By Dan Mihalopoulos
Tribune staff reporter
Date of Publication: April 14, 2004
Source: Chicago Tribune
Preliminary work toward the renovation of the Chicago Transit Authority's Brown Line should begin this summer, and rehabbing the century-old service will take about four years, authority President Frank Kruesi said. Kruesi overlooks the Belmont station platform Tuesday. For a larger view, click here. (Tribune photo by Nancy Stone)
Some of the Brown Line's 19 stops will be closed temporarily before the project is completed in December 2008, Kruesi said.
But he said "L" service on the Brown Line would not be suspended at any time.
It is not yet clear when some stops would be closed because the CTA has not hired a contractor for the project. Bids for the job are due next month.
CTA officials provided those details after an event Tuesday where Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Mayor Richard Daley, U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), U.S. Rep. Rahm Emmanuel (D-Ill.) and other elected officials celebrated the federal government's agreement to pay for almost 80 percent of the project's cost.
Grants from Washington will total $423.1 million. The rest of the money will come from the Regional Transit Authority, $56 million; the Illinois Department of Transportation, $49.7 million; and the CTA, $1 million.
"With funding for this project now locked in, we're able to take another step in our commitment to improve neighborhood quality of life and public transportation for CTA riders and all the people of Chicago," Daley said.
Work on the Brown Line, which runs between the Loop and Kimball and Lawrence Avenues, will include rehabbing all 19 stations.
Protesters demanding better service on the CTA Blue Line on the city's West Side disrupt a ceremonial signing Tuesday of a federal funding agreement for the $530 million Brown Line rehab on the North Side. For a larger view, click here. (Tribune photo by Nancy Stone)
The line, built between 1900 and 1907, is the CTA's third-busiest train service. It moves an average of 66,000 passengers on weekdays.
Brown Line ridership is growing faster than any other "L" line. The 13.6 million passengers who use the service each year represent an 83 percent increase during the last 25 years, according to the CTA.
The project will be the costliest improvement effort in the CTA's history, surpassing the $483 million modernization of the Douglas branch.
Critics of the CTA's decision to not provide weekend and late-night service on the Douglas branch of the Blue Line, also known as the Cermak branch,sneaked into the event Tuesday morning at the Ann Sather restaurant at 929 W. Belmont Ave.
About 15 protesters demanding the immediate restoration of weekend and night-owl service on the Douglas branch jeered Daley and chanted, "We want weekends, we want nights, we want what's fair, we want what's right."
As the protesters waved signs before a row of TV cameras, Ald. Burton Natarus (42nd) grabbed the microphone and shouted for them to "shut up."
Police escorted the group from the room when the news conference began.
Kruesi responded that the CTA was careful not to stop Douglas branch service during the improvement project.
Douglas branch trains currently stop running about 12:50 a.m. on weeknights.
The agency would convene public hearings and study ridership patterns to determine what level of service should be provided, he said. That process could begin later this year, CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney said.
But the ongoing work makes it impossible to expand service before the project is finished in January, officials said.
Copyright (c) 2004, Chicago Tribune