CTA Approves Contract to Begin First Phase of Track Reconstruction Work of the Forest Park Branch of the Blue Line

December 14, 2022

Phase 1 work includes reconstruction of the entire track bed between UIC-Halsted and Illinois Medical District (IMD), plus accessibility improvements at Racine Station.

The Chicago Transit Board today approved a contract for the first phase of track reconstruction work as part of extensive improvements planned for the entire Forest Park Branch of the Blue Line.

“The Blue Line is a lifeline for those living and working in the surrounding communities and who make up the millions of rides we see along this branch each year, but for too long these riders have had to rely on a system that has become slower and greatly in need of modernization,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “This investment will allow us to deliver the level of service Blue Line riders deserve – which is safer, faster and more reliable.”

The Forest Park branch of the Blue Line was built in the late 1950s and has received targeted investments, including signal upgrades, station improvements, and routine track maintenance since being built. But after more than six decades of heavy use, track components along the entire branch are now beyond their useful life. Nearly 70% of the Congress Branch Blue Lines has slow zones, leading to significant delays. Once complete, track improvements will remove approximately 15,000 feet of slow zone, reducing travel times by two minutes, and helping improve overall reliability

The overall reconstruction of the Forest Park Branch will be done under multiple phases as funding becomes available. Reconstruction of the track between Illinois Medical District and UIC-Halsted is part of Phase 1 of the project and includes replacing all rail ties, rails, ballast in the area, reconstructing the track drainage system, as well as the traction power and signal components to accommodate trackwork.

Today’s Board action awards a roughly $105 million contract to Kiewit Infrastructure Company following a competitive procurement process. The 30% Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) meets the project’s DBE goal, and will include subcontractors who are based in the Chicagoland region and the U.S.

Also included in Phase 1 work will be accessibility improvements to the Racine station, which will be performed under a separate contract. Racine is one of 42, non-vertically accessible stations identified for upgrades as part of CTA’s All Stations Accessibility (ASAP) Strategic Plan – the nation’s first comprehensive, living plan for transit accessibility. Improvements planned for the station will include the addition of a new elevator, modernization of the station house, as well as the extension of the platform to allow for new stairs at the Racine Street entrance.

The awarding of today’s contract is the latest measure to deliver reliable and consistent services – one of the five guiding pillars of the CTA’s “Meeting the Moment” Action Plan -- a multifaceted investment plan to strengthen the rider experience – more consistent and reliable service, safe rides, clean facilities, modern amenities, dynamic customer engagement tools, and a strong CTA workforce.

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