Forest Park Branch Rebuild

Forest Park Branch Rebuild

Coming soon: Faster, better and more accessible West Side rapid transit service

The Forest Park Branch Rebuild is a multi-year, multi-phased investment to make service along the Blue Line’s Forest Park Branch faster, safer, more reliable and accessible for riders.

On this page...

About the Forest Park Branch Rebuild

Much of the infrastructure along the Forest Park Branch of the Blue Line is original, dating back to 1958, when Dwight D. Eisenhower was President. While we have performed routine maintenance and made modest improvements over the last six decades, the infrastructure is far beyond its useful life and needs replacement or significant upgrades to address issues impacting day-to-day service, including:

  • Only 4 of the 11 rail stations along the branch are vertically accessible to people who use mobility devices.
  • Overall speed and reliability of service has declined, with nearly 80 percent of the branch categorized as restricted “slow zones,” requiring trains to operate at drastically reduced speeds for safety.

Under the Forest Park Branch Rebuild, we will rebuild a total of seven (7) rail stations to make them meet modern accessibility guidelines; replace the entire trackbed and drainage system along the branch; and upgrade the traction power system to support the electrical needs of modern railcars to meet current and future ridership demands.

We continue to work on securing funding needed to rebuild the entire Forest Park Branch. As funding becomes available, details regarding future phases of the Forest Park Branch Rebuild will be announced.

Phase 1 line cut is complete

As of October 8, Blue Line trains are running between the O’Hare and Forest Park stations, making all stops. Almost three miles of track, between the LaSalle and Illinois Medical District (IMD) stations, were rebuilt in 11 weeks.

Part ACompleted

Part BCompleted

Ongoing work

Additional Phase 1 service impacts

Phase 1 project work was planned on an aggressive timeline to minimize impacts to customers.

As the work was planned minimize impact on customers, CTA sequenced the project to complete the trackwork with bus shuttle support and then complete the signal work with trains are running.  As such, trains will run temporarily at a reduced speed between LaSalle and IMD and then gradually increase up to the posted speed.  The full speed restoration is anticipated by the end of this year.

Anticipated impacts to Blue Line service are expected in 2024-2025 as the remaining portions of Phase 1 project work is completed, this includes upgrading the Morgan Street substation and the reconstruction of the Racine station. During this time, service impacts can include weekend line-cuts, single track operations and/or back rides.

Additional details regarding future project work and impacts to service will be announced ahead of work beginning.

Upgrading power system

Crews are continuing work to upgrade the traction power system that provides electricity to the system and will result in improved service reliability for the Blue Line.  This work entails the construction of a new substation over the right-of-way at Morgan Street, as well as other upgrades being made to power system components in the area (e.g., switchgear, transformers and rectifiers at the Hermitage Substation).

Racine Station

Crews have already demolished and begun to rebuild the Racine main station entrance to make it fully accessible to those who use mobility devices as part of the CTA’s All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP). Currently only four of the 11 stations on the Forest Park Branch of the Blue Line are accessible to people who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices.

“The goal of the CTA’s All Stations Accessibility Program is to create equity to those who cannot use the station due to it currently being inaccessible. It is the reality of many Chicagoans—particularly on the Forest Park Branch—who live by a station and cannot access it,” said Irma Gomez-Fierro, manager of ADA Compliance Programs at CTA. “We are excited that Racine station will soon be accessible, and are working to expand our network of accessible stations in the coming years.”

The Loomis St. auxiliary entrance of the Racine station re-opened following the completion of track work.

Rendering of the Racine entrance
Rendering of the Racine entrance, which is expected to open in late-2024
Rendering of the Racine entrance
Rendering of the Racine entrance, which is expected to open in late-2024

As part of Phase 1 of the Forest Park Rebuild, the station house at the main Racine entrance will include a new elevator. In addition to the elevator, a longer platform and new stairs will replace the ramp that once connected the platform to street level at Racine Avenue.

The main entrance of the Racine station will remain closed and is expected to re-open in late-2024, at which time the Loomis St. auxiliary entrance will close for reconstruction through 2025.