The Chicago Transit Board, at its monthly meeting, approved a contract that will bring a series of improvements to 21 CTA rail stations mainly along the Red Line and the O'Hare Branch of the Blue Line.
These improvements will extend the useful life of the existing facilities, make them more attractive to customers and more convenient for people with disabilities. Some of these changes will be very visible to rail customers, while others will be behind-the-scenes improvements.
"Consistent reinvestment is needed to keep our system attractive and inviting to our daily customers, and to encourage potential riders to use our transit system," said CTA Board Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett. "These improvements will reinforce other successful initiatives we have taken to meet customer needs and keep the momentum of our ridership increase going."
Among the most significant improvements to be made as part of this contract are upgrades to make 11 rail stations compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. (ADA).
This station improvement package will allow for major ADA improvements such as installation of elevators or wheelchair-accessible ramps at six stations. Elevators will be installed on the Red Line stations at Sox/35th Street and 95th Street and on the Blue Line O'Hare Branch stations at Jefferson Park and at Logan Square. Wheelchair-accessible ramps will be constructed at the Blue Line Forest Park Branch stations at UIC/Halsted and at Kedzie-Homan.
Two stations on the Red Line (Loyola and 79th Street), two stations on the Blue Line (O'Hare and Forest Park), and the Brown Line station at the Merchandise Mart will also receive improvements to make these stations ADA-compliant. Among the improvements to be made are: curb cuts at sidewalks, tactile signs for the visually-impaired, new directional and informational signs, textured flooring atop stairs, reconfiguring bus islands to accommodate wheelchairs and installing portable ramps for wheelchair access between platforms and trains.
All 21 rail stations will be furnished with brighter lighting and upgraded communications equipment in the form of new audio-visual public address systems that will use text messages to alert customers about train arrivals, delays, special events and other pertinent travel information. In addition, telephone lines at the stations will be given higher capacity and reliability. Other improvements will be made according to the needs of each station.
The stations slated to receive some improvements as part of this project include the 95th/Dan Ryan, 87th, 79th, 69th, 63rd, Garfield, 47th, Sox/35th, Cermak-Chinatown, Loyola and Bryn Mawr stations on the Red Line; the Blue Line stations at O'Hare, Jefferson Park, Montrose, Irving Park, Addison, Logan Square on the O'Hare Branch, and Forest Park, Kedzie-Homan and UIC/Halsted on the Forest Park Branch; and the Merchandise Mart station on the Brown Line.
Among the upgrades that customers will notice will be the installation of infrared heaters on platforms and in fare equipment areas; the repair of older floors and the construction of new glazed brick walls for easier maintenance.
This project was competitively bid and the Walsh Construction Company of Chicago was the lowest responsive and responsible bidder. They will carry out the $60.4 million station improvement project with 30% DBE participation of minority and female contractors and suppliers. More than half the project budget, $42.5 million, will be allocated for the ADA improvements to the CTA stations.
By packaging this station improvement project into one bid, the CTA will be able to reduce contract management costs while maintaining a consistent level of quality in workmanship and materials throughout the length of the contract. The CTA also benefits from the economies of scale similar to a volume discount.
Construction work is expected to begin within 60 days from a final contract and should be completed within 14 months. Upon completion of this station improvement project, 95% of the CTA stations designated to be made fully ADA-compliant will have been completed.
"Capital investments directly affect the quality of service we offer, and now that we have the funding to upgrade our facilities, we can move ahead with this effort," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. "It takes commitment by our employees to provide on-time, clean, safe and friendly service, and together with these improvements, we'll be better able to meet service demands in the years ahead."###