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Petition Calls For Restoring CTA Green Line Service All The Way East To Jackson Park

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jul 12, 2017 8:15PM

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When the Obama Presidential Library and Center ultimately arrives in Jackson Park, so too will a huge new wave of foot traffic, and an increased demand for transit. The side irony—especially for residents of the area—is that the Green Line not all that long ago stretched all the way to Jackson Park, seemingly providing the very transportation infrastructure that would be so helpful. Now, an online campaign is calling to restore that old eastern stretch of the Green Line along 63rd Street.

The existing CTA and Metra infrastructure won't cut it in terms of meeting the demand, argues Reuben Lillie, who launched the petition. "There is insufficient access to Jackson Park," the petition reads. "While we welcome the Obama Presidential Center and some companion projects for renovating Jackson Park itself, by themselves these plans are too small. Without restoring the ‘L’ we have no viable infrastructure for welcoming people to the Jackson Park vicinity."

There needs to be additional east-west transit options, plus routes that can more easily traffic travelers from roughly nearby areas like the University of Chicago, according to the petition, which had gathered more than 275 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon. (Chicagoist has reached out to the CTA for comment and will update as necessary.)

Restoration proponents urge the creation of a joint planning committee, "comprised of an equal number of elected or appointed government officials and specially elected or appointed local representatives from Hyde Park, South Shore, Washington Park, and Woodlawn plus one representative each on behalf of the Obama Foundation and the University of Chicago."

Funding would no doubt pose a challenge—a reality that petitioners seem aware of:

"In lieu of tax dollars, as much of the needed funding as possible come from other sources including but not limited to the Obama Foundation and other public-private partnerships."

Among other requests, the petition urges the old University and Dorchester stops to be rebuilt, which once were once slotted between the also-shuttered Stony Island station (at Stony Island Avenue and 63rd Street, at Jackson Park) and Cottage Grove—which now the most southeasterly stop on the Green Line, a full mile from Jackson Park's western edge. (Check out the 1978 Chicago cult-classic film Stony Island for some time-capsule footage of the old titular station.)

The now-gone extension to Jackson Park was opened in 1893 to support the World's Columbian Exposition Fair Grounds; and the Stony Island station was in operation as late as 1982. Dorchester was shuttered in 1973, and University was closed in 1994. The remaining branch east of Cottage Grove was torn down nearly 20 years ago, in the fall of 1997.

Thanks to reader Michael Medina for the tip.

Update, Thursday, July 13:
Irene D. Ferradaz, a CTA public affairs representative told Chicagoist:

"The CTA is focused on rebuilding and modernizing the existing ‘L’ system, and on pursuing the extension of the Red Line South to 130th Street. While there are no current plans to extend the Cottage Grove branch of the Green Line, CTA always looks for opportunities to improve the system to meet ridership demand."