Today the Chicago Transit Board approved a $91 million contract for repair work on the O'Hare branch of the Blue Line to eliminate slow zones currently affecting train traffic from O'Hare to Addison. Slow zones, where trains operate at restricted speeds as a safety precaution, are in effect along slightly more than 87,000 feet or 57 percent of the track from O'Hare to Logan Square. Today's actions are part of the aggressive plan announced by CTA in July to eliminate slow zones on branches of two of its busiest rail lines ? the north branch of the Red Line and the O'Hare branch of the Blue Line. Slow zones along those routes have significantly added to travel times for riders since last summer.
CTA President Ron Huberman has recommended allocating existing bond revenue to cover the cost of the necessary repairs. ?Although our budget issues are not yet resolved, I feel that the level of frustration riders have expressed about these slow zones makes it critical to dedicate the funds we do have to improving travel times as quickly as possible," said Huberman. ?There will be disruptions to service while the work to replace the deteriorated rail ties responsible for the slow zones is completed, but it's necessary to make repairs to achieve faster trips and better service."
Repairs will require numerous late-night single tracks between stations and several weekend suspensions of rail service, just as with the work that was completed in the Dearborn subway and currently underway along the Red Line, CTA recently completed slow zone elimination work on the subway portion of the Blue Line from Damen to Clark/Lake. Work on the subway portion of the Red Line from Grand to Clark/Division and from Armitage to Diversey along the tracks shared by Brown, Red and Purple Express trains is also underway and will be completed in December.
Slow zones have been implemented for safety reasons following track inspections that found that the wooden rail ties were in poor condition and in need of replacement.
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