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"Underline" Pedestrian Connection Proposed for Space Below Wilson 'L' Stop

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Current CTA plans call for a parking lot under the tracks

While work continues on the CTA’s $ 203 million renovation of Uptown’s Wilson ‘L’ stop, local community groups are pushing for a ground-level makeover to the area below the tracks between Wilson and Sunnyside. Dubbed the Wilson "Underline" project, the initiative presents an alternative to the CTA’s current plan to return the space to its previous use as a fenced-off parking lot after work is completed in 2017. Instead, their plan calls for a pedestrian corridor of connected green spaces, seating areas, and art to not only bring a new public amenity to the area, but also boost neighborhood safety through increased foot traffic and activation.

Spearheaded by the Wilson L Public Space Committee, Graceland Wilson Neighbors Association, and Uptown United, the "Underline" will include areas for event programming, bike parking, and a food truck court with an adjacent picnic space. The neighbors have teamed with the Metropolitan Planning Council and the University of Illinois at Chicago's Transit Oriented Development Studio to help design the proposal. Taking inspiration from a number of projects around the globe, the "Underline" would include decorative pavement striping similar to Superkilin Park in Copenhagen and dynamic undertrack lighting akin to the Wabash Lights installation currently under evaluation in the Chicago Loop.

While no cost estimate have been available, a spokesperson from Uptown United tells the Chicago Tribune that private and public funding sources are being examined. According to the CTA, the Wilson "Underline" vision is still very much just a proposal at this time. Aside from the funding hurdle, the project must also reconcile the CTA’s contractual obligations to provide parking at the location. The Wilson L Public Space Committee has launched an online survey to gauge what local residents and users of the CTA Red and Purple Lines would like to see at the stop.