CTA's Claypool shows off a trainload of construction, repair and rehab projects

The Tribune's Getting Around column Monday noted that "the perennially cash-starved CTA is displaying a subtle change in attitude: Doomsday talk is out, replaced by a glass that, although leaky, is half full."

CTA President Forrest Claypool actually is being even more positive, as shown in a presentation he gave earlier this year to the Chicago chapter of the Construction Management Association of America.

When you see all that the CTA is doing to improve and rehab its tracks and stations, it really is impressive. Here are some of the details from that presentation:

"Renew Crews" are spending $25 million from savings found in materials and personnel to rehab 100 rail stations under the Station Renewal Program. the program features deep cleaning of interior and exterior station elements, graffiti removal, lighting and signage improvements, and other minor repairs. Scheduled for completion by winter of 2012.

A $1 billion investment in the Red Line, including:

  • Track work on the Dan Ryan branch to eliminate slows zones, which currently afflict about 30 percent of that area. In 2013, all slow zones along this 10-mile stretch of track will be addressed as part of the Dan Ryan Track Renewal project, which will rebuild the tracks from just north of the Cermak/Chinatown station to the 95th/Dan Ryan station. As part of this same project, work also will include station improvements (lighting upgrades, painting, canopy repairs, bike racks, etc.) at the nine stations along the branch.
  • The Red North Station Interim Improvements project, a $57 million "design-build" rehab of seven stations at the north end of the Red Line. CTA is integrating rehabilitation of stations with other amenities including IT and customer communication enhancements.
  • The $150 million Wilson station reconstruction. The new transfer station will be fully accessible.

On the Blue Line, the CTA repaired slow zones and stations from Damen to Logan Square.

The Loop track renewal, a $33 million project scheduled for completion in spring of 2013.

Purple Line viaducts repair at Greenleaf, Dempster and Grove. Includes replacement of existing concrete viaducts with new steel bridge spans and rehab of existing retaining walls. Cost is $14 million.

Station rehab projects. Late last year CDOT and the CTA completed the rebuild of the Grand/State station on the Red Line for $67 million.

Next up is the Clark and Division station, which will include a new accessible entrance at LaSalle/Division. Construction on the $102 million project will begin this summer and end in 2014.

Construction will start in 2013 on a new station at Cermak on the Green Line. It's budgeted at $50 million.

A new, $75 million elevated station on Wabash Avenue at Washington Street on the Brown/Pink/ Green/Orange lines.

Finally, the Morgan Street station on the Pink and Green Lines will open sometime this fall.

Ya gotta admit, that's a lot of projects.


Leave a comment
  • While there seems to be several editions of Hilkevitch's column, the one accessed through the link still says:

    Just last week, RTA Executive Director Joe Costello made the unsubstantiated claim that Chicago-area rail riders will encounter more delays and longer commutes this summer because Congress approved only a 90-day short-term funding extension for highways and mass transit instead of passing new transportation funding legislation extending multiple years.

    Note Jon's use of the term "unsubstantiated." Yet you bought it when complaining that the consultants' money would be cut off.

    So, Forrest was told to put on a happy face. But, among other things not mentioned was a Tribune editorial on March 28 that only about 1/3 of the Illinois capital bill could be bonded out, because, among other things, using video poker as a funding source will not work out, for three reasons, not to mention their prior point that this is too complicated for the Gaming Board to get off the ground. So, as usual, Quinn may have made appearances, including at the Dan Ryan L, to announce projects when the state's pocket book can't back up his big mouth.

    In the meantime, there isn't evidence that all the Durbin grants, such as for the 40 or so articulated hybrid buses, or even the 2 electric buses, have materialized (there was a request for proposals last Nov. for the latter, but no announcement that a contract was awarded).

    So, the Mayor better hope that he has enough TIF and parking garage tax money to do what he says he will.

