Here's the 411 on two major initiatives for the CTA - slow zone repairs on the Ravenswood Connector and the wide debut of the Ventra fare-payment system.
Today marks start of newest Brown, Purple line slow zone project. The CTA today began a $71 million rehab project in the "Ravenswood Connector" to repair slow zones between Armitage Avenue and the Loop. The project will eliminate more than 70 percent of Brown Line slow zones.
The work will start with the repair and replacement of components on the steel structure between the Armitage and Merchandise Mart elevated stations. Once the infrastructure work is completed, the CTA will begin replacing deteriorated rail ties and track components, work that is expected to begin in 2014.
To minimize the impact to service, structural repair work will be performed mostly late at night and on weekends. During these times, trains traveling in both directions will operate on a single track, which will result in longer travel times and occasionally changes in boarding locations at rail stations. Be sure to check the CTA website each week for info on where that week's work will be.
Ventra cards widely available starting Monday. Yes, this week and Monday the new Ventra fare-payment cards will be put to their harshest test. The cards will be available to purchase at more than 700 retailers, including CVS/pharmacy and Jewel-Osco. Ventra cards also will be available at hundreds of currency exchanges and independent neighborhood shops. Walgreens will begin offering Ventra cards at 159 locations shortly after the September launch. Ventra signs will appear in store windows as the new cards are available, Customers can also visit ventrachicago.com for an updated list of Ventra retail locations.
You also can order them online.
Last week we heard of new problems using the cards at auxiliary rail entrances, such as Paulina. The CTA was working feverishly to fix these glitches.
Also, remember that on Monday you should be able to use contactless bank cards that have the "Blink" logo on the back. So you don't necessarily have to get a Ventra card.
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