Chicago Transit Authority President Frank Kruesi and 24th Ward Alderman Michael Chandler marked the official opening of the newly reconstructed Homan entrance of the Kedzie/Homan Station on the Forest Park branch of the Blue Line.
The improvements to the Kedzie-Homan station include modified ramps leading to the platforms to make them accessible to customers with disabilities; brighter lighting; a new audio-visual public address system; refurbished floors; newly glazed brick walls; new entrance doors; improved passenger flow entryway; new customer assistance call button; new customer assistant booth; and construction of a new utility hut under the station structure. The station improvement project cost $2.6 million.
CTA President Frank Kruesi said, "The ability to rebuild our transit system and bring it to a state of good repair allows us to improve the quality of service we offer our customers and provide on-time, clean, safe and friendly service to this city and the 38 suburbs we serve. We thank Mayor Daley, Governor Ryan and Speaker Hastert for the support that led to this new investment in the CTA."
This station is just one of the 26 CTA rail stations that are undergoing improvements to make them more attractive and convenient for customers and accessible to customers with disabilities.
Improvements to rail stations are among the many exciting capital investment projects that are now a common sight throughout the CTA system. The CTA's five-year capital improvement plan identifies $4.6 billion worth of projects that are necessary to bring the CTA into a state of good repair. Just a few years ago, the CTA could only fund about 19% of its capital needs. Thanks to the efforts of Mayor Richard M. Daley, Speaker Dennis Hastert and Governor George Ryan, the CTA now has the funding for nearly 70%, or $2.8 billion, of its capital projects. The Governor's Illinois FIRST program provided the regional funds necessary to match available federal funds. In addition, their leadership helped secure $384 million in New Start money to rebuild the Cermak (Douglas) branch of the Blue Line.
The agency's largest capital improvement priority is the reconstruction of the Cermak (Douglas) Branch of the Blue Line. Earlier this year, a full-funding grant agreement formalized the federal government's commitment to share the $482 million cost of reconstructing the 102-year old rapid transit line on Chicago's West Side. Under the agreement, the federal government will pay $384 million, with $80.9 million coming from Governor Ryan's Illinois FIRST program and the balance coming from regional funding. The legislation also provided the flexibility in the disbursement of the funding so that this important project can get underway as quickly as possible. Construction work is expected to begin later this summer. ###
Other improvements CTA customers are seeing are the addition of 469 low-floor, air-conditioned Nova buses that are modernizing the CTA bus fleet. To date, 74 new buses have been delivered, with a total of more than 300 Nova buses expected to be in service by the end of 2001. The remainder will arrive in 2002. In addition to the 469 standard-sized buses on order from Nova, the CTA is upgrading its bus and rail fleets with several other major initiatives including the purchase of up to 200 new articulated (accordion-style) buses; the overhaul of 475 buses to extend their service life and add air-conditioning units they did not have when they were purchased ten years ago. As a result of these improvements, the CTA bus fleet will be almost 100% air-conditioned and accessible by 2004. More than half of the 598 rail cars that were delivered to CTA between 1981 and 1987 are back in service after a mid-life overhaul. The cars are being rehabbed at a rate of 14 per month. The 2600-series rail cars, as they are known, are being redesigned so their electronic controls will perform efficiently, even in the most severe weather, and they are also being provided with more powerful air-conditioning systems. Once rehabbed, they are more reliable and result in better service for customers. 24th Ward Alderman Michael Chandler said, "Transportation is one of the key elements of redevelopment. Our community boasts new housing units, a new theatre and a new Dominick's store, all of which will bring in new riders to the CTA. This newly rebuilt station entrance will make it more convenient for our the residents of this community." CTA President Kruesi added, "The CTA looks forward to the major reinvestment efforts that will keep us busy for years to come as we improve our transit system for the customers of this region."