Union Station may soon be getting a billion dollar makeover

FOX 32 NEWS - An iconic Chicago train terminal may soon be getting a billion dollar makeover.

Union Station is historic, but it's also crowded and in need of major repairs.          

On Thursday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and transportation leaders got a tour of Union Station as they announced the city has signed an agreement with the US Department of Transportation that could result in one billion dollars for renovation and repairs.

"In layman's terms, this is a little like being pre-approved for a credit card,” said Ray Lang of Amtrak.

Lang says the agreement moves Union Station to the top of the national list for federal funding.

About 130-thousand commuters use the 92-year-old building every day, and demand is growing.

"The station's at capacity during certain times of the day. There's really no more room for trains. But there's demand for more trains. Amtrak trains and Metra trains are full,” Lang said.

The money would add new platforms, improve ventilation, build new entrances and exits, comply with disability requirements and repair the magnificent glass skylight over the great hall. Its beauty is currently marred by water damage and falling plaster.

The green light for the funding comes in the waning days of President Obama’s administration. But officials say they're not worried a President Trump will pull the plug on the project.

"President-elect has already identified infrastructure and transportation investment as a priority. And no matter your political leaning, everyone can agree that Chicago's Union Station needs investment,” said Rebekah Scheinfeld of the Chicago Dept. of Transportation.

Planning the overhaul will take a year, with construction not starting until 2018.