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nomarandlee Oct 21, 2008 1:41 AM


New CTA Brown Line has rough edges, building shortcuts
12 of the 18 stations are updated, but was expansion project worth $530 million?

Jon Hilkevitch | Getting Around
October 20, 2008

CTA officials must be hoping that Brown Line riders hurrying to catch their trains won't pay too much attention to spots where corners were cut at rebuilt stations as the $530 million rehab project enters its final phase.

"The reconstruction has gone very well, no major problems," said Pat Taylor, the agency's vice president of facilities maintenance, construction and engineering.

The Chicago Transit Authority can take credit for stations that are sleek and larger than the old ones while preserving the original historic station houses. The community artwork adds a nice touch...........

k1052 Oct 21, 2008 2:21 PM

I do have to say that the very short platform canopies definitely suck. Of all the things to cut costs on I think this was a really terrible choice.

Nobody who has to stand on windy platforms totally exposed to freezing rain or snow this fall/winter is going to be saying anything kind about the CTA.

VivaLFuego Oct 21, 2008 2:50 PM

I'd like to think the stations were designed so that the various features removed by value engineering could eventually be added: 4-car canopies, escalators, turnstiles, etc. But I'm not sure. One problem is that at some stations, the wind break shelters aren't located under the canopy, so it'll be pick-your-poison on the worst weather days. From what I remember of the original station designs, the cost reductions did have a pretty major impact on the project: each station used to have many more unique architectural features and had a more holistically-coherent design for it's specific site and location. A large chunk of the cost savings were obtained by strict standardization of many features and components, which sounds good on paper but...

...oh well; get what you pay for.

OhioGuy Oct 21, 2008 3:09 PM

The canopy issue is kind of annoying. I complained on here last winter when I noticed that the Addison station was covered with snow, upwards of 18 hours after a snow storm had hit. No CTA worker had bothered to come out & shovel off the platform. I would think it would be a safety issue and have top priority to ensure the platforms are clear of snow & ice. Instead the only area to wait was under the small portion of the platform covered by the canopy. I've also seen the canopy situation being an issue at Montrose, where it's located at the end end of the platform from where people walk up the stairs. So plenty of riders just crowd the area at the top of the stairs which has a small covering. It makes me happy that my local L station is the Addision red line stop where the canopy covers the entire platform and escalators are in place. But at the same time, I don't want to complain too much about the brown line. For the most part I do like the new stations... and I particularly like some of the new station houses (Sedgwick is great and I suspect the newly refurbished Damen station house will be great as well).

ChicagoChicago Oct 21, 2008 7:27 PM

Can anyone tell me what the deal is with the Wellington stop on the brown line? Per the "Countdown to a new Brown" website, the Wellington stop is only supposed to stay closed for a year. Unless they buil that thing in record time though, it isn't going to happen. It is supposed to re-open in March.

I'm not even sure that it can happen, because the new platform (not built) on the Northbound side doesn't appear to be capable of handling 8 car trains due to width constraints.

Chicago3rd Oct 21, 2008 8:47 PM

^^I am betting it will be closed. That has been my gut feeling for a while now. With Belmont having the southern stairway at Fletcher it is only .18 miles to Wellington. Now I don't believe in getting rid of stations, but like you I cannot see where the station on the east side northbound will be going and unlike all the other stations they ripped this one almost completely out.

The problem would be the City allowed another Parking garage to be built and that took up the build the platform.

ChicagoChicago Oct 21, 2008 9:14 PM

I'm hoping it will be be closed. It makes zero sense to have a station so close to Belmont, and I'm not looking forward to my Brownline stops making the extra pause there every trip as well. I do know quite a few Illinois-Masonic employees that are hoping for the stop to re-open, but I'm not one of them. I think a fair comprimise would be to have an opening to the Belmont station from Fletcher.

VivaLFuego Oct 21, 2008 10:00 PM

Wellington will be rebuilt, but it might end up having been closed more than 12 months (I guess they borrowed some 'credits' from opening Diversey early, hehe). The station serves not only a major trip generator and work destination (the hospital) but also is very highly utilized by the surrounding residential neighborhood. The rail transit mode share of people who live near the Diversey, Wellington, and Belmont stops is the envy of any other transit agency in the country. If CTA were building a transit line from scratch it would make sense to bypass Wellington, but not when the existing neighborhood has largely developed around it.

Chicago3rd Oct 22, 2008 1:17 AM

^^Have you physically seen what they did to it? No other station was demolished like that one. Of course we are speculating here, because it could have been the one that was in the worse shape. But the budget crises just may be the excuse they need to not open it up in the next year or so. I think Masonic showed us how concerned they are about the neighborhood and mass transit by building that new garage right next to the el. Anyway...full of opinions...just my own.

harryc Oct 23, 2008 2:21 AM

Oct 11 - this is why they call it the green line.

Oct 13 - working on Grand and State

The friendly equipment

MayorOfChicago Oct 23, 2008 2:29 AM

I have been thinking about Wellington for weeks now!! I go by every day and EVERY aspect of that old station is entirely gone. Station house (even though it sucked), the overheads, platforms, and even all the old supports for the old station.

There's literally nothing there, and there hasn't been a worker on that site in many many months. Lately I've been completely convinced that they'll wait till people get use to going to Belmont and Diversey, then wait until all 4 tracks are restored in a few months and people are happy, and then sneak in around Christmas that Wellington is toast.