  • So when is the Oakton Station in Skokie going to open.
    They broke ground for it in May 2010, almost two years ago!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Scooter, their website says this Spring, but no exact date given. Here's an update on their progress and based on this site, they seem pretty close.


  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Who's building this - CTA or Skokie? You say "they" - is this a CTA project or is it being built by Skokie? Who is paying?

  • In reply to anon:

    Skokie. Feds.

  • During the time the Red Line track is being rehabilitated in 2013, there will be no CTA 'L' service south of either 63rd or 69th St for about 5 months - they plan to replace it with shuttle buses on State St. and Lafayette Ave.

    I smell disaster, and I will be promoting a rail alternative starting at the final CDOT Corridor Study meeting coming soon.

  • Mike and Jack: I asked the CTA this morning about the rumored station closings. I was told: "CTA is still determining the construction phasing of the Dan Ryan project; no plans are finalized. More project info should be available in the next several weeks."

  • How great to see my three favorite CTA naysayers come out in full force as soon as I mention that the CTA is actually doing some good stuff for riders.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    The real question is whether CTA is going to do anything for riders, or whether we get the usual Homer Simpson result.

    I know you (and apparently now the Tribune Editorial Board) believe everything Quinn says, but he now has a track record especially when it comes to money. Ask any doctor in this state.

    And since Mike brings up this rumor that someone else doggedly persists posting on chicagobus.org, maybe the journalist in you should check it out. [Except that guy said Roosevelt with trains diverted to the Green Line.]

    So, even though Forrest was told to play Mr. Happy, some of us are not deluded.

  • In reply to jack:


  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    Kevin, I find that some people will always focus on the negative.

  • In reply to chris:

    Well, Chris, if you live on the south side, I sure hope you enjoy the service shutdown indicated by the rumor mill, and to which the presentation might allude.

    After all, there has been a constant pattern of CTA mismanagement over the past decade that has brought the system to the state it is now in.

  • In reply to jack:


    I don't live on the south side, but I certainly feel for anyone who is affected by a potential shutdown. Regardless of past performance, I think it is exciting to see new stations being built, old ones fixed up/rebuilt, etc. Like I said you focused on the potential negative...

  • In reply to chris:

    Heck, even Hilkevitch didn't buy the hokum, and that's a change.

    "Regardless of past peformance" is just putting your head in the sand. With whart I said below about the substations, can any rational person believe that even after this money is spent, if it is, CTA will be in a state of good repair? Even the Red Line?

  • In reply to jack:

    I see. So there is NOTHING good here? Just all negative from your view huh?

  • In reply to chris:

    Actions speak louder than words. But you and Kevin believe the politicians.

    Get back to me when CTA is actually in a state of good repair. Not "we fixed the stations on the Brown Line, except for two we say we are fixing now."

    In fact, get back to me when Illinois fixes the governance problems that result in the consistent lack of results.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, the CTA never said that this work would constitute the agency being in a "state of good repair." The CTA all along has said it would need about $6-7 billion to accomplish that. So I'm not sure what your poitn is. Is your point that the CTA shouldn't do any of this, and just wait till it gets the $6-7 billion? I hope not.

  • Anyone know more about the substation project mentioned in the presentation link? There's not much info there, just some pictures that currently show what is there. Are these replacing something or adding power/redundancy to the system?

  • In reply to chris:

    Not the technical, but given the locations of two of them (apparently there is a Hill St. in Chicago, other than Maxwell St. where the Hill Street Blues police stations was, but near North and Clybourn, and the picture you mentioned sure looks like Armitage and Sheffield, not Milwaukee), you would have thought that at least that should have been upgraded with the Brown Line project. As Sherry Bobbins and Homer both say....

  • In reply to jack:

    Hill St. is at the idiotic church turn on the Ravenswood.
    What's needed there is to move the damn church across the street & straighten the tracks out!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Across which street? The south side of Hill St?

