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Metra's board yesterday voted to spend $1 million on a study that will produce 30 percent design plans to improve Chicago Union Station. The study will include planning, historic review and preliminary engineering and design work to address the station's capacity, service accessibility and mobility issues identified in the 2012 Chicago Union Station Master Plan, Metra officials said in a press release.In particular, the study will examine ways to increase train and passenger handling capacity in and around the station; modernize the station to better accommodate future commuter-rail passengers; reduce congestion and enhance facilities for trains and passengers; improve intermodal connections; strengthen access to jobs by better connecting city neighborhoods and suburban communities; and improve compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act."Nearly half of Metra's customers use Chicago Union Station for their trips, so improving and modernizing it is a top priority for our agency," said Metra Chairman Marty Oberman. "By working closely with the city and our partners, we believe this significant project will finally move forward and become a reality."Metra, Amtrak, Chicago and the Regional Transportation Authority collectively drafted a statement of work to solicit a team to work on the project, with a selection to be made by March 2016 and design work expected to be completed in late 2017 or early 2018. Metra is committing $1 million toward the study, while Amtrak has allotted $3 million; the RTA, $1.5 million; and the city of Chicago, $500,000.Chicago Union Station is the third-busiest station in the United States and a key transportation facility and economic driver for Chicago and the region, Metra officials said.
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