Mayor Emanuel and CTA President Dorval Carter, Jr. announced on Monday that the Belmont Blue Line stop is getting a $15 million upgrade.
As a part of the city’s Your New Blue program, the station will be transformed into a new Belmont Gateway, seeking to “create an efficient, attractive environment for…customers while also incorporating modern, innovative designs.”
The station was designed by award-winning local architect Carol Ross Barney, famed for her work on the 606, the Chicago Riverwalk and the new Oklahoma City Federal Building.
While the station’s soaring white canopy is sure to put Avondale on the map architecturally, the redesign isn’t limited to aesthetic enhancements. When complete, the new Belmont Gateway will introduce several significant transit improvements including a restructured bus arrival area, expanded pedestrian space and prepaid bus boarding.
Located just blocks from I-90, the area surrounding the Belmont station has long been dominated by car traffic. As the Blue Line experiences a transit oriented development boom, the need to invest in creating walkable communities has never been greater.
We’re happy to see the city take these important steps to create a safer and more comfortable space for people walking and riding CTA.
One of the most exciting aspects of the project is that it makes prepaid bus boarding permanent at the station. The agency launched a prepaid boarding pilot at Belmont earlier this year and it's proven to speed up travel times for all the people transferring to buses once they hop off the train.
With the success at Belmont, we're pushing for CTA to implement prepaid boarding on other busy routes. Riders pay while waiting for the bus to arrive and then board using all of the bus’s available doors. Prepaid boarding has been shown to make bus transportation quicker and more reliable, and to reduce frustrating “bus bunching.”
There's already another boarding pilot currently underway at West Madison Street and North Dearborn Street on the Loop Link corridor.
It's disappointing this upgrade doesn't include adding an elevator to make the station ADA accessible. CTA has committed to making all of its stations ADA-accessible within 20 years and has included ADA improvements in many recent projects like those underway on the Red and Purple Lines on the North Side.
The agency is currently developing a plan to fund similar upgrades at Belmont and all of its other stations that lack ADA accessibility, and we'll continue to make it an advocacy priority with partners working on disability rights.
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This post was authored by Advocacy Intern Justin Dodd.