Erik Gonzalez typically drives from his Northwest Side home to the CTA California Blue Line station on weekdays to park on the street and ride the Blue Line to the University of Illinois at Chicago for class.
But starting Thursday, Gonzalez, who lives in Hermosa, will have to find a different stop to hop on the Blue Line. The California stop in Logan Square will close at 1 a.m. Thursday for 42 days so the CTA can make stationhouse and platform repairs as part of a four-year, $492 million Blue Line overhaul. The California station is expected to reopen Oct. 16.
Gonzalez, 25, said he will instead drop his car off at the Western Blue Line stop, one stop south of the California station, and pick up the train there.
“I think it’s going to be inconvenient,” Gonzalez said about the temporary California stop closure. “I don’t need [the station upgrade]. It’s fine the way it is. I like the rugged look.”
The CTA said the 119-year-old California stop needs the facelift, which includes structural repairs, painting, new platforms, improved lighting and signage. But some Blue Line riders and businesses say the stop closure will be a hassle. About 5,000 commuters use the California stop every weekday, according to May CTA ridership data, the most recent available.
Rosa Acevedo, manager of Taqueria Moran, across from the California stop, said 50 percent of her taqueria’s business comes from foot traffic to and from the station.
“I know [business] is going to be slow, and there’s nothing we can do. They gotta fix” the station, Acevedo said.
California users already have been subjected to six weekend station closures this year as CTA crews fixed Blue Line track. Weekend closures, 10 total, have been completed on the northern section of the Blue Line, the CTA said.
Revolution Brewing, which is around the corner from the California stop, at 2323 N. Milwaukee Ave., said the brewpub saw a “minor dip” in business during the weekend Blue Line closures.
Brewpub general manager Gabriel Boden said he doesn’t like the inconvenience the stop’s temporary closure will cause for customers or staff living outside the neighborhood. He said he also hopes the closure doesn’t encourage more vehicle traffic in the area. But ultimately, he says, the station work may be beneficial.
“If the closure means a better stop for the people that live in the neighborhood and the people coming to visit us, I think it will be worth it,” Boden said in a statement to RedEye.
RedEye has a few tips to make sure Blue Line riders won’t be, umm, blue during the California closure.
Train: The Blue Line will continue to operate beyond the California station but won’t stop there. Head to the neighboring Western or Logan Square stops to pick up the Blue Line. There will not be shuttle service from the California stop to other Blue Line stops.
Bikes: Bad news, cyclists. During construction, cyclists won’t be able to use the bike racks in front of the California stop. There is some bike parking across the street, but don’t count on spaces during station work. For Divvy users, the bike-share program won’t be increasing its number of docks from 15 but a spokesman said Divvy will add resources as needed to ensure there are enough bikes and bike parking.
Buses: The CTA plans to add No. 56-Milwaukee weekday and weekend service, which stops by the California station and parallels the Blue Line. New No. 56 night-time service will serve only the Logan Square, California and Western CTA stations. Use the No. 52-Kedzie/California and No. 74-Fullerton buses to transfer to other CTA stations.
A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note
This week: Rockwell Brown Line
This stop has a few unique touches — it has a ground-level platform and faces Ravenswood garages. And forget benches.
The platform has short stools to sit on while waiting for the train. Visit the stop for its uniqueness — stick around for its one-of-a-kind view of Chicago.
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