The Chicago Transit Authority is entering the next phase of its renovation of the Cermak (Douglas) Branch of the Blue Line.
During weekends only from March 15th through April 21, 2002, steel spans along the elevated structure will be replaced with new ones. New train tracks will be installed and scrap steel will be removed from the construction area. Other steel spans will be replaced in the months ahead.
This initial construction activity will begin from Pulaski west to Keeler along the right-of-way of the CTA's elevated tracks. Crews will begin on Friday evenings and work continuously through late Sunday nights. In order to provide regular service, work must take place when trains are not operating.
Residents along the Cermak (Douglas) Branch will be impacted by the construction work in the area. "No parking" restrictions will be enforced; weekend alley closures will take place; work will continue over 24-hour periods; and illegally parked vehicles will be towed. Any obstructions along the CTA's right-of-way will be permanently removed. While the work continues, the CTA will do its best to minimize any inconvenience by providing residents and customers with advance notice of construction activities.
The CTA is making considerable progress on its largest capital improvement project, the $482.6 million rehabilitation of the branch. Since breaking ground six months ago, the project remains on-time and on-budget. Construction crews have been working as far west as Cicero, and at several points in Chicago in an effort to renovate the branch, which is more than 100 years old.
Recently, the CTA shifted its bus and rail service from 54th/Cermak in Cicero to a temporary, accessible entrance farther east at Laramie to allow rail yard improvements to be made at 54th/Cermak.
To date, workers have completed more than 200 caissons (foundations for the vertical support columns); poured over 100 columns; made three column adjustments (replacing the foundations and adjusting the column heights); constructed new track from 54th to 50th Avenue; completed 50% of the foundation for the new 54th Avenue station, and fabricated approximately 2,000 tons of steel. Signal, electrical and traction power upgrades continue as well.
By the time the project is completed by late 2005, the CTA will have replaced five miles of track, rail ties and footwalks; rebuilt or renovated eight stations; removed and replaced 350 elevated structural spans; installed more than 700 caissons; and upgraded the signal and communications systems. All Cermak (Douglas) Branch stations will then be fully accessible to customers with disabilities.
None of the stations will close during the rehabilitation, and the majority of the track and structure work will take place over the weekend when the line is closed to regular service. As station work gets under way, the CTA will create temporary entrances to provide greater convenience for customers.
The Cermak (Douglas) branch is situated on Chicago's near Southwest Side and provides rapid transit service to the neighborhoods of Pilsen, Heart of Chicago, Little Village, Lawndale and the town of Cicero. The branch also serves as a vital link to various medical centers such as Rush Presbyterian-St. Luke's, Cook County, University of Illinois, Veteran's Administration and St. Anthony's Hospitals.# # #