Price to repair CTA Brown Line platform mistake balloons to $5.7 million

A mistake by the CTA that was supposed to cost $300,000 to fix has now ballooned to about $5.7 million.

That’s the price tag to replace the faulty wood platforms at most new Brown Line stations with properly weatherized wood, according to an investigation by the Better Government Association and CBS 2. The CTA used wood for the platforms with a fireproofing chemical that they mistakenly thought would also protect it from rain, snow and other elements. Wrong.

A CTA spokesman was very matter-of-fact about the debacle in the CBS 2 story:

“The materials that were originally installed had a much shorter lifespan than they should have,” said CTA spokesman Brian Steele. “They only lasted about five to six years.”

All that occurred under a prior administration, Steele noted.

“The materials that were installed, in moving forward, will have an expected lifespan of 15 to 20 years, and that’s really what should be expected,” Steele said.

Asked whether the people responsible were held accountable for the, Steele said, “The staff that worked on that project are no longer with CTA. … They’ve moved on to other employment. They retired.”




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  • As I said a couple of days ago, the money the Chamber of Commerce said was needed for capital will have to be doubled for reasons like this.

    How many mistakes did the Kruesi administration have, between this, the NABIs, Block 37, the 2005-7 Red Line slow zone project, slow zones on the rebuilt Pink Line, and any other time bombs? And, of course, nobody is responsible.

  • One other major mistake made by Kreusi was not straightening out the Diversey Kink. He claimed it would cost $25 million & wasn't worth it.
    But how much is it going to cost over the next 50 years to replace worn rails, ties there & all the wheels that will need to be removed & put on the lathe to recut the flanges? Which will then have to be replaced much earlier than needed.
    There was also the idiotic Go Lane on the buses that was removed last year because it didn't speed up anything.
    The new Ventra pads on the yellow railing up front will suffer from the same mistake.
    Then there was the bizarre rebuild of Howard keeping the narrow platforms & making people go up & over to enter for the second busiest station not downtown, instead of a Belmont style reconstruction.
    The Howard bus terminal layout is I believe yet another Kreusi disaster. Closer to 600 feet from the 22 stop to the farthest southern bus stop, one of the Evanston runs I think.

    Claypool has also spent a fortune fixing up stations on the North Side that should have been closed.
    Thorndale, which could be replaced by a Glenlake entrance to Granville. Jarvis which just needs to disappear forever. Argyle & Berwyn need to be combined into a Foster stop. Lastly, Lawrence should go when Wilson is rebuilt with a Leland entrance.

    But the really big one that will be on Claypool's watch will be the inevitable change in the seating arrangement on the 5000s.
    It will happen after he's gone & it's going to be far in excess of
    $10 million!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I was going only for overt examples of money being spent and wasted. With a perpetual $8 billion unfunded capital need, one could argue that anything could have been rebuilt.

    And, no, they aren't changing the seats in the 5000s, at least until the midlife rebuild, at least 20 years from now. The real question might be that if the contract to rebuild the 3200s [whistle blown by the Tribune on it] is ever awarded, whether those specs call for changing the seats to match the 5000s. After all, the original experiment was on 3200s.

  • "Mistakes were made" is not exactly what I want to hear from the CTA. Since wherever it is these people moved on to probably means somewhere in city government, their current departments need to take a good look and make sure they're not costing us another few million with their new mistakes.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Here's a story from the Sun-Times about current incompetence closer to your heart.

    Apparently, after the yellow shirt attendance at the budget hearing, some CTA Board members are having a change of heart about the 11 bus, but don't know what to do about it, except that Rev. Robinson will pray.

    And, as someone pointed out on, CTA management doesn't know what it is talking about. The instant excuse was "the pick already happened," but that seems to be the same CYA as given with regard to the seats on the 5000s. Which brings us back to Scooter's point.

    Maybe some day Chicagoans will figure out that CTA management has been and continues to be incompetent, and actually do something about it.

    BTW, your statement about "elsewhere in city government" has precedent, since one of Huberman's lackeys who he kept taking with him to new departments apparently escaped discipline over a stink in the 911 center in this manner.

