By Tracy Swartz, @tracyswartz
3:09 PM CST, December 9, 2013
Call it deja Blue.
In what's being billed as the largest Blue Line investment in 30 years, CTA officials announced last week the agency will embark on a four-year, $492 million project to rid parts of the O'Hare branch of slow zones and upgrade 12 stations.
Sound familiar? While the station work is new, Blue Liners should be used to promises of slow zone removal.
In 2007, the CTA eliminated 22,500 feet of slow zone between Jefferson Park and Harlem, and trains there began to operate up to 55 miles per hour. (Trains run slower than 35 mph in a slow zone.)
In 2008, the agency tackled the slow zones between Harlem and O'Hare and Jefferson Park and Addison.
In 2009, the CTA focused on renewing the track between Clark/Lake and UIC/Halsted.
During these projects, parts of the Blue Line were shut down on weekends, shuttle service replaced trains and night work required trains to run on single tracks. In this upcoming construction, riders can expect similiar inconveniences, but the extent of these annoyances have not been announced.
The work aims to eliminate and prevent slow zones from Damen to Belmont and Grand to Division.
There is no doubt the Blue Line needs work. As of Friday, nearly 19 percent of the O'Hare branch is under slow zone. In December 2012, it was 5.9 percent.
Essentially, some riders have been paying more this year for slower service.
As part of last year's budget deal, riders without unlimited passes this year began paying $5 instead of $2.25 for Blue Line rides from O'Hare. The airport was the only spot to see this type of increase.
For what they've endured and what they will endure over the next four years, Blue Line riders deserve more than a Band-Aid. No need to go through this again in 10 more years.
A map of the Blue Line renovation plan can be found in the Related Items on this page of by clicking this link.
The CTA Holiday Train will be on the Pink Line on Tuesday and Wednesday and the Blue Line Thursday through Saturday. Go to transitchicago.com/holiday train for the full schedule.
A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note
This week: Chicago Brown Line
The trains at this Near North Side station are on the move—and so is the artwork on the stationhouse. Called “Reflections Expressions Transformations,” the colorful platform-level aluminum panels are intended to pivot independently to “constantly shift and change, like the surrounding streetscape, in response to wind currents and the vibrations of passing trains,” according to the CTA.
Next up: Sheridan Red Line
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