The Chicago Transit Authority Board has approved a $56.7 million contract to rebuild its Howard Street station.

Evanston Assistant City Manager Judith Aiello said, “we’re very excited that at this point all systems look like they’re ‘go’ for this project.”

The station, which lies on the border between Chicago and Evanston, serves the CTA’s Red, Yellow and Purple rapid transit lines as well as several bus routes.

CTA President Frank Kruesi said in a statement that the new facility would “greatly enhance the transit experience for our customers.”

Several residents at an 8th Ward neighborhood meeting last night said they’re eager to see the decrepit and often foul-smelling station replaced.

“People hate the old place,” Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said, “With this brand new station it will be spectacular.” She said the project will also help drive additional redevelopment along the Howard Street corridor.

James McHugh Construction Company won the competitive bidding for the station project, which the CTA board approved on Wednesday.

The work will make the station accessible to persons with disabiliites and will include rehabilitation of the Howad Street viaduct and the retail space on the north side of the street as well as creation of a new entrance at the south end of the station to serve the parking garage and bus terminal built there in 2001 and 2002.

Construction is scheduled to begin this spring and be comleted in 2009. The project will be funded by the Regional Transportation Authority and CTA bonds.

The CTA says more than 6,000 passengers start their El rides at the Howard station each weekday.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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