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The Wabash El tracks will get colorful in January

Written by
Nick Kotecki

The heart of the Loop is about to get a whole lot brighter. In just a month's time, the Wabash Lights project is finally coming together.

In January, the initial stages of the public art piece will begin to take shape. When completed, the underside of the Wabash El tracks will be lit up with more than 5,000 programmable LED lights. The lights will span a 48-foot section of track between Adams and Monroe Streets in the Loop and can be controlled by a mobile app or a website. The project's organizers say that each light tube can be separately controlled down to every 1.2 inches and each user will be able to customize of the colors of different segments and sequences. Control of the lights won't be limited to those in the Chicago area—people across the world will be able to manipulate Wabash Lights.

Though the light installation was scheduled to be completed prior to Thanksgiving, Wabash Lights founders Jack Newell and Seth Unger ran into a few regulatory snags with Chicago officials, who forbid construction on city property during the holidays.

Funding for the project was finalized this summer after Newell and Unger launched a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $55,000. The Wabash Lights aim to beautify a somewhat neglected section of downtown Chicago and bolster the city's reputation as an international destination for travelers.

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