The booming Fulton Market area may be getting something new to go along with its fast-growing number of corporate headquarters and other business outposts: its own Metra station.
Metra and city officials have scheduled a virtual meeting for mid-October to talk about opening a new station that would be available to the 80,000 riders a day who commute on Metra’s west, northwest and southwest lines.
A rising number of those people work for companies such as McDonald’s, Google, Tock, Havi Group and Kimberly-Clark, all of which have located or made plans to locate in the Fulton-Kinzie Corridor. If they commute, they now have to take the train to either Union Station or Ogilvie Transportation Center “and then double back,” says a spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation. A new station would be a lot more convenient, he added.
Exactly where the new station would go is not yet clear, but it probably would be around Ashland Avenue, potentially a little bit to the east or west, I’m told.
The station being proposed by the city is part of a much larger project pushed by Metra to build a bridge or flyover at roughly Western Avenue allowing some trains on some lines to pass over other lines, avoiding at-grade congestion.
“This is the busiest junction in our system, by far,” says a spokesman for Metra. “It’s a major choke point.”
That project will cost “probably $1 billion or more” and likely is “years away,” the spokesman added. But the meeting is intended to get the process going.
The spokesman agreed any actual station opening could be a decade away as officials finalize decisions, design the project and seek federal funds. But it’s not yet clear whether the station project could be separated from the rail work and proceed more quickly, he said.
“This analysis is evaluating potential station locations within the area, preparing multimodal access strategies and urban design recommendations for the feasible station location, and outlining a coordinated implementation strategy and timeline,” the city said in a statement.
The virtual meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Oct. 12. You can register to attend by clicking on this link.
The session is being sponsored by CDOT, the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, the local alderman, Walter Burnett, 27th, and Metra.