Red Ahead

An artist's rendering for the planned reconstruction of the Wilson Red Line station, looking northwest at Wilson and Broadway.

Wilson Station Reconstruction

The $203 million Wilson Station Reconstruction Project will be one of the largest CTA ‘L’ station projects in the agency’s history. The planned reconstruction of the Wilson Red Line station began in 2014, and will replace the badly deteriorated facility that was built in 1923. The completely rebuilt, modern and accessible station will serve as a new transfer point between Red and Purple Line Express train service.

Building a New ChicagoThe Wilson Station Reconstruction Project will provide station access to persons with disabilities in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Today, the Wilson station is not accessible. The new stationhouse will feature two elevators for vertical access to the platforms; ramps; wheelchair access at the fare gates; Braille signage and two of the three new station entrances and exits will be accessible.

The project will also include significant track and structural work that will allow for easy and convenient transfers between the Red Line and Purple Line Express; enhance the street-level environment on Broadway; and improve CTA operations. New, brighter lighting and the installation of more than 100 security cameras throughout the stations and its three entrances will help improve customer safety. Additionally, the restoration of the 1923 stationhouse facade and former clock tower (at the corner of Wilson/Broadway) would make it a viable space for future retail or business development, thus creating an anchor for revitalization and economic development in the Uptown neighborhood.

On this page:


What's New

Next phase of construction to begin September 2016

Starting September 26, 2016 the next phase of work in the project will begin as part of rebuilding the station as well as more than 2,200 feet of adjacent elevated structure and tracks.

All riders at Wilson (now also including those using service toward Howard) will use the modern west island platform that opened in March 2016. This newer platform offers more shelter from elements and is longer and wider than the old platform. The old platform will be closed permanently so a second new platform can be built. Access to this platform from the street is provided exclusively via the temporary entrances on either side of Wilson, west of Broadway.

This phase of work requires continued three-track operations in which southbound Red and Purple Line Express trains share a single track between the Wilson station and the junction north of the Belmont station.

Learn more about how construction work will affect service.

(Overall project work is scheduled to be complete by fall 2017; an outline of the stages of construction work is available below.)


Frequently Asked Questions

What will the new station look like?

The following are renderings of what the proposed Wilson station will look like and how we plan to restore the 1923 stationhouse facade to its original appearance.



What improvements will I see with the new Wilson station?

The new station design features contemporary architecture including steel framed, translucent canopies and a striking, glass-enclosed entrance that will serve as the main station entrance on the south side of Wilson Avenue. Although project plans have not yet been finalized, the current scope of work includes:

  • Service Transfer Point: the new station will feature two island platforms to allow convenient cross-platform transfers between Red Line and Purple Line Express service – making Wilson the only transfer station between the Howard and Belmont stations.

  • Improved Access: three station entrances/exits will be available to improve customer convenience and to capture more riders:

    • Main Entrance: south side of Wilson Avenue
    • Auxiliary Entrance: north side of Wilson Avenue
    • Auxiliary Entrance: at Sunnyside Avenue 
  • Accessibility for Customers with Disabilities: the new stationhouse will be accessible to customers with disabilities with the addition of elevators serving the two platforms and other ADA compliant features such as Braille signage and a wheelchair accessible fare gate. The Sunnyside auxiliary entrance will also be accessible to customers with disabilities with ADA-compliant ramps leading from the station entrance to the platforms.

  • Modern Features: to improve customer convenience, other modern station amenities that will be new or improved upon with the rebuilt station include:

    • Wider stairwells
    • New escalators
    • Additional turnstiles
    • New lighting
    • New signage, including Braille
    • Additional bike parking
    • Modern steel framed, translucent canopies
  • Enhanced Neighborhood Presence: in addition to restoring the terra cotta exterior of the 1923 stationhouse and building a new stationhouse, work will also be performed to better the pedestrian environment on Broadway and Wilson with the removal of some ‘L’ structure support columns from both the street and sidewalk.

  • Safer and More Reliable Service: to better improve the reliability of service and improve travel times, a significant amount of work will be performed on infrastructure and non-customer facing components such as:

    • Replacement of track and viaducts through the station area
    • Upgrades to the signaling system
    • New elevated support structure
    • Removal of all support columns currently located in the street on Wilson and Broadway
    • Removal of many support columns currently located on sidewalks along Broadway
How will this project affect my commute?

The Wilson station will remain open throughout the construction project. However, as with any major construction project, changes in service can be expected, details of which will be made available in the future on this web page and publicized via notices and fliers ahead of time.

During the project, CTA will make every effort to minimize impacts to customers, including scheduling work that will impact service to overnight or weekends only.

After the project is complete, passengers will be able to access both Red Line and Purple Line Express trains at the Wilson station. This will help speed commutes for passengers and provide more travel choices.

What is the timeline for project work?

The following is an outline of the stages of work and the preliminary timeframe for each to occur – some stages will overlap. Overall project work is scheduled to be complete by fall 2017.

