Purple Line viaduct repairs should alleviate slow zones

In my recent interview with CTA President Forrest Claypool, he called fixing slow zones one of his top priorities, and said he was “working feverishly” to find the dollars to get that job done.

He made some progress on that front on Friday with the announcement of a new $10.3 million contract to repair Purple Line viaducts at Greenleaf, Dempster and Grove streets in Evanston.

“These crumbling viaducts are more than 100 years old and have deteriorated over time with exposure to the elements and train vibrations, leading to reduced speeds for Purple Line trains,” Claypool said in a statement. “Repairing the viaducts will allow us to remove the slow zones and speed travel for customers. The new structures also will provide a safer and more attractive environment for the community.”

Funding for this project, awarded to Kiewit Infrastructure, comes from an Illinois Dept. of Transportation grant through the RTA. According to the CTA, the project “involves replacing the concrete viaducts with new steel structures, as well as new abutments, retaining walls, foundations, and new waterproofing and drainage systems. The project also includes rail tie replacement, new landscaping and lighting enhancements under the bridges.”

Look for more on my interview with Claypool a bit later.


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  • Thoroughly illogical to replace viaducts in Evanston before the crumbling viaducts in Edgewater & Rogers Park are replaced.
    Far more people are inconvenienced by the slow zones in the city than the ones in Evanston.
    In addition, the Evanston riders are also slowed down by the city slow zones.
    Claypool must be doing this to curry favor with some North Shore state legislators!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Those had props under them and have been slow (like 6 mph, from riding it, even if the map says more) for about the 16 years I have been here (this time around).

    I think we discussed earlier that they were about 80 years old, so Claypool is off on that incidental detail, maybe 90 if south of Davis is older than Central.

    But, yes, Claypool does have to curry favor with North Shore legislators. If you look at who was pushing the joke of a bill that resulted in the 2008 RTA law, it was North Shore legislators, spearheaded by Hamos from Evanston (lost the 10th District race, so Quinn got her a job), Nekritz, Mathias (he's a a Republican so they now are trying to redistrict him out), Ryg, Bassi, and Lang (of gambling fame). If this lets me post a link, see the legislative history for 97 GA HB 1841.

    BTW, the press release said it was state money and Evanston is in the state. If Claypool wants to take the Carole Brown approach of threatening to cut off service to Evanston, see where it gets him this time.

  • Looks like it won't cost the CTA any of their own money, so why not fix them? I agree that there are other areas have a higher need south of there where it affects both red and purple, but I'm not sure what stipulations were in the grant money. Either way, it's good that this is getting fixed, along with the new work approved for the Loop and just outside the loop at Hubbard.

    Plus they got a couple more leases approved which helps to pay for some of these projects.

  • I love the political calculation of the other posters. Claypool is certainly mis-speaking if he says these are the delays the burden the purple line. Since every Purple Line is an Evanston Local, this can hardly be the case. The real burden is the complete demise of the Evanston Express as it was conceived. Now it is a South-of-Belmont-Local that delivers customer value only as a secondary version of the Brown Line. Up the fare to reflect the Express status and restore the traditional Loyola-Chicago-Merchandise Mart Express Service. While I recognize the present day link to De Paul's two campuses via Purple Line, I still maintain the Purple line is simply, in today's operation, being used to mitigate or hide the ills of the main North-South Trunk line.

  • The extra stops were added to the Evanston Express trains due to capacity shortages on the Ravenswood Line.
    Now that the Ravenswood can handle 8 car trains at all stations, The trains need to return to expresses, but keep the Fullerton, Belmont & Chicago stops.
    Eventually, it needs to run all day with added stops at Wilson, Bryn Mawr & Loyola.

  • The Brown Line can now handle 8 car trains but the CTA has to wait until the 5000 series production cars start arriving before they can really take advantage, due to equipment shortage.

    Personally, I'd rather it skipped Wilson on any enhanced express schedule and use Sheridan instead (where it already almost has to stop because of the curves).

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