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New “L” on the Block

The $10 million rehabilitation project for the Harrison Red Line stop is on track and rolling smoothly, a Chicago transit official said.

On Monday, the Harrison Street entrance was closed, signaling the beginning of the next phase of redevelopment for the station.
The Polk entrance has been open since May 26. The 70-year-old station is frequented by 1.4 million people each year, according to the Chicago Transit Authority. When the rush of people exits the train onto the Polk platform, many can already see the new renovations underway.

“This has always been a really dingy station,” Steven Barns said. “When this opened up it made a huge difference.” Barns, a 45 year-old South Loop resident, has been going to the Harrison station for 10 years.

Jessica Miller, a Columbia College student, said she likes to ride the Red Line because it’s faster. Now she has to walk farther to get to the only station entrance that is open. But she said she’s dealing. “It’s fine,” she said.

CTA spokeswoman Catherine Hosinski said the changes benefit travelers, as it will help them along their trips.

“The rehab focuses on deep structural repair and cosmetics of the station,” Hosinski said. “It’s absolutely worth it, it’s a 70 year-old station that has only received patchwork repairs over the years.”

The renovations feature brand-new granite flooring, new ceramic tile and pattern designs, and water mitigation to reduce pooling, and new high-definition surveillance cameras and train tracker digital displays.

New stations not only affect the CTA riders but the neighborhood and residents as well. Jones College Prep high school and Columbia College border the station on the east and west sides.

In January of 2008, the schools collaborated in adopting the station through the CTA’s Adopt-A-Station Program. As part of the adoption, students from both schools were chosen from a contest to decorate the mezzanine and platform columns with vinyl Haiku’s and colorful artwork.

The project cost $25,000, which was paid for by Columbia and only took two days to install. Whether the haikus will stay after renovation is unknown, residents will find out nearing the deadline, scheduled July 28.

Cameron Kelly contributed to this story.

Harrison CTA Red Line Station Rehab Begins Second Phase June 16 (video)

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