Purple Line project replaces 100-year-old viaducts

(Here's another installment in a series of posts about how Mayor Rahm Emanuel and President Forrest Claypool are building their CTA legacy with about $1 billion in capital improvements.)

The current Purple Line viaduct replacement project replaces three existing viaducts that are more than 100 years old at Greenleaf, Dempster and Grove streets in Evanston.

This weekend the CTA will roll the new viaduct into place at Greenleaf. Thus rail service along the Purple Line will be temporarily suspended from the Howard to the Davis Street station beginning at 8:30 p.m. Friday till 4 a.m. Monday.

The $15 million project includes:

  • Replacement of existing concrete viaducts at Greenleaf, Dempster, and Grove, with new, longer steel bridge spans. New bridges will include new ties, rail and ballast along with new drainage systems.
  • New sidewalks, fencing, and landscaping at each viaduct.
  • Replacing a 320-foot long timber retaining wall north of Greenleaf with new pre-cast concrete wall.
  • Rehabilitation of existing retaining walls along Chicago Avenue between South Blvd. and Madison Street, and adjacent to the Greenleaf Street viaduct (a total of 2,064 feet of wall repairs).

The project will be "substantially" completed by May 2013. The CTA has hired Kiewit Infrastructure to do this work - the same company that got a $59 million contract for the North Red Line Interim Improvement project.

Funding for the project is provided by an Illinois Department of Transportation grant through the Regional Transportation Authority.


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  • "Here's another installment in a series of posts about how Mayor Rahm Emanuel..."

    Is he going to be at the dedication, on location?

  • In reply to jack:

    What dedication?

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    I guess it doesn't pay to be oblique here.

    1. He is a publicity hog and has to be everywhere, including the unveiling of the defective Bombardier cars,* which gave all the TV stations enough real video to use when they were pulled.

    2. In that I quoted your assertion that this was Emanuel's program, Emanuel is not the mayor of Evanston. Apparently the CTA officials or hangers on realize that only when they need to real mayor of Evanston's support for a tax hike, like in 2005.

    But I guess you recognize the de facto, but not legal position of the CTA as not being the independent municipal corporation that it is by statute, but just like Streets & San and CDOT.

    In any event, if this is anyone's project, it is the project of those who pay the increased license sticker fees and increased pop, candy, and liquor taxes.

    But to summarize, Emanuel has nothing to do with this project.

    *Which did not happen at 54th Yard, because......

  • In reply to jack:

    Yeah yeah yeah - I knew exactly what you were talking about, but that's me. So I gave you the open door to write what you just did.

    Please note that I said both Rahm and Claypool were building their legacy.

    Yes, Rahm is not mayor of Evanston, Claypool is president of the CTA.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    Then the proper term would have been "or."

    Also, is the Skokie-Oakton station going to be part of that legacy? Or the 270 N. Milwaukee ART?

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    Seems like the Chicago avenue retaining wall is already done....they've been working on it for quite a while now.

  • BTW, now that most of that legacy is complete, is there going to be a series on how "Mayor Richard M. Daley and President Frank Kruesi built their CTA legacy"?

  • In reply to jack:

    Honest question... What was the last CTA president and/or mayor you (and I'm interested in Scooter's opinion too)believe did a good job running/improving/etc of the CTA? My personal experience doesn't go back that far.

  • In reply to chris:

    If you take it that the only job Rich Rodriguez was sent to do was get cuts or layoffs, he did that. He also exposed that Huberman had covered up trying to ditch the NABIs.

    However, since he didn't meet the statutory qualifications to be Executive Director, I think you have to go back to George Krambles, who rose through the ranks, and documented his and predecessors' work in CTA at 45.* Alf Savage was hired here after stints in Toronto and Buffalo, and while I was not impressed by his work in Buffalo or Chicago, at least he was qualified.

    Instead of hiring transit professionals, Daley II went down the political road of hiring Belcaster, who got caught on a conflict of interest, Mosena, who. like Rodriguez, was only sent in to implement cuts, Kruesi, and then Huberman, who gave the appearance of cleaning stuff up, but also left a mess in his wake.

    If the standard is that projects didn't fall apart as soon as they were built, I guess one can cite the Orange Line. I was thinking the O'Hare extension, except the tracks were rebuilt a couple of years ago. On the other hand, the Dan Ryan line was garbage about from the get go in 1969 (i.e. the concrete ties had to be replaced soon after that, and the current problems supposedly go back to bad grading and drainage from the beginning; chicago-l.org also reported that the supports under the 18th St. ramp cracked).

    *The binder on mine just broke. I guess I have to go to Kroch & Brentano to get a new one. ;-)

  • In reply to jack:

    Good insights JAck. And I love the Kroch & Brentano's reference.

  • In reply to jack:

    While Krambles was technically proficient, he was far too in love with the Ravenswood Line & babied it, letting the rest of the system languish.
    An example was that cars 1-4 & 51-54 were only used on the Ravenswood during rush hours, until 51-54 were moved over to the Skokie Swift, but again, only rush hour service. 1-4 even got a special paint job.
    He was known for leaving the office in the Mart once a week & taking over the motorman's cab of a Ravenswood train & running it out to Kimball & back. He never did that with any of the other lines.

  • So as far as improving the physical parts of the CTA, you would say Krambles is the last one you approve of person and their work, with Alf Savage not doing a good job, but at least you thought he was qualified to be doing the work... Got it. Krambles seems to be a "once in a lifetime" sort of employees. Too bad.

    Ironic that Krambles became a consultant that you love to talk about...

  • In reply to chris:

    I think it was more his nephew, Art Peterson.

    I don't have an objection of someone doing some consulting after retirement. My objection is that the current federal transportation program has been for the last approx. 6 years merely to pay consultants without constructing anything--at least in this area. For whatever their problems, the Pink and Brown Line New Starts got constructed, but there is no money for any of the pending New Starts.

    Similarly, while I did not agree with the policies Carole Brown and other CTA Board members advocated, at least there was some evidence that Brown, Leonitis, and Zagota were exercising some independent judgment in overseeing the CTA. On the other hand, since then, that Board has also been turned over to political rubber stampers. And, despite what I said Emanuel should have done when taking office, he has just perpetuated that.

    As I have said before, I don't expect to see Claypool, AECOM and Kiewit, CTA from 45 to 65. And, as Kevin implies, not even on amazon.com.

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