October 18, 2002

Straightening Curve will Speed Trains, Decrease Noise

The CTA threw a curve ball at one of the sharpest turns in its rail system today, as it marked the beginning of construction to eliminate the S-shaped portion of elevated track located at Harrison and Wabash. CTA President Frank Kruesi and 2nd Ward Alderman Madeline Haithcock led the festivities.

The Harrison Curve, built more than 100 years ago, slows Green and Orange Line trains to 10 miles per hour. Straightening the curve will allow more trains to travel into the Loop per hour, enable the CTA to increase speeds on that section of track from 10 to 35 mph and provide a faster trip for the 58,800 rides taken over that section each day. In addition, replacing the curve's steel columns with concrete will reduce rail and wheel noise generated by the train.

"In terms of maneuverability, this stretch of track rivals the former S-curve on north Lake Shore Drive," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?Fixing the curve will significantly improve rail operations since Orange and Green Line trains will be able to move in and out of the Loop more efficiently. Completion of this project will increase our ability to deliver quality, affordable transit services that link people, jobs and communities."

Following a competitive bidding process, CTA hired FH Paschen to handle the Harrison Curve construction. The majority of construction work will take place next to the current structure. Therefore, while customers should expect some slow zones, the CTA will stage construction to minimize service interruptions. There will be service interruption over one weekend next spring for the CTA to link the new alignment up with the existing structure. That date is not yet set.

"Our thanks to the Federal Transportation Administration, the Illinois First program and the Regional Transportation Authority for providing the necessary funding to get this project off the ground," said Kruesi. ?When complete, our customers will enjoy a much more pleasant, amenable, convenient and reliable commute."

The Harrison Curve project is just one of many CTA capital improvement projects that are planned or already underway. Other projects include:

Ongoing rehabilitation of the Cermak (Douglas) Branch of the Blue Line

Capacity expansion of the Brown Line

Purchase of new low-floor articulated buses

Installation of an automated bus announcement system

Upgrade of the bus turnaround at 95th Street

Renovation of eight stations on the Dan Ryan Branch of the Red Line

Upgrades to the signal and communications systems at Clark Junction

Selection of a manufacturer for new 'L' cars

The Harrison Curve elevated structure was built in 1897 by the South Side Elevated Railroad to connect with the Loop 'L' which was built by the Union Elevated Railroad. Both preceded the creation of the CTA.

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