September 14, 2002

First Anniversary Finds $483 Million Project On Schedule and On Budget

A 120,000 pound steel girder was carefully lifted into place over Ogden Avenue today as Mayor Richard M. Daley and CTA officials heralded the progress of the CTA's $482.6 million Cermak (Douglas) Blue Line Rehabilitation Project. September 10 marked one year since the official launch of rehab work on the 100-year-old line. Officials were happy to report the largest capital improvement project ever undertaken by the CTA is proceeding on schedule and on budget.

Chicago Transit Board Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett, CTA President Frank Kruesi and Alderman Michael Chandler, 24th Ward, joined the Mayor to witness the installation of the 160-foot by eight-and-a-half foot steel girder positioned over Ogden Avenue just west of Central Park Avenue. The mammoth structure is one of two of its size, the largest of the project.

?I?d like to thank the strong leadership of CTA Chairman Valerie Jarrett and CTA President Frank Kruesi, who have overseen an era of unprecedented growth in CTA ridership," said Mayor Daley. ?With continued cooperation at the federal, state and local level, we will continue to invest in CTA's infrastructure in order to meet future ridership needs and provide customers with a safe, reliable and affordable option to driving."

?Mayor Daley stood with us one year ago this week to officially launch the reconstruction of the Cermak Branch of the Blue Line," said Frank Kruesi, CTA President. ?I want to again thank him, Governor Ryan, U.S. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and other elected officials who have made this possible. What you are witnessing here will lead to a greater degree of on time, clean, safe and friendly service for CTA customers."

CTA Board Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett said, "Upon completion, Blue Line customers will reap the benefits of a fully transformed branch that offers faster, smoother rides and accessibility to customers with disabilities. Completion of this work will cut overall travel time from the terminal at 54th to downtown from the current 40 to 45 minutes to about 25 minutes."

Upon completion, which is scheduled for fall 2005, approximately 130,000 tons of structural steel will have been installed, five miles of elevated track and ties will have been replaced and eight stations renovated or upgraded. The rehabilitated line will also boast a new cab signal system for train operations and new automatic highway grade crossings at 10 intersections.

Stations will have elevators and other amenities to make them fully accessible to customers with disabilities. In addition, platform canopies and windbreaks with overhead heaters will protect customers waiting for trains in inclement weather. There will be customer assistant kiosks and seats for customers waiting for buses.

The Blue Line Cermak (Douglas) Branch continues to remain in operation during the project. The contractor, Kiewit/Delgado, performs most 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 utilities, is performed on weekdays.

The Cermak (Douglas) branch of the Blue Line runs along 6.6 miles of track parallel to Cermak Road from the terminal at 54th/Cermak, east to Paulina where it turns north and meets the Forest Park (Congress) Branch at Harrison Street. Deteriorating track conditions over the years have caused nearly 60 percent of the branch to be designated as 'slow zones." Slow zones require trains to travel at 15 m.p.h. rather than the normal 55 m.p.h.

Overall, the Blue Line is the CTA's second busiest rail line, averaging 122,376 passengers per weekday in 2002 (January through July). The Cermak (Douglas) Branch provides an average of 8,902 rides on a weekday basis.

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