RED AND BROWN LINES BECOMING ‘GREEN’

September 11, 2002
9/11/02

CTA Replacing Worn Railroad Ties with Sustainable Composite Plastic

Committed to contributing to the greening of the City of Chicago and a healthy environment for CTA customers, Chicago Transit Board today approved the purchase of approximately 2,300 environmentally friendly composite plastic railroad ties. CTA will use the plastic ties to replace worn creosote soaked wooden ties at various locations on the Brown and Red Lines.

High-density polyethylene (HDPE) offers both performance and environmental advantages. The plastic ties resist decay, insect attack and water absorption and do not require the use of toxic preservatives. Wood ties require creosote treatments to extend the service life of wood especially in certain harsh climates.

?We have made great strides in our effort to be more conscious of our surrounding environment," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett. ?While wood has long been the standard for railroad ties, several factors including increased wear and environmental concerns have been key factors in our decision to switch to a recyclable plastic alternative on the CTA system."

?To date, CTA has installed the largest number of plastic composite ties of any public transit agency in the country, said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?Our system has 650,000 total railroad ties in use, and with the completion of this contract, we will have replaced a total of 22,300 wood ties with plastic."

As a result of a competitive bid process the board approved an $876,568 purchase from the U. S. Plastic Lumber Corporation (USPL), which manufactures plastic lumber, packaging and other products from recycled plastic. Headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, with one of three plastic manufacturing facilities located in Chicago, USPL is the nation's largest producer of 100 percent HDPE recycled plastic lumber.

An additional opportunity to convert wooden ties to plastic will exist later this year when the CTA will work with USPL to create new plastic ties for use in the rehabilitation of the Cermak (Douglas) Branch of the Blue Line. Recycled plastic material ? to be collected from community residents living near and benefiting from the new and improved Line ? will go in to making the new ties for the rehabilitated Line.

Other CTA initiatives to operate in an environmentally friendly manner include plans to purchase up to 20 hybrid buses to reduce emissions; plans to install a rooftop garden at its Clifton substation; installation of energy efficient lighting at maintenance facilities; and the current operation of low emission non-revenue vehicles with a directive to purchase future autos and vans capable of using ethanol-based fuel.

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