With the Obama Presidential Center and companion projects such as the new Tiger Woods golf course headed to Chicago’s Jackson Park, calls to bring better public transit to the South Side are growing louder and more persistent. Claiming that existing CTA bus service and the Metra electric line are insufficient to meet the expected demand, a newly-launched online petition is making the case to rebuild the 63rd Street branch of Green Line ‘L’ tracks.
Originally designed to bring visitors to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, the tracks east of Cottage Grove gradually deteriorated before finally being demolished in 1997—effectively cutting off the park from rest of the ‘L’ system. The move to destroy the Jackson Park branch of the Green Line was enacted with less than 24 hours notice and is still a sour point for many South Side residents and transit advocates.
If the CTA ever considered restoring the tracks, “there has never been a better time,” argues the petition’s author Reuben Lillie. Once a satisfactory number of signatures are collected, Lillie plans to deliver the following recommendations to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and 16 other key decision-makers:
- A joint planning committee be formed, 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.
- As much as possible, the original materials currently stored at the 61st Street Yard be salvaged and used in construction.
- Two-way boarding be re-established at King.
- At least two new, strategically located stations be installed between Cottage Grove and Stony Island, as was the case with stops originally at Lexington (now University) and Madison (now Dorchester).
- An additional study be conducted toward reinstating either or both the 58th and 61st stations or otherwise strategically located stops between Garfield and Cottage Grove.
- Designs for all new and renovated stations celebrate their locations and are accessible to persons with disabilities.
- Designs for the new Stony Island terminus and the new bridge over the Illinois Central Railroad right of way be harmonized with and incorporated into the plans for the Obama Presidential Center.
- 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.
More information—along with an opportunity to sign the plan—can be found here. As of Tuesday afternoon, the petition had collected the signatures of 27 individuals.