July 22, 2004

Rehabilitation Project On Target for January 2005 Completion

Chicago Transit Authority officials announced today that the final two stations renovated as part of the $483 million rehabilitation of the Cermak (Douglas) branch of the Blue Line have re-opened. The California and Damen stations are located at 2011 S. California and 2010 S. Damen Avenue, respectively.

With eight modern, ADA accessible stations now open, the CTA is on target for the project to be completed in January 2005. Over the next six months, CTA will focus on the critical final details.

?With the re-opening of these last two stations today, the highly visible part of our work is done," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?Our efforts will now focus on finishing the signal and communications upgrades, completing the new substation and installing two new escalators at the Polk station. While much of the remaining work will not be as visible as the station and track work has been, these elements are essential."

?Lawndale and Pilsen residents now have two more fully accessible rail stations that provide quality access to jobs, schools, business and recreational activities," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown. "The $33.4 million CTA investment in these two stations is a clear contribution to the economic strength of the area."

With newly installed elevators, escalators, wheelchair turnstiles, TTY telephones, tactile edging and Braille signs, the re-opening of the California and Damen stations make all 11 stations on the Cermak (Douglas) branch accessible to people with disabilities. Prior to the start of the rehabilitation project, three of the 11 stations along the branch were accessible: Polk, 18th Street and Cicero.

The state-of-the-art, accessible California station offers a number of customer-friendly amenities including a new pedestrian walkway bridge, which spans California Avenue. The bridge provides convenient, direct connections to buses while providing protection from inclement weather.

In addition, customers can access the facility through two entrances ? the main entrance is located on the east side of California, and a new auxiliary entrance and exit is located on the west side of California, providing convenient access to and from the station from either side of California Avenue.

The newly renovated Damen station replaces the former Hoyne station. The name change reflects that the location of the main station house is now on the Damen Avenue (east) end of the platform instead of the Hoyne Avenue (west) end of the platform. Damen Avenue is a major thoroughfare and provides more convenient access to the CTA's #50 Damen bus route. The former entrance at Hoyne Avenue has been converted into a secondary entrance.

In addition, the CTA has incorporated historical features at the Damen station. The historic canopy from the original Hoyne station house was restored and covers the west end of the platform. A modern canopy hangs over the east end of the platform.

For customer comfort, both stations have new center platforms that feature benches, overhead heaters and enhanced lighting. New station signs and public address systems help customers navigate the stations and receive travel information.

"These newly renovated stations represent the CTA's dedication to bringing its system to a state of good repair," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. "Our thanks to our Illinois legislative delegation, state legislators, Mayor Richard M. Daley, and the aldermen along the Blue Line for supporting public transportation and for making this project possible."

The CTA has exceeded its Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) contract goal of 35 percent for the Blue Line Rehabilitation Project with 37.9 percent DBE contracts.

Prior to the rehabilitation, the more than 100 years old steel structure that supported the elevated portion of the Cermak (Douglas) branch was well beyond its useful life. Despite efforts to maintain the system, the overall condition had deteriorated to a point that permanent slow zones were present throughout more than half of the track.

Slow zones required trains to operate as slow as 15 mph instead of the normal 55 mph. A trip from 54th/Cermak to downtown could take as long as 45 minutes before construction began. That same trip will take less than 25 minutes when the rehabilitation is completed.

The project involves reconstructing eight stations ? 54th/Cermak, Kostner, Pulaski, Central Park, Kedzie, California, Western and Hoyne, replacing the track and support structure and new signal communications.

The CTA has completed installation of the foundations for the vertical support columns, steel and concrete columns, and track and girder spans and renovation of all eight stations.

The branch has remained open for service throughout the project. Track and structure work was performed on weekends when the branch was not in operation.

The project, which began September 10, 2001, will be completed by January 31, 2005. Kiewit/Delgado, AJV (A Joint Venture), of Elgin, is overseeing the construction portion of the project.

The project was funded through a Full Funding Grant Agreement with the federal government and locally through Illinois FIRST, the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).

The Cermak (Douglas) branch is 6.6 miles long and provides rapid transit service to Pilsen, Heart of Chicago, Little Village, Lawndale and the town of Cicero. It serves as a vital link to the Chicago Loop and the Illinois Medical District where medical centers such as Rush University Medical Center, John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, University of Illinois, St. Anthony's, Mount Sinai and Veterans? Administration Hospital, are located.

The Blue Line is the CTA's second busiest rail line after the Red Line. In June 2004, a total of 121,695 rides were taken on an average weekday with 8,584 of those rides provided on the Cermak (Douglas) branch.

The Chicago Transit Authority is the nation's second largest public transit system, serving Chicago and surrounding suburbs. Nearly two million customers use some combination of CTA, Pace and Metra to get to and from destinations throughout the six-county region. The CTA is committed to meeting the transportation needs of the region by providing quality and affordable transit service for all of its customers.

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