February 7, 2000

The CTA renewed its commitment to finding innovative and environmentally friendly ways to operate its service Monday by ordering thousands of plastic ties for use on its rail system. A contract approved by the CTA Board at its monthly meeting will provide more than 26,000 ties for tracks on the Forest Park (Congress) Branch of the Blue Line.

"As an agency that serves the public, we take very seriously our obligation to protect the environment every way we can," said CTA Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett. "Using recyclable plastic instead of wood for ties is just one of the steps we have taken as responsible corporate citizens. We were also the first transit agency in the world to test pollution-free fuel cell buses as an alternative to the continuing use of fossil fuels."

Railroad ties have traditionally been made of wood. With the supply of hardwood gradually shrinking and environmental regulations becoming more stringent, the CTA two years ago began experimenting with ties made of recycled plastic. Plastic ties are expected to last about twice as long as creosote lumber ties before they have to be replaced.

Plastic ties are twice as strong as wood, and do not decay. They can also be recycled, while wood ties have no further use and must be disposed of. It takes the equivalent of about 1,000 plastic milk bottles to make one tie, so the ties CTA is ordering could result in the recycling of 26 million milk bottles for more productive use.

CTA President Frank Kruesi said, "The plastic ties we began using on selected segments of the Blue Line in 1998 have shown no signs of deterioration, no loss of alignment or gauge widening, and no significant difference in noise levels as trains pass over. We now plan to install them on the Forest Park Branch of the Blue Line from Racine to Pulaski.

A $2,382,979 contract to manufacture the 26,482 plastic ties required for the project was awarded by the CTA Board Monday to Polywood, Inc., of Edison, New Jersey, which was the lowest responsive bidder.

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