businesses along the Kinzie Industrial Corridor, United Center crowds and nearby residents, including tenants of the Chicago Housing Authority’s Villages of Westhaven complex, which replaced the Henry Horner Homes.
The design for the sleek, new $60 million station, by Perkins + Will, includes a glass pedestrian bridge and larger train platforms, aimed at accommodating big crowds visiting the United Center. State funds and Kinzie Industrial Corridor tax-increment financing (TIF) dollars will pay for the new station.
Designated in 1998, the Kinzie Industrial Corridor TIF district, which spans portions of Humboldt Park, West Town, East Garfield Park and the Near West Side, is set to expire in 2022. City transportation leaders did not respond to questions regarding the expiration of the TIF district and how that could affect funding for the work.
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.