A new report being compiled by the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Chicago Central Area Committee seeks to resurrect a long sought-after, never-built downtown infrastructure project, according to DNAinfo. The Loop Connector, an east-west downtown train line that would connect Union Station and Ogilvie with Navy Pier and the Museum Campus, was first proposed in the '70s. But with a downtown building boom and no simple way to ferry suburban workers taking Amtrak around the Loop, the plan is as relevant as its ever been, according to supporters.
As the CTA faces a potential new era of austerity, if Governor Bruce Rauner's budget proposals pass, and many areas of the city still remain relatively unconnected to transit, is a costly project in the Loop the best way to spend what may increasingly become a limited pool of funds?
The Connector last came up as part of the 2009 Central Area Action Plan, but the recession and failed Olympic bid doomed its chances. Now may be the time. The downtown population has tripled over the last 15 years, a study cited in the article says more people reach the Loop everyday via Metra than the L (many of whom then need to make the east-west trip), and some big names are lining up to support the research project looking into the plan, such as the Merchandise Mart, developer Fifield Cos., law firm Bryan Cave LLP and the federal government, which gave $50,000 to help fund the study.
The group plans on releasing results in six months, at which time hopefully there will be a comprehensive estimate on the cost of the Connector.