- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, along with representatives of Amtrak and Riverside Development, this week announced the next phase of the redevelopment of the city's historic Union Station. The Chicago city council will vote Wednesday on a $900 million piece of the more than $1 billion Union Station redevelopment that will feature a 1.5 million-square-foot 50-story office tower.
- The project, spearheaded by Riverside Development, will be built on Amtrak-owned property south of the station. It also will include a 1.5-acre public park and two hotels with a total of 400 rooms that will take up renovated space on floors four through eight of the station's head house and on a newly constructed ninth floor. Amtrak will also reinvest some of the funds it received for its part of the modernization program to develop a new entrance, which will provide greater ADA access, and surrounding redevelopment in an area that has been closed off since a 1980 fire. Amtrak is already in process with a skylight renovation in the station's Great Hall.
- As part of the redevelopment, Riverside will make improvements around the station, such as more traffic control and parking enforcement aides during hours of peak activity, signal modernization at 14 intersections, improvements to passenger pick-up and drop-off zones and a program to expand and improve commuter bus stops. Riverside's project is expected to get underway in late 2019 and should generate 5,100 temporary construction jobs.
Under Emanuel, Chicago has created other opportunities for contractors specializing in transportation infrastructure. Earlier this year the city council approved an $8.5 billion expansion of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, a project that will increase the facility by 3 million square feet across an eight-year construction period. The planned scope of work includes demolition of an existing terminal, which will be replaced by a new global terminal able to handle larger airplanes and that will provide passenger access to satellite concourses by way of an underground tunnel. Crews will also renovate three other existing terminals. All in all, the O'Hare project will add 35 new gates and replace 40 others.
In June, the city selected Elon Musk's The Boring Co. to build an underground express train system spanning about 18 miles from downtown to O'Hare. The project is estimated to cost about $1 billion and will not be dependent on taxpayer money. The system will comprise electric "skates" that will transport passengers at speeds up to 150 mph. The Boring Co. estimates that the average trip between the airport and downtown will take about 12 minutes.