Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn today announced a comprehensive improvement plan for the Chicago Transit Authority’s Blue Line O’Hare Branch, according to a CTA news release.
The $492 million plan, "Your New Blue," includes several track and station improvement projects along a 12.5-mile stretch of the Blue Line O’Hare Branch between the Grand and Cumberland stations, as well as upgrades to the signal system between the Jefferson Park and O’Hare stations. This project is the largest comprehensive investment for this line since the O’Hare branch extension was built from Jefferson Park to O’Hare in 1983, according to the release.
The improvements will provide faster, more comfortable and more reliable commutes for the more than 80,000 customers who each weekday use stations along the branch, which had 25 million rides last year, according to the release.
Emanuel said in a statement that the plan is "far-reaching and long overdue."
“This plan represents a huge investment in CTA riders and visitors traveling to Chicago via O’Hare and many vibrant communities along the North and Northwest Sides. It’s also part of our latest efforts to modernize our transit system for the 21st century," he said.
Quinn said in a statement, “By modernizing the Blue Line we are creating more than 1,000 jobs while making it faster, safer and more reliable for the millions of travelers that use it every year.
“The Blue Line is often the first or final impression of Chicago for the millions of tourists who rely on it to reach O'Hare," he added. "Several years ago, the City made significant progress updating the Blue Line and its aging track and stations with the help of federal Recovery Act dollars. Today’s announcement renews the federal commitment to the Blue Line and the crucial role it plays linking O’Hare, downtown Chicago, and scores of neighborhoods in between."
The four-year plan’s highlights include:
- Extensive station renovations at the Grand, Chicago, Division, Damen, California, Logan Square and Jefferson Park stations.
- Concrete platform repairs and installation of a new elevator at the Addison station to make it ADA accessible.
- Repairs at the Irving Park, Montrose, Harlem and Cumberland stations.
- Track improvements to eliminate slow zones in the Dearborn Subway (Grand to Division) and Milwaukee Subway (Damen to Belmont).
- Track signal improvements between O’Hare and Jefferson Park, which will improve speed of travel.
- Traction power upgrades to improve service and reliability.
- Installation of new water management systems and repairs to ensure dry and clean subway stations.
- Special track improvements near the O’Hare station and in the Rosemont rail yard to help reduce delays and provide for more efficient operations.
- Upgrade of wireless infrastructure in the subway tunnels to provide customers and workers with faster and more reliable voice, data and web service in the subway. Current infrastructure was built in 2005 and is inadequate and outdated.
“This Blue Line plan will provide the same kind of customer-friendly improvements that lead to faster commutes and a better overall rider experience," Claypool said. "Over the next four years, customers will see the benefits of this program incrementally, which will provide a better commuting experience in the near and long term.”
Ridership on the O’Hare Branch is growing significantly, with more than 25 million station entries in 2012, according to the release. Weekday ridership has grown 25 percent over the past five years, and 33 percent over the past 10 years.
Funding for Your New Blue is expected to come from local, state and federal sources, according to the release. The first projects are expected to get under way in 2014. Project schedules are still being finalized, but the project is expected to begin with track work, following by station renovations, power upgrades and then signal improvements.
For more information, go to www.transitchicago.com.
Information courtesy of a news release from the Chicago Transit Authority.