  • Pre-Construction (early-October 2014 through spring 2015): work will entail the relocation of some utilities; foundation work for new, relocated infrastructure; and the demolition of unused freight structure, CTA owned property, the Broadway Mall and the Majestic Men’s Wear building (the façade will be kept and restored per project plans).
  • Stage 1 (spring 2015 / 12 months): existing entrances remain open as crews construct temporary entrances on north and south side of Wilson Ave. and a temporary exit near Sunnyside; demolition and reconstruction of Track #1 (southbound track used by Loop-bound Purple Line Express trains); and construction of new southbound shared platform.
  • Stage 2 (spring 2016 / 7 months): all existing and new temporary entrances/exits open; demolition and reconstruction of Track #2 (southbound track used by 95th-bound Red Line trains); new westernmost platform in use.
  • Stage 3 (fall 2016 / 6 months): existing Wilson Ave. and Gerber entrances closed; demolition and reconstruction of Track #3 (northbound track used by Howard-bound Red Line trains)
  • Stage 4 (spring 2017 / 6 months): demolition and reconstruction of Track #4 (northbound track used by Linden-bound Purple Line Express trains); and construction of new northbound shared platform and permanent station entrances.
  • Stage 5 (fall 2017 / 2 months): realign final track configuration and remove any existing temporary entrances/exits.

See materials presented at the September 16, 2014 community meeting.

How is this project being funded?

More than 80 percent ($170 million) of the $203 million project funding comes from the Illinois Jobs Now! program, with the remaining funding provided by the Federal Transit Administration and tax-increment financing.

The Wilson Station Reconstruction project is part of CTA’s Red Ahead program, a $1 billion comprehensive initiative to maintain, modernize and expand the Red Line – Chicago’s most-traveled rail line. State funding supports much of the $1 billion Red Ahead investment. Collectively, these projects are part of Mayor Emanuel’s Building a New Chicago program, which is updating infrastructure that's critical to the city, and includes improvements that will help ensure that CTA continues to serve customers as effectively as possible.


Public Art

As part of this historic station reconstruction project, the CTA has tapped internationally acclaimed artist, designer and engineer Cecil Balmond to create a new, original public artwork for the new Wilson station to further enhance its main entrance.

The Wilson station serves as a gateway to the burgeoning Uptown neighborhood, which boasts a popular and historic entertainment district, the Little Vietnam neighborhood, Truman College, Montrose Harbor, the Lincoln Park lakefront park and more.

Original artwork by this world renowned artist will add value not only to our station and the surrounding community, but also to the overall transit experience for our riders. There are already more than 50 works of art at 41 stations across all eight rail lines. Expanding CTA’s collection of permanent art is a valuable investment for our system and the neighborhoods they serve.

Will public input be solicited for the new art installation?

As part of CTA’s public art program, a public meeting will be held at a future date to provide community members an opportunity to meet the artist and provide feedback on the type of artwork that will be developed for the Wilson station. If you would like to be notified of any new meetings, contact Jeff Wilson at

How was the artist selected?

A Call for Artists was issued in June 2013, to commission public art for display in the reconstructed Wilson station. The deadline for submissions was July 18, 2013 and this opportunity is now closed.

An evaluation committee reviewed 200+ submissions. Internationally acclaimed artist, designer and engineer Cecil Balmond was selected for his artistic merit, qualifications and professional recognition. Mr. Balmond is known for his large-scale public art installations around the world.

Artists interested in receiving notice of future Calls for Artists should e-mail Elizabeth Kelley at
What is the project budget?

Funding for this permanent piece of public art is provided by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and will cover the entire project budget, which is not to exceed $204,000, and includes costs associated with artist fees, fabrication, shipping/delivery, administrative fees and a project contingency fund.

About the Artist

Mr. Balmond, who is Sri Lankan-born and resides in London, is known for his large-scale public art installations around the world. He was selected from a pool of more than 200 artist submissions for his artistic merit and qualifications. He has been a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Architecture, Yale University and a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics. His past projects include the design of Weave Bridge for the University of Pennsylvania, Ito-Balmond Serpentine Pavilion in London, ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower (with artist Anish Kapoor) for the London Olympics and the CCTV Tower (with architect Rem Koolhaus). His current project is the Gretna Landmark, an architectural-scale illuminated sculpture that marks the Scottish and English border crossing.

For more about the artist, visit

More Information

Press Releases:
Supporting Project Documents:


Previous Public Meetings

February 2014 Public Hearing

A public hearing was held (public notice) at the Uplift Community High School on February 18 to present the EA and Section 4(f) document for the Project and to receive public comments.

PDF documentMeeting Presentation (text-only version)
PDF documentPrinted Display Boards (text-only version)

October 2012 Open House

CTA hosted an open house meeting to allow customers and community members an opportunity to view renderings of the proposed Wilson Reconstruction Project, ask questions and submit comments and feedback. Input received will be used to help guide us in finalizing plans for the new station. This meeting was held on October 11, 2012 at Harry S. Truman College.

The complete set of renderings and boards on display during this open house meeting are now available:

PDF documentWilson Reconstruction Project Display Boards
PDF documentPublic Comments


If you were unable to attend these meetings, you can still contact us with any comments or feedback on the station renderings via the following:

Chicago Transit Authority
Attn: Wilson Transfer Station Project
567 W. Lake Street
Chicago, IL 60661-1465

Fax: 312-681-3897



DBE Pre-proposal Meetings

The Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) Wilson Station Reconstruction Project will provide station improvement contracting opportunities for Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE).

See this flyer (.pdf) for more information.

Meetings were held on the following dates:
  • Wednesday, May 1st, 2013 2pm to 4pm at:
    CTA Headquarters
  • Wednesday, May 8th, 2013 9am to 11am at:
    Chicago Urban League
  • Wednesday, May 15th, 2013 9am to 1pm at:
    Truman College


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