CHICAGO (CBS) — The CTA opened a new ‘L’ station in the Loop on Thursday, just in time for the morning rush.
The new Washington/Wabash station has been under construction since 2015.
The $75 million facility has a glass and steel skeleton to create a play of light resembling diamond facets. That’s what the city was hoping for, since it is located on Jewelers’ Row.
“The new CTA station at Washington and Wabash represents the best of Chicago’s heritage of architectural innovation while creating modern amenities for the thousands of travelers who utilize it every day,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement.
The new station replaces two other stops on the Loop – the Madison/Wabash station, which was closed and removed in 2015; and the Randolph/Wabash station, which will remain open through Sunday.
Washington/Wabash is the first station on the east leg of the Loop to be fully accessible to people with disabilities.
The grand opening of the station is good news for jewelers and other businesses on Wabash who said they’ve suffered for the past two years of construction.
While businesses on Wabash between Washington and Monroe remained open while the new station was under construction, the street was closed to traffic for much of the project.
The street reopened to traffic in March, but parking remained blocked by scaffolding through late last month.
Wedding Bands & Co. CEO Koorosh Daneshgar said walk-in traffic at his jewelry store dropped about 25 percent during construction of the station. Other jewelers said their walk-in traffic went down as much as 50 percent.
Some jewelers couldn’t afford the hit and shut down. Valet parking companies took a big hit, as well as their employees.
“On a busy day we make $100, on a slow day $20,” said parking attendant Rakim Clay.
Prudential Gems manager Tony Souri said he hopes the new station attracts more customers.
“It brings lot of people downtown. They look once, they look twice, they buy the third time,” Souri said.
Emanuel will formally open the station at 11 a.m., but commuters began using the station before dawn.