July 17, 2003

Mayor Richard M. Daley joined Chicago Transit Authority officials to hail the progress of the CTA's largest capital improvement project, the $482.6 million renovation of the Cermak (Douglas) branch of the Blue Line, by officially cutting the ribbon on the Kostner station, one of eight stations being reconstructed as part of the project.

"This station has been totally rehabilitated with one goal in mind - the comfort of the riding public," Daley said. "It's another in a series of capital improvements that are making the CTA a faster, more convenient and more pleasant form of transportation for Chicagoans."

The new Kostner station involved a complete rehabilitation of the Kildare Avenue station. The name change reflects a new main entrance at Kostner Avenue, which is a major thoroughfare and provides more convenient access for customers. Kildare Avenue, at the east end of the station, is now the secondary entrance.

The state-of-the-art, accessible station, located at 2019 S. Kostner between Cullerton and 21st streets, offers a number of customer-friendly amenities. The island platform between the northbound and southbound tracks is functional and features benches, overhead heaters and enhanced lighting that add to the comfort of CTA passengers as they wait to board their trains. Canopies have been installed to protect customers from the elements.

A ramp, wheelchair turnstile, TTY telephones and Braille signs offer accessibility for customers with disabilities. Audio/visual, station signs and a public address system are in place to help customers navigate the station and receive important travel information.

"This is an important milestone for the CTA and for the people in this neighborhood and all the neighborhoods along the Cermak (Douglas) branch of the Blue Line," stated CTA President Frank Kruesi. "This modern station symbolizes our commitment to provide on-time, clean, safe and friendly service for the customers all along this line. A well-maintained public transit system represents increased opportunities for the future of a community, and that is what we are celebrating here today."

"Today's grand opening marks the tremendous progress we have made to rebuild this branch. I am pleased to report the project is on time and on budget," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett. "The CTA is proud to bring such a large investment to these communities. The presence of quality, affordable transit services that link people, jobs and communities is an essential element in the growth and revitalization of neighborhoods."

Kruesi added, "We would like to thank Mayor Daley and the entire Illinois Congressional delegation for their continued support of public transit and the CTA in particular. Their support and assistance in securing some of the funding necessary to make improvements to our system demonstrate their commitment to helping the CTA bring its system to a state of good repair."

As of July 17, 80 percent of the Cermak (Douglas) Rehabilitation Project is complete with the following work in place: caissons, or foundations for the vertical support columns, caisson caps, steel and concrete columns, steel and concrete bents, and track and girder spans.

Going forward, the CTA will concentrate its efforts on:

- opening the seven remaining stations;

- completing track replacement, column adjustment and painting;

- finishing the signal/communications work;

- building the substations; completing the track maintenance, transportation and yard office buildings at 54th Yard; and

- working with the City and Cermak (Douglas) Community Advisory Panel to place community art at all of the stations.

The project, which began in the fall of 2001, will be completed in 2005. Kiewit/Delgado, AJV (A Joint Venture), a construction firm based in Elgin, Illinois, is overseeing the construction portion of the project.

Upon completion, CTA customers can expect faster, smoother and more reliable rapid transit service along the Cermak (Douglas) Branch. In addition, all of the stations along the branch will be 100 percent accessible.The branch continues to operate during the week while construction work is in progress. Track work is completed on weekends when the branch is not in service. During station rehabilitation, customers of the former Kildare station and the Pulaski station used a combined Pulaski/Kildare temporary station.

The temporary station west entrance has closed in conjunction with the opening of the newly reconstructed Kostner station; however, the east entrance of the temporary station will remain open for Pulaski station customers until that station's rehabilitation is complete.

In 2002, the Blue Line was the CTAs second busiest rail line after the Red Line, with a grand total of 35,622,389 rides taken. On an average weekday, the Cermak (Douglas) branch provides 7,418 rides; O'Hare, 62,426 rides; Dearborn Subway, 24,223 rides and Forest Park (Congress), 22,592 rides.

The Chicago Transit Authority is the nations second largest public transit system, serving Chicago and 40 suburbs. Each weekday, the CTA provides 1.5 million rides through a network of seven rail lines and 143 bus routes.

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