The CTA last week announced a $1 million study to assess the future needs of the long-neglected Blue Line.
The Blue Line Feasibility analysis will be done in coordination with the Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) current planning for the Circle Interchange and Reconstruction of the I-290 Eisenhower Expressway. The Forest Park Branch shares the right of way with the I-290, operating within the median of expressway.
The 55-year-old Blue Line has reached the end of its useful life and is riddled with slow zones. The study will be completed in eight months. In the meantime, the CTA noted several projects that are either underway or planned to improve service for West Side customers:
- Forest Park Branch Heavy Maintenance: In 2014, CTA will make track and other structural repairs on the Forest Park Branch, improvements that will increase safety and reliability until a more comprehensive reconstruction plan is devised and funded.
- CTA Bus Tracker Shelter Displays: In May, CTA crews installed new CTA Bus Tracker displays at 45 bus shelters throughout the west side, which are in addition to the estimated 25 displays installed in 2011 during the first half of the project.
- CTA Train Tracker Displays: By this fall, all 145 CTA rail stations will be equipped with at least one CTA Train Tracker display. Crews are installing these displays at stations along the Forest Park branch and by the end of June, all stations will have estimated train arrival times on display.
- Austin Station Renewal: This summer CTA maintenance crews will perform a “swat team” style approach to renewing the Austin Blue Line station to repair, clean and make improvements to the station.
- #35 35th Experimental Service: The CTA is currently testing experimental service for the #35 35th bus route that extends service to include 31st Street between Kedzie and Cicero avenues. The route extension is based on increased potential ridership demand in the corridor, and offers improved connections to the CTA’s Red, Green and Orange lines, additional CTA and Pace bus routes, and Metra’s Cicero station.
CTA will obtain feedback from the community and key stakeholders and return with final concepts in the fall which will be coordinated with the I-290 EIS meetings.
Anyone interested in the Blue Line Forest Park Branch Feasibility/Vision Study can email inquiries to BlueWestStudy@transitchicago.com.