Union Station renovation plans to be announced today
Amtrak is promising improvements to Union Station that should appeal to both commuters tired of being overcrowded and architecture fans.
Officials from the railroad, Metra, the Regional Transportation Authority and city of Chicago are expected to detail an extensive improvement plan Friday at the iconic downtown station whose staircase was prominently featured in "The Untouchables" movie.
The coalition will start a search for a developer and architecture firm to design the station redo.
Officials also said they intend to spend about $14 million this year and in 2016 to restore the famous staircase and open a new passenger lounge with access to Canal Street.
It's estimated Union Station is the third-busiest railroad terminal in the U.S. The project will include an expanded concourse, adding and widening entrances, increasing platform size, fixing ventilation problems and building new pedestrian passageways.
RTA Chairman Kirk Dillard said in a statement the coalition recognized Union Station's architectural value and would restore "its former glory."
Metra Chairman Martin Oberman said the renovations would allow the approximately 50,000 commuters who use the station to get to and from trains faster.
The limited access points and narrow passages at the station can cause system delays to spiral into huge overcrowding headaches.
Big events such as the Blackhawks victory parade in 2010 caused another meltdown at the station with claustrophobic conditions and confusion.