New details on CTA Red Line north station rehab project

Here's an update on the CTA's "Red North Station Interim Improvements" gleaned from public meetings held over the last week by the CTA and the 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore and 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman.

Bryn Mawr station improvements with CTA, TIF funds. In the original RFP for this work, the Bryn Mawr station was included in the project. Then Alderman Osterman asked the CTA to take it out and include Berwyn instead. Last week Osterman said he want a "larger scale project" at Bryn Mawr, and got a $15 million commitment from the CTA to do just that. He also plans to supplement that pot of money with Tax Increment Financing money. Osterman also promised that the station would be accessible to the disabled. Stay tuned for more on this, but don't expect to see any work till 2013 2014.

Details on work at each station. Since I posted my original story last week on details for station closings, the CTA has published PDFs of the detail on the work at each of the seven station. So check out the extent of the work to be done at your station.

Some commercial space rehab. The CTA will do some exterior rehab of storefronts under the seven stations, including new glass and entrance doors. The repairs of the trackbed will stop water from leaking into some vacant commercial spaces, notably at Lunt and the south side of Morse. At the Jarvis station, the CTA plans to pull out two small commercial spaces on either side of the cramped station house and expand it.

New shutdown schedule for Morse, Jarvis? Speaking of Jarvis, Alderman Moore today announced he has asked the CTA to consider swapping closure dates for Morse and Jarvis. Morse is scheduled to close June 29 and Jarvis on Nov. 9. But the concern is that the summer closing will negatively impact the Glenwood Sunday Market, which is held adjacent to the L embankment between Morse and Lunt. Also, the Glenwood Arts Fest is set to begin on Morse Avenue Aug. 17, just one week after contractors are supposed to be finished at Morse. Moore is understandably concerned about work schedules slipping. The CTA made no promises to Moore except that they would look at the schedule. More on that later.

New communications systems. These seven stations will be the first to get the CTA's newest communications systems. They include and improved public address system. Workers will install the infrastructure needed to support LED monitors with next-train arrival times. Later in the year other crews will install them.

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  • The source of the money funneled through CTA to Bryn Mawr isn't stated, and I don't know if TIF projects have a specified useful service life, but putting in the money to make Bryn Mawr accessible, as well as the work at Wilson is certainly going to constrain any other alternative on the north side, so it just looks like spending money to keep the consultants going is a waste of federal funds, up to now sanctioned by the feds.

  • Improved PA system (or "New customer communication system" as it says on the CTA's page).

    I think you buried the lead!

    A new PA system, plus the installation of next-train-arriving displays, may finally put an end to the problem of passengers on the platform being none the wiser about what the issue is, after hearing 30 seconds of "mfmbl bfzzts rtfffg pwxxm." Even more important, it signals that someone at the CTA finally got what we've been pointing out for years, that communication is not something that can any longer be dismissed as unimportant to operations.

    Now let's just hope they know better than to botch the specs or the selection of supplier.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    Perhaps I did bury the lead CC. But I think I'm just a little skeptical based on past performance. Let's wait and see!

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    Not quite sure if this is related to your Red Line post of last Monday, or the above about the communications system.

    Anyway, a chicagobus.org contributor posted a similar story about how CTA apparently got some word out about the service disruption caused by the apparent suicide on the Brown Line, but apparently not a consistent message to the customer service reps and the bus drivers on the parallel 81 Lawrence route.

    As I thereafter said, I'm not in a position to judge the CTA's response, but there seem to be two issues (a) if any announcement is audible, which might be corrected by changing the PA equipment, and (b) whether CTA can formulate a coherent response to what has become repetitive incidents.

  • In reply to jack:

    Thanks for sharing Jack.

    BTW, over at chicagobus.org, you said that my brother works for the CTA IT on some projects. That's not true. Just wanted to set the record straight.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    I knew he wasn't on the employee list. I thought he might have been an independent contractor, from your references, but if not, sorry.

  • In reply to jack:

    New equipment may help, but coherence requires adult supervision and having some appropriate plans in place. Announcement content still has to be true and make sense. (Unlike, say, "doors closing" before the doors open, or before people are finished getting off a train.) As Kevin said: We'll see.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    My impression is that the "doors closing" announcements are controlled by the operators. However, as you indicate, the control center's apparent inability to formulate a coherent response and communicate it to the field seems like the more important problem, especially since there should have been a plan in place, and certainly one should be put into place after three similar incidents, two of which had obvious effects on service and passengers.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    I'm calling in complaints about operators hitting the "Door closing" announcement when the doors haven't even fully opened about one every two weeks.
    And since I ride the L only once or twice a week, that's a hell of a lot of them doing it!

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