Monday, January 11, 2010

Mayor Daley, CTA celebrate completion of Brown Line project

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Mayor Richard M. Daley, Chicago Transit Board Chairman Terry Peterson and Chicago Transit Authority President Richard L. Rodriguez joined federal, state and city officials Jan. 9 at the Fullerton rail station for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of 18 station renovations as part of the CTA's $530-million Brown Line Capacity Expansion Project.

Belmont and Fullerton - the final two stations to complete construction - were rebuilt in the same locations and now include elevators for customers with disabilities, making 91 of the CTA's 144 rail stations now accessible. CTA preserved the two historic stationhouses at each station and relocated them across the street to serve as secondary entrances.

"The completion of these two stations and this entire program represents a great enhancement of our transportation system and moves us closer to our goal of bringing accessible, reliable service to riders of the Brown Line and to riders of the CTA system across Chicago," said Mayor Daley. "This project is a good example of how essential capital investment projects are to the economic growth and development of our region. I am also happy to report - especially in these difficult economic times - that this project was completed on time and on budget."

The Brown Line Capacity Expansion Project was designed to relieve congestion, provide for future growth by increasing capacity, and improve service delivery, safety and customer comfort. The project also made the Brown Line accessible to all CTA customers, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines.

The Brown Line is the third busiest line in the CTA rail system - behind the Red and Blue lines. Between 1979 and 2008, annual ridership on the Brown Line increased by 103.5 percent from 7,431,066 to 15,122,363.

Prior to the construction project, most Brown Line stations were not able to accommodate eight-car trains like other CTA rail lines. It was not unusual for commuters to encounter several full trains before being able to board a train during the morning rush. As part of the expansion project, platforms at 16 stations were extended to provide space for eight-car trains resulting in a one-third increase in capacity over the six-car configuration. Eight-car train operation began on March 30, 2008.

In addition to station renovations, the Brown Line Capacity Expansion Project included building a new substation and rehabilitating an existing substation to supply the additional power needed to power eight-car trains; installation of a new signal system at Clark Junction, the location where Brown, Red and Purple Express trains merge just north of the Belmont station; and the rehabilitation of the Clark Tower facility at the junction.

Along with the two new elevators and the auxiliary entrances and exits at Belmont and Fullerton, other renovations include: accessible turnstiles; escalators to each platform; brighter lighting; new signs including Braille, and bike racks.

Original artwork was also part of the overall station renovations as the result of the partnership between CTA and the City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs. Derick Malkemus created the art sculpture in front of the historic station at Fullerton entitled ‘Landslide' and artist Michael Dinges' mosaic, ‘Doors Open Everywhere at Fullerton' appears inside the new station on the rear wall. At Belmont, David Lee Csicsko's mosaics appear throughout the station - ‘We All Ride the Train Together' is featured on the rear wall of the new stationhouse; while Jerald Jacquard created the sculpture ‘Space Junction of Energy' on the outdoor plaza of the historic station.

Funding for the Brown Line capacity expansion project was made possible through a combination of federal and non-federal funds. In 2004, the CTA was the recipient of a federal Full Funding Agreement Grant totaling $245.52 million.

Belmont and Fullerton join Kimball, Kedzie, Rockwell, Francisco, Western, Sedgwick, Montrose, Addison, Southport, Armitage, Diversey, Chicago, Damen, Irving Park, Paulina and Wellington where renovation work has been completed.

Current ridership on the Brown Line averages more than 90,000 on a normal weekday.

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