  • In reply to chris:

    No, to the west side of Orleans.
    Or better yet, just tear the damn thing down & straighten out the tracks!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    The people who use the building might disagree with you.

    The west side of Orleans has park there from what I could tell on Google Maps.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Scooter - I don't think I would call a Church a "damn thing" - that seems to be tempting Fate.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Actually, the alignment of the Brown Line north of the church is further west than it is to the south, so there's no way to eliminate that curve, just make it more gradual.

    Rebuilding/continuing the elevated structure over Franklin north of Chicago Avenue eliminates the annoying curve there, and north of Walton Street, where Franklin ends, begin a gradual curve going north-northwest that isn't impacted by the church, and get trains to the "north of church" alignment rather quickly and directly.

  • Since we ran out of reply buttons:

    My point is that no matter how much work CTA says it does, it never even gets what is says it repairs into a state of good repair. Remember prior discussions on:

    1. The Pink Line was totally rebuilt around Kostner, but now has a structural slow zone there?

    2. $250 million was spent to remove slow zones on the Dan Ryan Red Line, but only for 7 months, and we have these pictures now?

    3. NABI?

    4. The Brown Line project being a half-assed job, with the bad planking, and apparently not all substations upgraded?

    5. The 13 buses Durbin promised about 3 years ago, but then took down the grant announcement from his website?

    Maybe CTA inspectors putting the hammer down on Bombardier indicates that they learned something, but still too much of this stuff is going on. Now, Emanuel is treating the last failure as a reason to have a new groundbreaking ceremony.

    Now, maybe Cheryl can get the $8 billion by convincing some congressman in Mississippi that not appropriating it will affect his commute, but, until the CTA and the State clean up their governance problems (and there is no indication that they will), you prove to me that it isn't just throwing money into a bottomless pit.

    Like I said, you can be a journalist and follow up on the south side closure rumor. Chris can slough that off, but I really doubt that Emanuel can take the kind of political hit that would cause.

    Is this that hard to figure out? Or should I just be Pollyanna and bow down at the Church of the Holy Claypool (or even Isaiah Emanuel Temple)?

  • In reply to jack:

    You're not following too closely Jack. I already followed up on the South Sie closure rumor.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    Scrolling up, I see that is under Reply to Gray Line Project, so I'll pass.

  • In reply to jack:

    The Blue Line slow zones were fixed to a good state of repair. The 4 track stations at Belmont and Fullerton don't seem to be falling down. Never is a strong word.

  • In reply to chris:

    For how long, especially with Belmont and Fullerton, since other parts of the Brown Line are already out of repair? Are they going to live out their 40 year FTA life without the need of any further major work?

    Even if they do, that sure doesn't overcome all the massive failures I listed. I suppose someone will tell me that other transit authorities went through something similar to the NABI episode in the past 10 years.

  • In reply to jack:

    What a cop out! So now you're essentially admitting they are in a good state of repair, but doubting if they will last 40 years.

    You said NEVER and I proved the mighty Jack wrong!

  • In reply to chris:

    No you didn't.

    I thought I was replying here, when I was replying in the next thread, but look at my reply there.

    The Mighty Chris says that the NABIs are all in a state of good repair? Can you asssure us that there are no latent defects at the two stations you mentioned? NOPE.

  • In reply to jack:

    Nor can you confirm that there ARE latent defects! All we know is there is nothing wrong with them that has been noticed or reported which leads most people to believe they are in a state of good repair.

    So yes, I did.

  • In reply to chris:

    This is becoming idiotic.

    Let me make it clear.

    Kevin wanted me to clarify what I meant by when I said CTA is never going to be in a state of good repair. I did. Then you jumped on that I only criticize the exemplary public servants at the CTA.

    CTA has a "track record" [both figuratively and literally--ride the Dan Ryan Line] and in fact a very bad one, about its stewardship of public money and construction oversight. Yet, I'm supposed to kneel at the altar of Sts. Frank and Forrest, and pray that nothing else they have touched, other than what I listed above, isn't going to fall apart?

