July 11, 2001
July 11, 2001

Contractor Selected, Work to Begin in August

The Chicago Transit Board at its monthly meeting today approved a $317 million construction contract for Kiewit/Delgado, AJV (A Joint Venture) to rehabilitate the Cermak (Douglas) branch of the Blue Line. Under the proposed agreement, the firm will oversee a comprehensive construction project to restore the branch so that it is 100 percent ADA compliant and allows for faster travel times from one end of the line to the other.

"This is an exciting time for the CTA," stated CTA Board Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett." Thanks to the leadership of Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, Mayor Richard M. Daley and Governor George Ryan's Illinois FIRST program, the CTA will soon be able to break ground on one of the agency's most important capital improvement projects. Our customers will reap the benefits from an improved rail system that offers better service and access to the near Southwest Side."

CTA President Frank Kruesi added, "The Blue Line renovation project is another step in our commitment to systematically rebuild our system and infrastructure so that CTA customers receive the quality transportation services they deserve. The branch will be rehabilitated with new state-of-the-art technology that will bring our rail system up to a state of good repair which will make the branch more efficient and effective for years to come."

The federal government approved a full-funding grant agreement in January to pay for the rebuilding of the Cermak (Douglas) branch. The agreement is the federal government's commitment to share the $482 million cost of reconstructing the 105-year-old rapid transit line. Under the agreement, the federal government will pay $384 million, with $80.9 million coming from Governor George Ryan's Illinois FIRST program and the balance coming from regional funding.

During the rehabilitation project, the Blue Line Cermak (Douglas) branch will remain open for service. Kiewit/Delgado, AJV will conduct the majority of the track and structure work on weekends when the branch is not in service. Work that is not at track level -- such as station house construction, electrical substation construction, foundations, bents and utility relocations -- will be performed on weekdays, with the CTA creating temporary entrances when necessary to avoid any inconvenience to its customers.

The rehabilitation project, which is expected to last through September 2005, will involve extensive work on eight CTA rail stations (six elevated and two at-grade), five miles of track, signal and communications equipment, traction power system and infrastructure rehabilitation.

Situated on Chicago's near Southwest Side, the Cermak (Douglas) branch was built between 1896 and 1912 by the Metropolitan West Side Elevated Railroad Company.

The branch stretches along 6.6 miles of track that runs parallel to Cermak Road from the terminal at 54th/Cermak east to Paulina, where it turns north and meets with the Forest Park (Congress) branch at Harrison Street ? providing service to Pilsen, Heart of Chicago, Little Village, Lawndale and the town of Cicero. The Cermak (Douglas) branch also serves as a vital link to various medical centers such as Rush Presbyterian-St. Luke's, Cook County, University of Illinois, St. Anthony's, and Veteran's Administration Hospitals.

Over the years, the condition of the Cermak (Douglas) branch deteriorated to a point that permanent 'slow zones? are present throughout more than 47% of track. Slow zones require trains to operate at 15 m.p.h. instead of the normal 55 m.p.h., making a trip from the terminal at 54th/Cermak to LaSalle take up to 35 minutes. The CTA expects the same trip to be reduced by 10 minutes upon completion of the Douglas branch rehabilitation project.

As a result of the slow zones, annual ridership on the Cermak (Douglas) branch fell 50 percent, from 5 million in 1979, to 2.5 million in 2000. While the Blue Line is the CTA's second busiest rail line after the Red Line, averaging 119,834 passengers per weekday, the Cermak (Douglas) branch provides the least amount of weekday rides (out of the four Blue Line branches) with 9,629. In contrast, O'Hare's weekday average is 63,041, followed by Dearborn Subway with 24,791 and Forest Park (Congress) with 22,372.

"Based on all these factors, there was clearly a need to rehabilitate the Douglas branch," Kruesi said. ?The extended travel time was an inconvenience to customers and they responded in kind by finding other means of transportation. We are confident that the rehabilitation will build the branch back up in terms of ridership levels and the quality of service offered."


Station Improvements:
- 6 newly rebuilt elevated stations
- New at-grade stations at 54th and Kostner
- New terminal and bus area at Pulaski Station
- ADA accessibility at all stations
- Addition of 6 elevators, 1 at each elevated station
- Addition of 8 new escalators

Signals and Communication:
- 6.6 miles of new train control signals and communication
- 6 new interlockings
- Bi-directional CAB signal system replacing outdated single direction CAB system
- New grade crossing equipment
- New fiber optic communication backbone and nodes
- Upgraded communications and audio visual signs

Traction Power System:
- 2 new electrical substations
- 3 rehabilitated substations
- Upgraded to all contact rail
- Improved power controls

Infrastructure Rehabilitation:
- Renew approximately 175 column foundations
- Install approximately 720 new caissons
- Apply protective coat to new girders
- Remove and replace approximately 350 spans of structure
- Upgrade/replace approximately 5 miles of footwalk
- Replace 5 miles of rail and ties
- Upgrade/renew special trackwork
- Renew and reconfigure 100 rail car storage yard at 54th St.
- Renew retaining wall at Keeler
- Replace 3 bridges at Western, Ogden and Keeler Avenues
- Construct new transportation maintenance building at 54th St. yard
- Reconstruct belt railway bridge

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