Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CTA leaders announced a $492 million investment to upgrade stations, signals and tracks Thursday morning.
This is a project that will play out over a four-year time span and unlike the Red Line South, which was a complete rail rebuild, the "New Blue," as it's being called, is meant to bring a better look and better travel times to a very busy line and it won't be inexpensive.
There are parts of the Blue Line that have the slows. Wooden ties beaten by weather and age will be replaced. The elevated section between Division and Logan is due for structural rehab.
The biggest portion of the half-million dollar fix up will be spent on an improved signal system. That's arguably the most important part of what's now being branded "the New Blue."
"That is incredibly complex enterprise," said CTA President Forrest Claypool. "That's what stretches it out over four years. That'll be the last piece of the puzzle."
Better signal coordination means trains don't get slowed as often, which means platforms are apt to be less congested which means improved travel times, and here's the big promise of the New Blue.
"First of all the new Blue will take 10 minutes of travel time office the airport to downtown and downtown to airport," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Ten minutes off the travel time from downtown to O'Hare, which is typically a 45-50 minute ride is the aim that the mayor has now put on record.
The nearly half-billion dollars committed to the new Blue is the most money spent on this line since another mayor celebrated its extension from Jefferson Park to O'Hare 30-years ago.
Some of the other stations haven't changed much since then, but this project will give seven Blue stations a face lift. Grand, for instance, will ultimately look like this. And the subway will be upgraded to 4G service so your smart gear stays connected.
The work starts next year, and will be spaced out over four years
"There would be weekend closures from track projects, temporary closings of some stations similar to the Red lines closings in 12," said CTA Chief Infrastructure Officer Chris Bushell.
"It's already a pretty good commute," said Blue Line rider Carl Rybaltowski. "As long as that stuff is even along the whole route, that's pretty good."
While there will be federal money and state money used to pay for the reconstruction, the lion's share will be local money.