Archive News

Amtrak and partners announce next steps towards implementing Union Station’s Master Plan

On Friday October 16, 2015, Amtrak, the City of Chicago, Metra, and the Regional Transportation Authority gathered in the Great Hall of Chicago Union Station to announce the next steps towards advancing many of the improvement projects recommended as part of the Union Station Master Planning process.

Amtrak issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for planning, historic review and preliminary engineering services, up to 30 percent design, with an option to complete. This will advance work for renovation of an expanded concourse, expanded and added entrances, widening of platforms, disabilities access compliance, pedestrian passageways, and consider ventilation needs in the track and platform areas. Register by 10/30/2015; Pre-Proposal conference at Union Station on 11/3/2015; Proposals are due by 12/4/2015.

Amtrak also issued a Request for Information (RFI) for the opportunity to redevelop the Amtrak-owned station and surrounding land parcels, as well as improvements to both passenger and employee facilities. The RFI represents the first step in the evaluation of interested parties capable of all aspects of project delivery including an implementable Master Development Plan, design, construction, financing, the potential operation and maintenance of non-rail assets, as well as identification of expansion opportunities and commercial development in surrounding areas in the West Loop. Register by 11/05/2015; RFI responses are due by 11/20/2015.

For more information on the RFP and RFI opportunities please visit Amtrak’s Procurement Portal,




Chicago requests bids for $150 million in transit improvements


On September 10, 2014 the American Planning Association Chicago Metro Section held a Workshop focused on the Chicago Union Station Master Plan Study. This was part of a series, usually held monthly, oriented to providing information of interest to professional planners. This one was held in space in the 222 S. Riverside Plaza office building, above the Union Station concourse. There were approximately 85 attendees, significantly more than usually attend these events. The presentations can be viewed here:

Jeffrey Sriver, Director of Transportation Planning and Programming with the City of Chicago’s DOT, presented the context for CDOT’s role as sponsor of the CUS Master Plan Study and the vision on which it is focused. The presentation can be viewed here.

Joe Shacter, Director of Public and Intermodal Transportation, Illinois DOT, talked about IDOT’s vision of access routes to CUS, the Midwest passenger network hub. The presentation can be viewed here.

Marc Magliari, Manager, Media Relations for Amtrak, owner of the Station, described Amtrak’s role in the Master Plan Study. The presentation can be viewed here.

David Kralik, Metra’s Department Head, Long Range Planning discussed Metra’s interests. The presentation can be viewed here.

Kara Riggio, of the Metropolitan Planning Council, discusses MPC’s strong interest in shaping the development of Union Station as a transportation hub for the region as well as a focal point for the West Loop area. The presentation can be viewed here.

David Phillips, AICP, the TranSystems Project Manager, presented the key results of the current stage of the Study, including examples of the output of the three simulation models: train operations, pedestrian flow, and street traffic. The presentation can be viewed here.

A short tour of the station was conducted at the conclusion of the presentation, focusing on pointing out areas where improvements and capacity increases are proposed.

The event gathered its own media coverage; links to the stories are here:

Union Station Rehab on Track

Major changes discussed to expand, renew Union Station

SEPTEMBER 18, 2013 “Activate Union Station Gets the Conversation Rolling on Creative Use of Space”

Link to story on Metropolitan Planning Council Web Site:



On May 29, 2013 The Chicago Union Station Master Plan was awarded the “Best New Plan” award by Friends of Downtown. The presentation took place at the organization’s annual awards ceremony held at the Cliff Dwellers Club. The Friends cited the importance of improvements to Union Station, the quality of the planning, and the presentation on the project website. The winner was chosen from among candidates selected by Friends based on polling on the Friends website, Jeff Sriver, project manager for the City of Chicago’s DOT, thanked the Committee. Separate plaques were presented to CDOT and TranSystems, CDOT’s consultant.



DECEMBER 14, 2012 –


Today Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) awarded notice to proceed from for the second stage of work on the Union Station Master Plan Study. This work will include three key components:

1) A train operations simulation model of existing and possible future conditions at Chicago Union Station (CUS)

2) A pedestrian flow model of existing and possible future conditions within CUS’s passenger areas

3) A street traffic simulation model of existing and possible future conditions on 40 blocks surrounding CUS

The goal of this study will be to establish a robust technical case for implementing the “medium term” recommendations of the first stage of the Study. The second stage of the Study will determine just how much capacity (i.e., how many years of growth) these improvements are likely to accommodate. The key “medium term” improvements are:

  • Reconfiguring the existing concourse to improve capacity and flow
  • Widening platforms 6/8 and 10/12 (plus new direct access to street level)
  • Repurposing the old mail platforms for passenger use, providing 4 new tracks (on 2 platforms, including access from the existing station concourse via refurbished existing corridors and spaces below track level)
  • Ensuring that CDOT’s planned Canal Street viaduct reconstruction is designed to be consistent with CUS’s long term needs

The consultant team for this stage of the project, selected in a competitive process, is led by TranSystems and includes three firms that worked on the previous stage – Ross Barney Architects, EJM Engineering and Big Picture Marketing – and adds Legion America (a firm specializing in pedestrian simulation) and Regina Webster and Associates (specialists in traffic simulation). The train operations and pedestrian simulation efforts are planned to start first, providing data to feed into the traffic simulation models.

Public outreach efforts will also continue. There will be ongoing involvement of a Civic Advisory Committee led by the Metropolitan Planning Council. The project website will also continue to be updated.


April 19, 2012 – New Vision for Union Station

Link to PDF of The Doings, Western Springs

April 12, 2012 – Metra board to look at plan for future of Union Station

BY TINA SFONDELES Transportation Reporter

Link to PDF of Sun-Times story


March 14, 2012 – Metropolitan planning council hosts panel of experts

The Metropolitan Planning Council hosted a panel of experts to discuss the best options for 21st century train stations that not only meet the technical requirements of rail but capture the energy and buying power of its passengers. The panel consisted of:

  • Frank Cannon, who discussed the Denver Union Station project and the innovative public/private structure that was put in place to implement it.
  • Tom Downs, a longtime transportation expert, who focused on the very successful Washington Union Station
  • Luann Hamilton, the Deputy Commissioner of the City of Chicago’s DOT, summarized the issues with Chicago’s Union Station and the ideas for improvement that have emerged in the current Master Plan Study.

Here is a link to the MPC’s blog post on the session:

This includes links to the presentations that Frank Cannon and Luann Hamilton used.

Here are links to stories that ran as a follow-up to the MPC Panel.

This is a link to the WBEZ/Chicago story and audio clip – “Chicago as a Rail Hub, Washington, DC Offers Advice.”

Link to Forbes follow-up story:

Link to PDF of Forbes story




Dec. 15, 2011 – Public Meeting regarding the Master Plan Study

Almost 200 people came to this open house meeting which was held from 4-7 pm in the Union Gallery room, located off the Great Hall at Chicago Union Station. Staff people from the stakeholder agencies and the TranSystems consultant team were available to explain the information about existing conditions and ideas for improvements that have developed in the course of the Master Plan Study. There were a total of 21 display boards. Jeff Sriver of the Chicago Department of Transportation narrated two presentations of the exhibits projected in a mini theater set up in the room.

December 15, 2011 Presentation

The Chicago Tribune’s Jon Hilkevitch authored this story that ran prior to the meeting.

Link to PDF of Chicago Tribune article

The Metropolitan Planning Council posted this story on their website after the meeting.