CTA President Ron Huberman was joined by 47th Ward Alderman Gene Schulter today at the Damen Brown Line station to officially commemorate its reopening and the return of four-track operation. Saturday morning, three-track operation at Belmont will conclude and all four tracks will be restored to normal operation.
The Damen stationhouse reopened to customers this morning. The new facility was built in the same location as its predecessor, which opened for service more than 100 years ago as part of the Northwestern Elevated Railroad’s Ravenswood branch. Two elevators have been installed at Damen, making the station accessible to customers with disabilities. To date, 87 out of 144 CTA rail stations are now accessible.
"The restoration of four-track operation and the reopening of the Damen station are major milestones in the Brown Line project which will be completed at this time next year," said CTA President Ron Huberman. "Work has been completed at all but four of the 18 stations included in the capacity expansion project and the entire project continues to be on time and on budget. I’d like to thank all of our customers for their continued patience as we work to improve our facilities and service."
In addition to new elevators, the Damen station platforms were reconfigured to make them longer, wider and able to accommodate the eight-car trains that have been operating on the Brown Line since the end of March. Additional improvements include accessible turnstiles, brighter lighting, new signage – including Braille signs – and a bike rack. A new auxiliary exit was built across the street for customer convenience.
CTA has partnered with the City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs to install public art at all of the 18 stations included in the Brown Line project. The Damen station features furniture pieces created by artist Ron Baron that are installed in the historic stationhouse.
The Damen station is the fourteenth of 18 stations slated for renovation as part of the project. To date, work also has been completed at Kimball, Kedzie, Rockwell, Francisco, Western, Sedgwick, Montrose, Addison, Southport, Armitage, Diversey, Chicago and Irving Park.
A key component of the station and platform renovations as part of the Brown Line capacity expansion project is to make the stations accessible to customers with disabilities with the installation of elevators or ramps. The installation of elevators at both Belmont and Fullerton required the tracks and the platforms to be reconfigured to allow room for the elevators.
Since April 2007, one track has been removed from service – first northbound, then southbound – to allow crews to complete the necessary work and keep service operating, albeit at a reduced level.
To help ease the impact of operating on one less track, in March CTA introduced eight-car trains on the Brown Line during morning and evening rush hours. Eight-car service was implemented 18 months earlier than originally planned.
In May, CTA committed to restoring normal four-track operation six months earlier than originally planned by accelerating the construction work to realign the tracks at Belmont and Fullerton.
"Because these stations are two very busy transfer points, it was important that we keep the stations open to customers during construction," added Huberman. "Last month, all four tracks were restored to service at Fullerton. Today will be the final day of three-track operation. Tomorrow morning trains will resume normal operation on both southbound tracks, which means faster travel for customers and less congestion on the platforms."
Prior to the start of construction, the average weekday ridership at the Damen station was 2,614. Current average weekday ridership along the Brown Line is 80,000.
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