CTA will begin the next phase of the Blue Line slow zone elimination work this weekend. Rail service between the Jefferson Park and Harlem Blue Line stations will be temporarily suspended on Friday, October 19 from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. Monday, October 22 and again next weekend in order to replace deteriorated rail ties, tie plates and spikes. Bus shuttles will operate as a substitute for rail service between the two stations. CTA customers are advised to allow extra travel time.
"We feel strongly that we must focus our limited resources on the issues most important to customers and as a result have made progress in eliminating slow zones on the Blue Line a priority. Work in the subway between Damen and Clark/Lake was completed in early September," said CTA President Ron Huberman. ?We are now ready to begin the next phase of work to eliminate slow zones from O'Hare to Addison which have added significant travel time for customers ? during weekday rush periods riders are experiencing an additional 10 minutes added to their trip from O'Hare to Clark/Lake."
The work on the O'Hare branch is divided into three phases ? Jefferson Park to Harlem, Harlem to O'Hare and then Jefferson Park to Addison. As work is completed, CTA will be able to lift slow zone restrictions currently in effect for trains traveling between O'Hare and Addison.
The work from Jefferson Park to Harlem will be completed by the end of this year and eliminate more than 25,000 feet of slow zones. The work is part of an aggressive plan to eliminate slow zones on the O'Hare branch of the Blue Line and redesign the tracks to allow trains to reach speeds above 60 mph. In September, work was completed to eliminate 6,336 feet of northbound and southbound slow zones in the Blue Line subway from Damen to Clark/Lake.
As of October 2, there are more than 17 miles of track from O'Hare to Addison, operating under slow zones. Trains operating on these sections are restricted to speeds ranging from 15 mph to 35 mph ? significantly less than the 55 mph speed trains should operate at between stations. Speed restrictions have been implemented since last summer for safety reasons following track inspections that found that the wooden rail ties were in poor condition and in need of replacement.
The next phase from Harlem to O'Hare will begin in the spring, as weather permits, and will be completed by late summer. Repairs will remove nearly 48,000 feet of slow zones when completed. The final phase to eliminate just over 19,000 feet of slow zones from Jefferson Park to Addison will be completed by the end of 2008.
Construction crews will be replacing more than 67,000 wooden rail ties with recycled plastic rail ties, as well as replacing tie plates and spikes on 111,000 feet of track. Repairs will require weekend suspensions of rail service and may also require late-night single tracks between stations. CTA will provide information to customers when work will adversely impact service and provide bus shuttle service as a substitute for rail service during periods of temporary service suspension. Extra travel time is advisable.# # #