  • Well, look at CFD....I am sure they gave the thumbs down on the wook that was being used for years on the platforms. Think some more investigating should be done before putting it all on FK!

    As far as curves go, why do we not blame the original builders or the upper structure as they bought the cheapest property to build the rail line. You fix the Diversey curve, what about North Ave and Sheridan...etc....

  • In reply to WHOSETHEBOSS:

    I'm not sure if you are being sarcastic.

    I'm saying that in that the reported error a couple of years ago was that they used fire resistance treated wood instead of rot resistant treated wood.

    And, of course, if CTA employees aren't accountable, people who were around maybe 120 years ago sure aren't. That is unless CTA Board member Rev. Robinson prays for some divine retribution.

  • In reply to WHOSETHEBOSS:

    The reason I brought up the Diversey Kink was that they were already in 3 track operation for two years & could have easily straightened that out then. It also would have simplified reconstruction of the Diversey station, which is on the kink.

    As for the North & Halsted turns, what's really insane is that most of the land around there was vacant a number of years ago, mostly owned by the city, except for the Yondorf Building & the CTA could have obtained it for next to nothing, but did nothing. They even replaced the section over Halsted a few years ago, locking them into that for decades.
    Sheridan will be straightened out because it will be replaced with an ADA compliant station in the future & there's no room for one where the station is now.

    But don't blame the original builders the Northwestern Elevated Railway Co., which was part of the C&NW Ry then] entirely, they were hamstrung by the Adams Law which required permission from the property owners on a street to build L tracks over a street, as in the Loop, Lake St. & 63rd St. or NYC.
    There wasn't a chance they'd get it, so they were forced into the alleys.

  • After reading through the whole FY13 budget, I noticed a couple interesting items:

    1) They are increase to $5, the cost of the Soldier Field Express bus. I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere else. Seems pretty high considering how far it actually travels.

    2) According to the comparisons other transit agencies, the metrics they used put us near the top in nearly all categories compared to the others. Not sure if all these metrics are a rosy viewpoint, other transit agencies are that much worse, or something else.

    3) Although one stat had Seattle at almost twice as many miles as Chicago in miles between major mechanical failures, and we were #2. Age of fleet has something to do with it, but not all.

    I'm thinking after the recent meeting they might revise the #11 plan and possibly rethink some of these fare changes. We'll see. Are they not increasing the fares for political reasons or because of that promise they gave the state that they would not increase fares? I'm not understanding their reluctance to make cash fares more expensive and push people towards passes, and people on passes towards cards.

  • In reply to chris:

    Actually SEPTA stands for SouthEastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority, not Seattle as I wrote.

  • In reply to chris:

    There also is some FTA regulation about special buses being able to charge up to the highest fare in the system, which would become $5 after the hike at O'Hare,

  • In reply to chris:

    (1) Was mentioned before, in connection with Metra having previously subsidized the route. However, it was not on the kill list in the presentation. For that matter, 33 was in the presentation but not on the list of lines either canceled or with new schedules.

    (Last paragraph) If Emanuel has deluded you that CTA is not raising fares, then I have a 10 ride Metra ticket to sell you. As far as any fare freeze, that was in consideration for Quinn allowing the RTA to borrow $166 million in 2010-11, which Quinn promised the state would cover, but apparently did not. The 2012 budget (last year's), states that that money wasn't available then.

  • In reply to jack:

    By not raising the fares, I meant the basic cash fare, no pass/card. So, in essence it allows them to "technically" claim that fares don't go up, even if it cost more to ride for most people.

    That being said, is that why they're phrasing it the way they are, or do they not want to raise it in a slow economy despite Metra doing it.

  • In reply to chris:

    You can't have it both ways.

    Either both CTA and Metra raised certain fares, or they didn't. Maybe you are among those who believe cutting a discount isn't raising the price, but most don't see it that way. For instance, there was litigation that one can't charge more for using a credit card, but can give a discount, but the only thing apparent at some gas stations is that the sign says gas is 5 cents more with credit.

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