WASHINGTON — Chicago Union Station will receive a $93.6 million grant for modernization, part of the Chicago Hub Improvement Program outlined earlier this year by federal, state, local, and Amtrak officials.
U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, and U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (all D-Ill.), announced the funding today (Wednesday, Dec. 6). Money will come from the Federal Railroad Administration’s Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail grant program.
The money will fund renovation and expansion of station platforms, bringing platforms into compliance with the Americans with Disability Act, improving ventilation systems, and adding an entrance/exit to improve passenger capacity. It will also allow the station’s mail platform, out of use since 2005, to be repurposed for passenger use.
“This significant federal investment is a strategic move to ensure our city remains not just a crossroads, but a thriving nexus that efficiently connects people, goods, and ideas,” Durbin said in a press release. “It’s an acknowledgement that Union Station must adapt and innovate to cater to the evolving needs of our residents and the broader American landscape.”
While notable, the funding announced today — barring further awards still to be announced — falls far short of the $872.8 million in Federal-State Partnership funds officials said they were seeking at an August press conference [see “Chicago Hub project vies for big chunk of federal grant money,” Trains News Wire, Aug. 3, 2023]. That would enable more than $1.1 billion in projects that would also draw money from Amtrak, the states of Illinois and Michigan; the City of Chicago; the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning; and Cook County, Ill. The full Hub project, as described here, would also include a direct connection between Union Station and the St. Charles Air Line and extension of a passing track to address a bottleneck near Dowagiac, Mich.
“Improvements to Chicago’s Union Station are critically important for improving rail service and reliability for folks in Chicago and throughout Illinois, but also for preventing delays and increasing safety for the more than 30 million riders across all the rail services that pass through Union Station each year,” Duckworth said. “This announcement is a great start in working toward these improvements, but I’ll keep working to ensure we bring more funding into the Chicago Hub Improvement Program because this critical project isn’t just beneficial for Chicago and Illinois, it’s also a win for the Midwest and a win for our entire country.”
An Amtrak spokesman deferred comment until after an official release by the U.S. Department of Transportation and/or FRA. Officials involved in other projects receiving Federal-State Partnership money have indicated that release is expected on Friday.