CTA Officials Remind Customers of Upcoming Southport Closing And Three-Track Operation

March 21, 2007

Chicago Transit Authority officials gathered today at the Southport station on the Brown Line to remind customers that beginning Monday, April 2 the Southport station on the Brown Line will temporarily close for renovation. Officials also provided updated information regarding the upcoming switch to three-track operations at the Belmont and Fullerton stations.

The Southport station will temporarily close for 12 months while construction crews work to upgrade and extend platforms, rebuild the stationhouse and make the station accessible to customers with disabilities. The adjacent stations ? Paulina and Belmont ? will remain open during the temporary closure of the Southport station so customers may continue to use them to access Brown Line service.

When the Southport station re-opens next year customers will have a new stationhouse and platform with a new elevator and an accessible turnstile that will allow customers with disabilities to use the station. In addition, wider stairways, additional turnstiles and improved entrances and exits will allow for a better flow of customer traffic. When the entire project is completed in 2009, longer platforms will allow eight-car trains to berth at each station on the Brown Line, which will allow many more customers to board. Currently the platforms along the Brown Line are only able to accommodate six-car trains. Other improvements include security cameras, brighter lighting, tactile edging on the platforms and upgraded public address systems.

"Although temporary closure of this station will inconvenience some customers, the end result will be an improved facility and service for all of our customers," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?The reopening of the Francisco, Kimball, Kedzie and Rockwell stations allow customers to see firsthand the types of improvements they can expect to see as a result of CTA's investment in its rail system."

The Southport station is located in an area where existing CTA service is plentiful. In addition to nearby rail stations, there are six existing CTA bus routes that provide service near Southport station on weekdays and weekends, the #9 Ashland, #11 Lincoln/Sedgwick, #22 Clark, #77 Belmont, #152 Addison and the #X9 Ashland Express (weekday service until 7 p.m.).

Signs with the upcoming closure date and information on alternate service for Southport are posted at the station and on Brown Line trains, as well as at the Paulina and Belmont stations. Information on the temporary closure, available service and overall project is also available on CTA's web site, www.transitchicago.com, or at www.ctabrownline.com.

Work will continue to be scheduled so that no two adjacent stations are closed at the same time on weekdays. Temporary closures are necessary in order to have the type of access needed to extend platforms, make stations accessible, stay within budget and keep the project on schedule.

Officials also reminded customers that as part of the Brown Line project, three-track operation will begin in April at the Belmont and Fullerton stations. CTA has been testing the reliability of the newly installed signals and switches throughout Clark Junction, the rail corridor between Armitage and Addison where Brown, Red and Purple Express trains merge. The next step, which will occur on select evenings and nights this week and next, is to increase the number of trains put through in a given time period. CTA is doing this to more closely approximate rush hour loads and fully test the ability of the interlockings to manage a volume of traffic consistent with that planned for three-track.

During three-track operation, trains serving the Belmont and Fullerton stations will have to share three tracks instead of four to allow construction crews the necessary space to install elevators at each station and widen the platforms to make the stations accessible.

"We held three community meetings so far this month to provide details of our proposed plan to our customers, to answer their questions and to get some of their creative ideas and recommendations," added Kruesi. ?We are taking a look at the ideas presented at these meetings to determine if they might further enhance what we have proposed so far."

Kruesi added that one additional meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 26 at CTA Headquarters located at 567 W. Lake Street from 6 to 8 p.m.

Operating trains on one less track at Belmont and Fullerton will allow the CTA to keep both stations open and maintain rail service during construction but will result in more crowded trains and longer commutes for customers on the Brown Line, Purple Line Express and north branch of the Red Line, particularly during the evening commute.

CTA is encouraging customers to take a look at their travel patterns and experiment with some adjustments ? maybe switching to bus service, or leaving earlier or later from work, or making a connection that would help speed their trips, or a combination of all of these.

Starting this week, CTA Information Specialists are being deployed at various rail stations to provide customers with CTA maps and brochures so that they can familiarize themselves with alternate travel options. Alternate service signs are also being posted at Brown, Red and Purple Express stations and on rail cars and bus routes serving the North Side.

Station specific information related to three-track operation and details on the Brown Line capacity expansion project is also available on CTA's web site, www.transitchicago.com, and the Brown Line web site, www.ctabrownline.com.

The area impacted by three track operation has an extensive bus network that complements rail service. In addition to the Red, Brown and Purple Express Lines, there are more than 40 bus routes that could be used as alternate transportation, including nine lakefront express routes that provide direct service to and from the Loop during rush periods. In addition to recommending that rail customers consider travelingearlier, later or using an alternate route, the CTA proposes to increase bus service on several routes that serve the same area as the Brown Line. CTA will monitor and adjust supplemental service as needed throughout three-track operation.

As part of the $530 million Brown Line capacity expansion project platforms will be lengthened to accommodate eight-car trains instead of the six-car trains currently in use, which will allow many more customers to board. In addition, stations will be made accessible to customers with disabilities by installing ramps or elevators and accessible turnstiles. The stations themselves will be rebuilt, with wider stairways, additional turnstiles and improved entrances and exits to allow for a better flow of customer traffic. The project is scheduled for completion on December 31, 2009.

Operating between downtown and the Northwest Side, the Brown Line was originally constructed in two phases, opening for service in 1900 and 1907. The line is the third busiest of CTA's rail lines, serving more than 66,000 customers each weekday, with 19 stations from Kimball on the north to the downtown Chicago Loop.

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