CHICAGO (CBS) — Construction has been completed on a facelift of the Belmont station on the Blue Line in Avondale, featuring a new glass and steel gateway canopy covering the subway entrance and bus stop.
The $17 million project began last May, as part of a $492 million modernization project along the O’Hare branch of the Blue Line, dubbed “Your New Blue.”
The steel and blue glass canopy was designed by Chicago-based Ross Barney Architects, who also designed the new flagship McDonald’s restaurant in River North, which replaced the iconic Rock & Roll McDonald’s; the Cermak-McCormick Place station on the CTA Green Line; the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Chicago Riverwalk; and a new visitors center under construction at Lincoln Park Zoo.
Other station improvements include new LED lighting, additional overhead heaters, repaved surface, and new signs for the bus terminal; a permanent prepaid boarding area; new bus and train tracker signs; an upgraded public address system; new concrete platform decking; and new LED lighting and repainted surfaces throughout the rail station.
Architect Carol Ross Barney said when she was hired to design the new station, she thought back to the old Olson Park and Waterfall, a park built by the owner of the Olson Rug factory during the Great Depression, which became a very popular neighborhood attraction in Avondale before it closed in the 1970s.
“For my five-year-old eyes, the idea of a waterfall flowing through the streets of Chicago was so extraordinary. So we wanted to create something that would be at least a memory of that, something almost a thought as exciting,” she said. “So when we were working on this, we thought about it as a big blue waterfall; and I hope that children, riders, people of Chicago will appreciate it as much as I appreciate landmarks in the city.”
CTA President Dorval Carter said the new facility also is designed to provide faster boarding times and a more comfortable commute for riders who use the Belmont station.
“For our neighbors, we’ve also enhanced and improved the surrounding landscape that will ensure the CTA is a good neighbor, and will further enhance the space for the surrounding community,” he said.
Before the renovation project, the Belmont subway station had seen only minor upgrades since it was built about 50 years ago.
The Your New Blue project includes renovations to 14 Blue Line stations, and track improvements on the O’Hare branch. The upgrades are expected to shave about 10 minutes off the commute time from the Loop to O’Hare International Airport.