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Chicago Union Station Master Plan Alternatives to be Presented at Public Meeting December 15, 2011

(December 14, 2011) - 
The Chicago Union Station Master Plan study has been in progress for about a year. A Public Meeting to discuss possible improvements analyzed as part of the study will be held on Thursday, December 15, 2011, 4:00 – 7:00pm in Union Station’s Union Gallery room, just off the Great Hall.  The meeting will be an open house, with charts explaining possible improvements to increase capacity for handling trains, people, and traffic on nearby streets.   Narrated presentations will be made at 4:30pm and 6:00pm.  The study has been a collaborative effort led by the City of Chicago’s Department of Transportation with extensive participation from Metra, the station’s most active user, and Amtrak, the station’s owner, as well as other stakeholders.  Staff from these agencies will also be present. The public is encouraged to attend the open house Public Meeting and share input.
Union Station now often operates close to capacity. Continuing growth in both commuter rail service and Amtrak intercity passenger rail service, combined with the potential for future growth in high-speed intercity passenger rail, has compelled the City and affected railroads to evaluate future options for accommodating further growth in station traffic. The Master Plan Study has identified potential alternatives for adding tracks and platforms, as well as possible opportunities for improving passenger flows. Renderings have been developed and costs have been estimated for the various proposals. Short, medium, and long term opportunities have been identified, ranging from re-using platforms originally designed for handling mail to the construction of new multilevel subways.
Chicago’s Union Station is the third-busiest railroad terminal in the United States, serving over 120,000 arriving and departing passengers carried on over 300 trains per weekday. Most of these are Metra commuter trains.  The Station is also the hub of Amtrak’s network of regional trains serving the Midwest as well as most of the nation’s overnight trains, which connect to the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific coasts. Today’s Station originally opened in 1925, and the Concourse building, located east of Canal Street, was demolished in 1968 and replaced by the 222 S. Riverside Plaza office building. Most passenger station activities today take place in the basement of this building. Soon after Amtrak was established in 1971 it concentrated intercity passenger train operations in Chicagofrom four other stations at Union Station. Amtrak gained ownership of Union Station in 1984 and conducted a major re-modeling between 1987 and 1992.
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