CTA Track and Signal Renewal Project to Upgrade Red and Brown Line Junction

May 1, 2006
05/01/06

Adding Ability to Maneuver Between Tracks Will Allow Service to Operate During Reconstruction of Belmont and Fullerton Stations

The Chicago Transit Authority has embarked on a track and signal renewal project at Clark Junction, the busy location where Brown, Red and Purple Line trains converge just north of Belmont on the City's North Side. The upgrade to the
100-year-old junction will bring new signals and additional connections between tracks to allow trains to ?cross over? to adjacent tracks. This will create the flexibility for trains to cross from track to track and continue in service around construction, disabled trains or other obstacles in the Clark Junction corridor, the area bounded by the Brown Line Southport station, Red Line Addison station and Brown Line Armitage station. The track and signal renewal project will be completed by the end of 2006.

On a typical weekday, nearly 1,000 trains pass through the corridor with approximately one train every 50 seconds during rush periods. The upgrade will enhance service reliability in the highly-traveled junction by allowing trains to cross between tracks and operate around obstacles. In addition, the increased ability to cross between tracks will allow the Belmont and Fullerton stations to remain open during rehabilitation of those stations over the next couple of years.

The reconstruction of the Belmont and Fullerton stations includes widening the northbound and southbound island platforms to accommodate more customers as well as to make room for elevators so that the stations will be accessible to customers with disabilities. Because the island platforms are each located in between two separate sets of tracks, widening the platforms requires that each set of tracks be moved farther apart. CTA will continue to provide service to the stations during track realignment by taking one set of tracks out of service at a time for construction, and maintaining service in the area on three tracks instead of four. Track realignment is scheduled at Belmont and at Fullerton late 2006 through 2008.

Maneuvering on three tracks and keeping the Belmont and Fullerton stations open during construction will be possible because of the new crossovers and signals being installed between now and the end of the year.

When the project began, there were only 12 locations where CTA trains could switch to adjacent tracks in the Clark Junction corridor. In addition to replacing 11 of the existing crossovers, the CTA is installing new crossovers at 11 additional corridor locations for a total of 22 locations where trains can switch tracks. (One old crossover has been eliminated)

The track and signal work is not only important to keeping rail service moving around construction projects, from a customer perspective, more crossovers will minimize delays caused by trains held up due to an unexpected medical emergency or disabled train on the tracks ahead. Currently, CTA has very few options in the Clark Junction corridor for working around such a situation.

?By doubling crossover locations, trains will be able to move to the adjacent tracks, travel around the obstacle, and continue in service, thus, increasing service reliability," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?The ability to maneuver around these incidents will help diminish the impact these types of delays will have on our customers."

Also important, CTA is installing a new signal system along the tracks that can be read by train operators coming from either direction. Trains will be able to switch to any of the adjacent tracks in the corridor and read signals ? no matter which direction they are traveling. Clark Tower, located at the junction, will also be rehabilitated. Clark Tower houses the switches, locks and signals necessary for routing trains through the Clark Junction corridor.

The track and signal installation work has already begun with the majority of work occurring during non rush hours and on weekends. Through the end of the year, weekend work will require taking one or two tracks out of service for a specified period of time and require CTA service to run on two or three remaining tracks. The location and duration of out of service track will vary based on the construction schedule and the complexity of the specific installation. CTA will provide weekly service information to customers and work to minimize any inconvenience or delays.

Belmont and Fullerton stations reconstruction is a part of the CTA's Brown Line capacity expansion project, which includes: the rehabilitation of 18 Brown Line stations; lengthening station platforms to accommodate eight rather than six-car trains; providing for station enhancements to meet the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and upgrading or replacing traction power, signal and communication equipment. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2009.

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