    And, as I said, the FTA has a 40 year service life for that stuff. 2 years doesn't prove anything.

    If you want to shift the burden of proof, TELL ME ONE THING FRANK KRUESI did competently, other than rip up Meigs Field.

  • In reply to jack:

    You can't have it both ways Jack. You're only upset because you're wrong (and the CTA has done a poor job). Specifically I quote you:

    "My point is that no matter how much work CTA says it does, it never even gets what is says it repairs into a state of good repair."

    You can't point out all the spots where they screwed up and then also point to all the places where there is no proof that a good job wasn't done and say "2 years doesn't prove anything." Because in that scenario, you can never be wrong. At what point would you consider it a good state of repair? 38 more years?

    We don't know if the Willis Tower is going to fall down tomorrow either or in 10 years, but I'm going to assume it won't.

    I wasn't around for the Kreusi reign, so I can't properly comment on it.

  • In reply to jack:

    The only other transit system that's gone through anything even remotely similar to the NABI mess is the DC Metro rail, which had two rail collisions with employee & passenger fatalities & several other inexcusable fatalities of track workers.
    The rail collisions were the fault of a signal system with several parts failing & managers overriding & ignoring the problem. The failed parts were the sensors telling the system that there was a train in that block, they didn't work, gave a false signal that the block was clear & bang!
    They also had & still have a problem with their 1000 series cars, the oldest in their fleet, as they are not up to surviving a collision & crumpled unexpectedly when that did happen. Their current solution was to move all the 1000 series cars to the middle of the trains, so that they won't be the ones actually struck.
    They had to run much of the system "on sight" for a while & may still be doing so with parts of it.
    The track worker deaths were the fault of a serious lack of safety training for all operating employees & if I remember the Wash Post articles correctly, the dispatchers weren't telling the motormen that there were even track inspectors on the ROW, which caused a couple of them to get run over by trains going far too fast to stop in time after seeing the employees on the ROW. I believe the insectors were also walking the tracks in the same direction as the trains, so they also never saw them coming.
    There were a number of firings & resignations of top managment, including the overall boss.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    In connection with Bombardier, various forums mention a NYC Bombardier order that had truck problems, 40 years or so ago.

    I previously mentioned, CTA apparently learned enough to get a QC crew to Bombardier to detect the problems with the 5000s.

    Also, taking the NABIs and 5000s out of service shows that CTA is concerned about passenger safety, which, from your description, WMATA isn't. CTA has been having signal problems at Howard, but at least it told Alstom to replace the parts and canceled trains.

    We can probably add the two Metra wrecks at 47th St. to the disregard for passenger safety list.

    So, I just said two good things about CTA, like the person who said I never do really cares.

    However, my prior comments were on waste of money, i.e. throwing out a fleet that originally cost $102 million, depreciated maybe to $50 m, and only when the last 50 or so buses were due, sending in the inspectors and withholding the last payment. Like I said, maybe CTA learned something from that and treated Bombardier differently, but someone here is oblivious to the legacy of the Kruesi years.

  • chris:

    If you think your are going to convince me, you are very foolish.

    I guess, by your book, the Red Line was in a state of good repair for 7 months. That isn't good enough.

    And if you can't comment on the Kruesi era, it shows that you are incapable of understanding how the CTA got to the condition in which it is today. So, your comments are totally foolish.

  • In the meantime, there was a link to a story that the usual "transit activist" suspects and the ATU were protesting against Emanuel's plan. So, I guess you can't please everyone. Maybe they can bring Blago back.

  • fb_avatar

    "the perennially cash-starved CTA " -- and yet, at the Berwyn station, the heating lamps are on and heating up Nature 24/7. Been this way for weeks. Googling around shows lots of other folks who note the same. I wonder how much energy and cash the CTA burns like this? And yes, I've notified the CTA about 6 times through different channels about it.

Leave a comment