Absolutely no way it'll be open in March. It's been closed for 7 months and the last time anyone was working on that station was 6 months ago when they finished demolishing it all.

pip Oct 23, 2008 4:40 AM

^I don't even see how they can build the east side of the platform, extending it to 8 cars in lengh, without ripping out down a building

whyhuhwhy Oct 23, 2008 6:49 PM


Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3865945)
I'm not trying to be difficult. I think my 1000+ rides annually on CTA (not to mention the many transit trips taken while traveling) give me plenty of perspective to critique CTA service. I just don't see how winter this year will impact ridership any more than winter does any other year.

I'll give your point a shot, though. One of the problems with the heat lamps at rail stations is that they're so high. On the coldest days (e.g. <20F) they are too high to adequately provide warmth for people standing on the platform below - at a few stations there's a bench nearby that people inevitably wind up standing upon to get closer to the heat. In Chicago, this is necessary because if the heat lamps are reachable by hand, the heating element and metal grating will be stolen instantly, just like anything else that isn't bolted/welded down (and bolting only works if you use an obscure drive type e.g. Torq/Torx and apply enough tightening force that machine power is necessary to unbolt it). Between the theft risk and the maintenance involved, this is also why heat lamps are unfeasible at bus shelters, though I could imagine it's the type of idiosyncracy Daley could latch onto and have installed at downtown shelters.

The problem with the heat lamps I notice is that there are just not enough of them. I've stood on those platforms in the dead of winter and getting a spot underneath a heatlamp is like getting a spot behind home plate during the Cubs playoffs. Also from my experience it looks like there are more bus riders than there are train riders.

I hate to be a downer but this is a cold ass city, and it's very windy, it rains a lot, it's also beautiful a lot too. We all know that and it's cliche. But as far as transit we REALLY have to take this into account. We need to be realistic with our goals. The weather in Chicago is just not conducive to making transit as feasible as it is in Europe unless it is well planned and EXPENSIVE, since 90% of our transit system is above ground, exposed to what I can only describe as arctic conditions for months out of the year. It will be expensive to change that. The wind shields sound like a great start.

I used to live in London and would take transit every day, year round, and it was wonderful. The weather is much more mild and the stations are underground. In Chicago I am seriously taking my health into my own risk anywhere from November through March. It would be different if I had to take transit at high noon, but in the mornings it can get extremely cold. I can see a thousand sick people in a week as a doc and I won't get sick, but make me stand out in sub-zero degree weather for 30-45 minutes every day for a good week and I'll be done for, from my experience. Not good. So I drive instead, and stay warm.

Taft Oct 23, 2008 6:58 PM


Originally Posted by pip (Post 3870958)
^I don't even see how they can build the east side of the platform, extending it to 8 cars in lengh, without ripping out down a building

which brings up an interesting the station being delayed to an eminent domain dispute? I have also been wondering about how/when they were going to do this station. It is "my" station, so to speak, so I'm waiting for it to re-open.

The one thing I'll note is that they have Wellington routed around where the station was in a seemingly "permanent" fashion. There are long-term looking barriers directing traffic into two very narrow lanes near the north end of the street and have even painted a yellow line divider for the new route. Looks like they are prepared for the road to be narrowed for the long term.


OhioGuy Oct 24, 2008 3:27 AM

Fun time on the blue line this evening. Someone jumped in front of a southbound train at Montrose, which shut the southbound line down from Rosemont to Addison. I had to be out in Schaumburg this evening and then rode a shuttle to Rosemont. I hopped on the train there, only to wait 10 minutes before someone with the CTA said they had some shuttles down stairs for those needing them. I'm thinking what the fuck??? They didn't give any reason or information that the southbound line had been shut down. So I, and about 75% of the riders, remained on the train until finally a CTA worker said that someone had jumped in front a train at one of the stations and that we all had to take the shuttles. The communication was rather poor. So I hopped on a shuttle that took forever to finally get to my stop at Addison where I then switched to the 152 to head home to Lakeview. When someone jumps in front of a train, it seems to absolutely cripple a line. I guess single tracking wasn't an option between Jefferson Park and Irving Park because they can't just shut off the electricity in that isolated section in & around Montrose?

Chicago3rd Oct 24, 2008 3:28 PM

So in only 10 minutes CTA had shuttles for you and announced they were available? And 75% of the riders didn't take the hint????? 10 minutes is very impressive to have not only an annoucement but actual buses there to continue the trip south. I would have been part of the 25% who got off....CTA fool me once shame on you fool me twice.

OhioGuy Oct 25, 2008 5:50 PM

It's the lack of communication that was the problem. If I hadn't sat around waiting & wondering why we weren't moving, I wouldn't have complained on here. And others on the train had been waiting even longer without any information on why everything was stopped. Communication is key, and they failed at that. Think you can actually grasp the concept of good communication?

pip Oct 26, 2008 3:16 AM

I had a really strange experience on the CTA today.

I got on at the Grand Red Line stop and was heading to my destination Belmont. The train flew the entire way. No slow downs, no stops, it even flew into the stations. Well if this is how things will be when the slow zones are finally fixed I'll die a happy person.

UChicagoDomer Oct 26, 2008 2:37 PM

blue line re-reconstruction??
the blue line is 15mph between chicago and grand, inbound, and pretty slow for half the distance between grand and clark/lake as well. it wasn't like that 2 months ago (according to the slow zone map at anyone have a culprit to blame and whether a solution to that is in the works?

Nowhereman1280 Oct 27, 2008 6:32 AM

I noticed a sign tonight at Belmont and Fullerton that said the 2nd phase 3 tracking was running 6 months ahead of schedule and full rail service is expected to resume by the end of 2008. Could the CTA finally be getting its act together?

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