December 15, 2003

Today Chicago Transit Authority President Frank Kruesi joined Cicero town President Ramiro Gonzalez to mark the progress of the CTA's largest capital improvement project ? the $482.6 million renovation of the Cermak (Douglas) branch of the Blue Line ? by officially dedicating the 54th/Cermak station and the rail yard terminal. CTA officials moved into the new rail yard facilities over the weekend. The newly constructed station opened for service on August 18, 2003.

?Today the newly renovated 54th/Cermak terminal exemplifies the progress we have made in rebuilding a nearly century old rail line," stated CTA President Frank Kruesi. "Improving rapid transit service along the Cermak (Douglas) branch of the Blue Line adds to the comfort and convenience for our existing customers, and will help attract new customers to our system."

?This renovation is the culmination of many years of hard work and dedication," said Cicero Town President Ramiro Gonzalez. ?I?d like to thank CTA President Frank Kruesi for his commitment to this community. We are happy with the cooperative spirit we?ve enjoyed with the CTA throughout the renovation project and we are more than thrilled with the outcome. This station is truly one that Cicero residents can be proud of."

The state-of-the-art, accessible station located at 2151 S. 54th Avenue, offers a number of customer-friendly amenities including three entrances. While the main entrance to the stationhouse is located between 54th Avenue and Laramie Avenue, two auxiliary fare card entrances -- at Laramie and 54th Avenues -- provide convenient access to the station.

The platform, which stretches approximately 1,200 feet between the 54th and Laramie Avenue entrances, features benches, overhead heaters and enhanced lighting that add to the comfort of CTA customers. Canopies have been installed to protect customers from the elements.

A ramp, wheelchair turnstile, TTY telephones, tactile edging, gap fillers and Braille signs offer accessibility for customers with disabilities. Audio/visual station signs and a public address system are in place to help customers navigate the station and receive important travel information.

54th/Cermak station serves as a connection point between the 'L', four CTA bus routes and four PACE bus routes. It is one of more than 90 bus and trains stops that link-up with Pace and Metra. CTA buses and trains provide nearly half the number of all transit trips taken by suburban Cook and collar county customers.

The newly reconstructed terminal ? where trains begin and end their trips along this portion of the Blue Line ? also has allowed the CTA to expand its rail yard at 54th/Cermak. The new rail yard holds 100 rail cars ? up from 88 ? and includes a new transportation office building, rail car washer, track and signal maintenance building and yard office building. The improvements increase service reliability for customers along the branch by ensuring that repair and maintenance equipment and additional cars are conveniently located nearby. In addition, the new two-car washer at this end of the line will mean cleaner rail cars for customers to board.

The Cermak (Douglas) rehabilitation project is the largest capital improvement project to date to bring the CTA's infrastructure to a state of good repair.

?This project is a prime example of the CTA's commitment to provide the kind of service that links people, jobs and communities in the suburbs, as well as Chicago," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole L. Brown. ?Our thanks to President Gonzalez, the town of Cicero and our customers and neighbors for their continued patience during the rebuilding process."

Upon completion of the Cermak (Douglas) branch in January 2005, CTA customers can expect faster, smoother and more reliable rapid transit service along the branch. In addition, all of the stations along the branch will be accessible.

The project involves the reconstruction of eight stations ? 54th/Cermak, Kostner, Pulaski, Central Park, Kedzie, California, Western and Hoyne ? and replacement of the track and support structure.

As of December 1, CTA has completed 96 percent of the project including completion of the foundations for the vertical support columns, steel and concrete columns, and track and girder spans. In addition, two new accessible stations have opened ? Kostner on July 17 and 54th/Cermak on August 18 ? with many new amenities designed to add to the comfort of CTA customers. Station amenities include information kiosks, signs, heaters, benches, windbreaks, canopies to protect customers from the elements and enhanced lighting.

The branch has remained open for service throughout the project, with station work taking place on weekdays using temporary platforms and entrances that provide access to the 'L' while separating the public from work areas. Track and structure work was performed on weekends when the branch was not in operation.

The project, which began in the fall of 2001, will be completed by January 31, 2005. Kiewit/Delgado, AJV (A Joint Venture), a construction firm based in Elgin, Illinois, is overseeing the construction portion of the project.

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 Presbyterian-St. Luke's, John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, University of Illinois, St. Anthony's, Mount Sinai and Veteran's Administration Hospitals are located.

In 2002, the Blue Line was the CTA's second busiest rail line after the Red Line, with a grand total of 35,622,389 rides taken. On an average weekday, the Cermak (Douglas) branch provides 7,558 rides.

The Chicago Transit Authority is the nation's second largest public transit system, serving Chicago and 40 suburbs. Each weekday, the CTA provides 1.5 million rides through a network of seven rail lines and 148 bus routes.

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