Escalators Added to Fullerton and Belmont Renovations
Today CTA officials announced that the construction work to realign the tracks at the Belmont and Fullerton Brown Line stations will be accelerated, allowing the agency to restore the southbound track to service by the end of 2008, six months earlier than previously announced. Southbound Brown, Red and Purple Express trains have been limited to one southbound track at Belmont and Fullerton since March 30 while the platforms are being rebuilt and tracks reconfigured to allow room for the installation of elevators at both stations. As a result of three-track operation, CTA has supplemented bus service near the stations and added personnel and signage in an effort to assist affected customers.
"We compared what it would cost to accelerate the construction schedule against what the additional costs are for adequately supporting three-track operation," said CTA President Ron Huberman. "Accelerating the construction schedule will cost $1.6 million that will come out of capital funds for the Brown Line project budget, but it will reduce our operating costs since we are currently providing supplemental bus service and have additional staff deployed to the corridor to support three-track operation. Most importantly it will restore normal service for our customers sooner than expected."
Although the acceleration will cost $1.6 million, it will be offset by projected ridership gains valued at $1 million and by operational savings of $ 800,000.
"Throughout construction we have been committed to finding the best way to complete the work and minimize the inconvenience to our customers," said Carole Brown, Chicago Transit Board Chairman. "Adding eight-car service to the Brown Line earlier than anticipated has been a great benefit for riders impacted by three-track operation and the opportunity to adjust the construction schedule and end three track earlier than we planned is great news for customers."
In addition, the CTA announced that it will add escalators to the Belmont and Fullerton stations. The original plans provided space for future installation of escalators but because the project remains within its budget and on schedule the CTA has determined that there are sufficient funds to install two escalators at each station. The escalator installation is scheduled to be completed by December 2009.
"These are two of the busiest stations and escalators will help customers more easily access the stations," added Huberman.
The first phase of three-track operation began Monday, April 2, 2007. Red, Brown and Purple Express trains shared one northbound track at Fullerton and Belmont while the platforms were rebuilt and tracks were reconfigured to allow room for the installation of elevators at both stations. Normal northbound service resumed in March 2008.
On an average weekday just over 108,000 rides are provided on the north branch of the Red Line, 66,000 on the Brown Line when traffic at the Belmont and Fullerton stations are added in, and 10,000 rides provided by the Purple Express service, not including Evanston.
# # #