March 29, 2004

Rehabilitated Kedzie Station Has State-Of-The-Art, Customer-Friendly Amenities

The Chicago Transit Authority's $482.6 million renovation of the Cermak (Douglas) branch of the Blue Line continues to make headway with the completion of the fifth of eight stations slated for renovation. Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown and CTA President Frank Kruesi joined elected officials today to officially reopen the CTA's newly renovated Kedzie station, located at 1944 S. Kedzie, in the North Lawndale neighborhood.

?This $482.6 million project is not just an investment in new stations and new tracks, but an investment in this community," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole L. Brown. "We believe the improved service and customer amenities will have a positive economic impact on communities along this portion of the Blue Line for many years to come."

"Re-opening this station is an important milestone for the CTA and for the people in this neighborhood," stated CTA President Frank Kruesi. "This modern station symbolizes our commitment to provide on-time, clean, safe and friendly service for the customers all along this line. A well-maintained public transit system represents increased opportunities for the future of a community, and that is what we are celebrating here today."

The state-of-the-art, accessible station offers a number of customer-friendly amenities including two entrances. The main entrance to the stationhouse is on the west side of Kedzie, with an auxiliary entrance and exit located on the east side of Kedzie, providing convenient access to the station.

For customer comfort, the new center platform features benches, overhead heaters and enhanced lighting. Canopies have been installed to protect customers from the elements. Station signs and a public address system help customers navigate the station and receive travel information.

With a newly installed elevator, escalator, wheelchair turnstile, TTY telephones, tactile edging and Braille signs, the Kedzie station becomes the eighth station on the Cermak (Douglas) branch to be accessible to people with disabilities.

Before the rehabilitation project began, only three of the 11 stations along the branch were accessible: Polk, 18th Street and Cicero. When the project is completed a year from now, all 11 stations along the branch will be accessible.

In addition to the new customer amenities, CTA also incorporated historical features. The original stationhouse fa?ade was restored and incorporated into the new stationhouse and a portion of the historic canopy hangs over the east end of the platform.

"Three stations ? California, Western and Damen ? will be completed and re-opened to customers in the coming months," added Kruesi. ?With 10 months to go to project completion, our efforts will also focus on finishing the signal and communications upgrades, completing the new substation and installing two new escalators at the Polk station. We will also be doing work to enhance service and safety on the branch by reinforcing the foundations of roughly 55 grade crossings. While much of the remaining work will not be as highly visible as the station and track work has been, these elements are critical to operating a fully functional branch for our customers."

The CTA has exceeded its Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) contract goal of 35 percent for the Blue Line Rehabilitation Project with 37.3 percent DBE contracts.

Prior to the rehabilitation, the elevated portion of the Cermak (Douglas) branch was over 100 years old and well beyond its useful life. Despite efforts to maintain the system, the overall condition had deteriorated to a point that permanent slow zones were present throughout more than half of the track.

Slow zones required trains to operate as slow as 15 mph instead of the normal 55 mph. A trip from 54th/Cermak to downtown could take as long as 45 minutes before construction began. That same trip will take less than 25 minutes when the rehabilitation is completed.

The project involves reconstructing eight stations ? 54th/Cermak, Kostner, Pulaski, Central Park, Kedzie, California, Western and Hoyne ? and replacing the track and support structure.

The CTA has completed installation of the foundations for the vertical support columns, steel and concrete columns, and track and girder spans. The five newly accessible and renovated stations that have reopened are Kostner, Pulaski, 54th/Cermak, Central Park and now at Kedzie.

The branch has remained open for service throughout the project. Track and structure work was performed on weekends when the branch was not in operation.

The project, which began September 10, 2001, will be completed by January 31, 2005. Kiewit/Delgado, AJV (A Joint Venture), of Elgin, is overseeing the construction portion of the project.

The project was funded through a Full Funding Grant Agreement with the federal government and locally through Illinois FIRST, the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).

The Cermak (Douglas) branch is 6.6 miles long and provides rapid transit service to Pilsen, Heart of Chicago, Little Village, Lawndale and the town of Cicero. It serves as a vital link to the Chicago Loop and the Illinois Medical District where medical centers such as Rush University, John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, University of Illinois, St. Anthony's, Mount Sinai and Veterans? Administration Hospital, are located.

The Blue Line is the CTA's second busiest rail line after the Red Line. In January 2004, a total of 109,984 rides were taken on an average weekday and 7,280 of those rides provided by the Cermak (Douglas) branch.

The Chicago Transit Authority is the nation's second largest public transit system, serving Chicago and 40 suburbs. On a daily basis CTA provides 1.5 million rides to Chicago and the 40 suburbs, with a service area that covers nearly all of Cook County. Nearly two million customers use some combination of CTA, Pace and Metra to get to and from destinations throughout the six county region. The CTA is committed to meeting the transportation needs of the region by providing quality and affordable transit service for all of our customers.

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