January 28, 2005

The Chicago Transit Authority today announced its plans for station renovations as part of the Brown Line capacity expansion project. In order to stay within the project budget and preserve amenities planned for neighborhood stations, the CTA will implement temporary closures of some Brown Line stations during construction. These closures will allow the CTA to minimize the amount of time construction crews will be present in neighborhoods.

"After an extensive, independent review of cost estimates and construction schedules, and after consulting my fellow board members, I have determined that budget constraints require seven-day temporary closures at certain stations as well as additional weekend closures for most stations on the line," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown. ?The station improvements and increased capacity will benefit Brown Line customers and neighborhood residents for years to come. After carefully examining all of the options, it is clear that the long-term benefits far outweigh the short-term inconvenience."

In January, Chicago Transit Board members authorized Chairman Carole Brown to make the final decision on construction options on behalf of the Board in order to meet a January 31 Federal Transit Administration filing deadline.

"The Brown Line is a community asset and our customers and the community understand the long-term benefits of having a rapid transit system that meets their transportation needs and aids in the continued growth and development of their communities," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?Temporary closures will enable the CTA to maintain its commitment to stay within the budget and meet the completion dates required as part of the Full Funding Grant Agreement as well as maintaining Brown Line service throughout construction. The complexity of this project presents a number of challenges, but we are committed to meet those challenges and keep the line operating during construction."

In May 2004, CTA received construction bids for the project that exceeded the budget, making it necessary to identify $152 million worth of cost savings. The project was reorganized into several discrete pieces to help attract more competitive construction bids. Signal system upgrades and electrical substation work were successfully re-bid, and work began in fall 2004.

Work on station renovations have been grouped into five separate packages according to location. Pending approval from funding agencies, the first package expected to go out for bid is Belmont/Fullerton. The remaining four packages ? Armitage/Sedgwick/Chicago, Kimball/Kedzie/Francisco/Rockwell/Western, Damen/Montrose/Irving Park/Addison and Paulina/Southport/Wellington/Diversey ? will follow.

Planned temporary station closures will save CTA an estimated $22 million on construction costs. As a result, CTA will be able to keep station modifications to a minimum, focusing largely on non-customer components such as communication rooms and janitor closets to further reduce the overall cost of construction.

?CTA is working and will continue to work with local elected officials, local businesses and community members to keep them informed of plans for station renovation, temporary closures and other pertinent details that will help minimize the impact of construction on their daily lives," added Brown.

Under the current plan, three stations ? Fullerton, Belmont and Western ? will remain open throughout construction. Maintaining service at these three heavily trafficked stations for the duration will minimize the effect of surrounding temporary station closures.

Armitage, Sedgwick and Chicago will remain open on weekdays. Under the current plan it will, however, be necessary to concurrently close all three of these southern-most Brown Line stations for up to six weekends during the construction period to allow construction crews unlimited access to station platforms. During these periods, customers will be encouraged to use the most convenient existing CTA bus and rail service in the area.

Damen, Montrose, Irving Park, Addison, Paulina, Southport, Wellington and Diversey will be subject to temporary weekday and weekend closures, with no adjacent stations being closed at the same time. Customers will be encouraged to use the next-closest or most conveniently located station during any given temporary closure.

Kimball, Kedzie, Francisco and Rockwell will be subject to two types of temporary closures. On weekdays and weekends, these stations will experience temporary closures, with no adjacent stations being closed at the same time. In addition, under the current plan, it will be necessary to concurrently close all fourof these northern-most Brown Line stations for up to 10 weekends throughout the construction period to allow construction crews unlimited access to station platforms. During these periods, customers will be encouraged to use nearby existing CTA bus service.

"We have experienced great success with recent renovation projects, such as the 54th/Cermak branch of the Blue Line, and are approaching this project using lessons learned," said Kruesi. ?Working with the community to let it know what to expect is an important part of the project's success. The Brown Line is an integral part of the community it serves and the renovated stations will reflect that."

The project's Full Funding Grant Agreement with the federal government requires that the CTA complete the project by the end of 2009. In a separate agreement, the Federal Transit Administration requires that work to make the Fullerton station accessible be completed by the end of 2008.

The Brown Line capacity expansion project includes: the rehabilitation of 18 Brown Line stations; lengthening station platforms to accommodate eight rather than six-car trains; provide for station enhancements to meet the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); upgrade or replace traction power, signal and communication equipment; and reduce the number of slow zones on the line.

Work is already underway to upgrade the Brown Line's signal system from Kimball to Western. It involves installing signal equipment along the tracks, installing six new crossing gates and circuitry where the Brown Line crosses at street level at Spaulding, Kedzie, Albany, Sacramento, Francisco and Rockwell, and rehabilitating Kimball Tower where signals control switches and direct trains.

At Clark Junction ? the location where Brown, Purple and Red Line tracks merge just north of the Belmont station ? work is being done to install a new signal system from Armitage to Addison, provide signals for 14 rail crossovers and rehabilitate Clark Tower located at the junction.

Operating between downtown and the Northwest Side, the Brown Line was originally constructed in two phases opening for service in 1900 and 1907. The line is the third busiest of CTA's rail lines, serving more than 66,000 customers each weekday, with 19 stations from Kimball on the north to the downtown Chicago Loop.

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Chairman Brown's letter to the FTA (18KB PDF Document)

Brown Line information (110KB PDF Document)

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