|New CTA Yellow Line station opens in Skokie (1153976)|
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New CTA Yellow Line station opens in Skokie
Posted by DAND124 on Mon Apr 30 18:53:49 2012http://triblocal.com/skokie/2012/04/30/new-l-stop-opens-in-skokie/
The morning commute from the Skokie home of Olivia Coss to her job on Michigan Avenue in Chicago got a lot easier on Monday with the opening of Skokie’s $20 million Oakton Avenue CTA station .
Coss was among the handful of commuters who jumped on the “L” at the new stop early Monday morning.
She used to walk to the Dempster Street “Skokie Swift” CTA station, almost a mile away, in order to get to downtown Chicago.
“This is awesome because now I don’t have to walk all the way to the Skokie swift if I want to go to work or if I want to go to Starbucks,” she said.
The new CTA station, on a village-owned vacant lot at the northwest corner of Searle Parkway and Skokie Boulevard, is intended to give Skokie’s downtown an economic shot in the arm, village officials said.
They also said the new stop will make it easier for people to get to the nearby 23-acre Illinois Science + Technology Park, which is billed as a catalyst to transform Illinois from a scientific research hub to an economic engine for bioscience technologies.
There were only a handful of commuters getting on and off at the Oakton Street CTA stop on Monday morning, but CTA and village staff hope that as many as 900 commuters a day eventually start using the stop.
Cary Morgan, a retired CTA general manager, grew up in Skokie and he said he got up early Monday so he could catch the first north bound train which left the Howard Street CTA stop at 4:52 a.m., headed for the new Oakton Street station.
“I wanted to be among the first to celebrate this really historic event,” he said. “There’s a lot of personal pride here.”
“The village is certainly trying to develop the downtown Skokie area,” he added. “This could be a very exciting anchor for the village. At some point if the funding is ever available to extend the yellow line further north to Old Orchard shopping mall it would be a tremendous asset for the village.”
The new station is on the same spot where a train station once operated from the late 1920s to late 1940s, said village staff. They said that stop was closed and later torn down and the “Skokie Swift” station on Dempster Street was opened.
In 2001, the village did a feasibility study for possible station locations along the Yellow Line and determined that a downtown Skokie station was needed and viable. Village officials lobbied for federal funds needed to carry out the project, and in subsequent years the village got roughly $14 million in Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant funds to build the Oakton Street station. The village committed about $6 million through tax increment financing district funds toward the project, and construction began in mid-2010.
U.S Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Evanston, and other officials were at the station early Monday to greet commuters. Village staff said there will be a official opening ceremony at the new station on June 24 between 2 and 4 p.m.
“It will be a community celebration,” said Ann Tennes, director of marketing and communications with the village. “It’s going to be a fun, free family friendly event that will include a formal dedication with city and federal officials.”
Mary Rafig, another commuter, was all smiles as she waited at the new CTA stop to catch a train to work in Chicago. She said she lives a few minutes away from the new stop, and said that until now she had to walk or drive to the Skokie Swift stop to get the train.
“I like the design of the station,” she said. “Skokie is usually very good about codes and everything else, so it should be fine. The only thing that I wish would have been here is parking. But that I can live without. In the winter I may go to the other station. Otherwise I’m going to be over here.”