CTA Blue Line project kicks off with weekend station closures

Track improvements begin on the CTA Blue Line this weekend, meaning service disruptions for thousands of riders.
March 22, 2014 8:28:36 AM PDT
Crews kicked off a massive project to upgrade the Blue Line's O'Hare Branch on Friday night. It will affect CTA riders for the next four years.

MORE DETAILS ON BLUE LINE PROJECT: Mayor's letter | CTA letter

This is the first weekend that train service is being suspended so work can begin.

By the time the project is done in 2018, Eyewitness News is told the ride from downtown to O'Hare will be 10 minutes faster.

Starting at 10 p.m. Friday, no trains will stop between the Western and Logan Square stations. A free shuttle bus will be offered to passengers instead.

The work includes replacing wooden rail ties and other track materials. Over 10 weekends between now and August, sections of the Blue Line will be closed.

At Tacqueria Moran restaurant, which sits in the shadow of the California Blue Line stop, riders often call in their orders before they get off the train.

"They'll be on the way. They're on the train, be there in two minutes, have their order ready. So I don't know what it's going to do now, but we have a lot of customers that use the train," said Pepe Moran, Tacqueria Moran owner.

Moran wonders what shuttle bus-only service at the station, this weekend and others this summer, will mean for his restaurant and for his family's bakery across the street.

"It could affect our business, hopefully not a lot. But it's going to affect a little bit," said Moran.

The CTA says the four-year, $492 million project will improve 12.5 miles of track and signals and overhaul 13 stations from O'Hare south to Grand, reducing slow-zones and giving a much-needed makeover to one of the oldest CTA branches.

"We said what does it need? It needed new track work to be faster. It needs stations that are more modern, better lit, etc., more accessible," said Tammy Chase, CTA spokesperson.

The work will be done on select weekends from 10 p.m. Friday nights until 4 a.m. Monday mornings. And this weekend, the Logan Square, California and Western stops are affected, with riders having to get off trains and take shuttle buses between those stops.

"Allow extra travel time. We'd say about 20 minutes extra to get to work or your flight on time," said Chase.

"People here, this is an art community. We work nights, and we work weekends. So having the subways out is crazy," said Nina Cativa, Blue Line rider.

Despite affecting his business, Pepe Moran is giving the CTA the benefit of the doubt.

"The neighborhood's changing. It's going to make it look nice. It's going to look good," said Moran.

The project comes on the heels of the Red Line South overhaul, which shut down the entire branch for five consecutive months. The CTA says this project is much different from station to station, and that's why it is being spread out over four years.


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