“Crowdsourced” website covers $200 million in CTA station construction

(The following news release was sent this morning to Chicago-area media.)

A new website at ctastationwatch.com is asking transit riders and construction buffs to share what they see every day as the Chicago Transit Authority embarks on a complex series of station rebuilds on the North Red Line.

The website collects real-time, crowdsourced news about three separate CTA projects that will get under way this summer and in 2013:

  • Facelifts at seven stations – The CTA has awarded a $57 million contract to Kiewit Infrastructure Co. for major renovations at Jarvis, Morse, Granville, Thorndale, Berwyn, Argyle and Lawrence stations. Work began last week and is scheduled for completion in early 2013. The total cost of the project is $86 million.
  • Loyola viaduct and stationhouse – This $17 million project includes viaduct repairs, a relocated station entrance and a new plaza paid for by Loyola University.
  • New Wilson Station – This project is likely to include rebuilt track structures, two platforms to allow express transfers, and renovated or new stationhouses.

Started by long-time transit watchers Patrick Barry and Kevin O’Neil, the site allows crowdsourced sharing of information via Twitter feeds (@stationnameCTA), a Facebook page and a group pool of photos on Flickr. Over Memorial Day weekend, for instance, O’Neil tweeted that Kiewit workers were tearing the roof off a former currency exchange under the Morse “L” station. Barry noticed rail ties and other materials stockpiled in a fenced lot on Broadway south of Foster.

“This is going to be a ton of fun for all of us who like watching public works projects,” said Barry, an urban issues writer for the last 31 years. “By tapping the eyes and ears of the riders and neighborhood residents, we’ll be able to track the action on a day-to-day basis.”

The website was built pro-bono by programmers Kobe Snyder and Nick Rougeux of Webitects, Inc., a firm active in Chicago’s open-data movement. The site uses Internet feeds and filters to collect and sort news as it is generated.

The site’s co-editor, Kevin O’Neil, has been blogging about all things seen and heard on the CTA for eight years at CTA Tattler.  “We’re real excited about this because we know there’s a lot of interest in CTA construction, and the website gives people an opportunity to participate and share what they are seeing.”

The seven stations will close for about six weeks each during the project, starting with Granville on June 1.


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