August 19, 2003
The Chicago Transit Authority opened the newly renovated terminal and station at 54th/Cermak for customer use on Monday, August 18. The facility opened as part the CTA's $482.6 million investment in rehabilitating the Cermak (Douglas) branch of the Blue Line, the CTA's largest capital improvement project to date. It is the second of eight rail facilities to undergo reconstruction as part of the Blue Line rehabilitation which, upon completion, will bring faster, smoother and more reliable rapid transit service to customers along the Cermak (Douglas) Branch.

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 midway 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, is functional and features benches, overhead heaters and enhanced lighting that add to the comfort of CTA passengers as they wait to board their trains. Canopies have been installed to protect customers from the elements.

A ramp, wheelchair turnstile, TTY telephones 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.

The newly reconstructed terminal ? where trains begin and end their trips along this portion of the Blue Line ? will also allow the CTA to expand its rail yard at 54th/Cermak. The new rail yard will have the capacity to hold 100 rail cars - up from 88 rail cars - and will include a new transportation center, rail car washer, track and signal maintenance building and switchman's building -- all of which are due to be completed in October.

As of August 1, 85 percent of the Cermak (Douglas) Rehabilitation Project is complete with the following work in place: caissons, or foundations for the vertical support columns, caisson caps, steel and concrete columns, steel and concrete bents, and track and girder spans.

Going forward, the CTA will concentrate its efforts on:

- opening the six remaining stations;

- completing track replacement, column adjustment and painting;

- finishing the signal/communications work;

- building the substations; completing the track maintenance, transportation and yard office buildings at 54th Yard; and

- working to place community art at the newly constructed stations.

The project, which began in the fall of 2001, will be completed in 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, more than 100 years old and provides rapid transit service to the neighborhoods of Pilsen, Heart of Chicago, Little Village, Lawndale and the town of Cicero, and serves as a vital link to various medical centers such as Rush Presbyterian-St. Luke's, Cook County, University of Illinois, St. Anthony's, Mount Sinai and Veteran's Administration Hospitals.

The branch continues to operate during the week while construction work is in progress. Track work is completed on weekends when the branch is not in service. During station rehabilitation, customers used a temporary station located on Laramie Avenue. The temporary station entrance has closed in conjunction with the opening of the newly reconstructed terminal.

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 7,846 rides; O'Hare, 65,033 rides; Dearborn Subway, 25,690 rides and Forest Park (Congress), 22,986 rides. On an average weekday, 1,270 customers are served by the 54th/Cermak terminal.

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 143 bus routes.

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