Red Line Gets a Shine:

Subway Trains Rerouted for Major Cleaning Project


Date of Publication: Spring, 1998
Source: Chicago Transit Authority web site


When Chicago's first subway line opened 55 years ago, most city dwellers considered a once-a-week bath sufficient.

Times have changed, and so have the hygienic habits of the city's dominant people-mover, the Chicago Transit Authority. The CTA is announcing one of the biggest spring cleaning projects in the agency's history. As part of the project the State Street Subway and stations that serve the Red (Howard-Dan Ryan) Line will undergo a major cleaning, including rodding out the sewers and drains.

The cleaning will be done early Sunday mornings, causing Red Line trains to be rerouted to the elevated tracks between Fullerton and Cermak-Chinatown stations. In addition, CTA bus shuttles will be in place to accommodate Red Line customers using the North/Clybourn, Clark/Division, Chicago/State, and Grand/State stations. The State Street Subway will remain closed on Sundays only from 1am to 9am, when ridership is at its lowest, to allow CTA crews to perform a number of maintenance activities.

"We felt in order to do this major cleaning job right, we needed to close the Red Line Subway during the hours when we would inconvenience the fewest number of riders at these busy downtown stations," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. "The heavy ridership on the Red Line during the week prevents CTA staff from effectively navigating the power washing equipment around our customers.

It takes a great deal of elbow grease to remove decades of dirt and grime."

The cleaning process will include:

Over the past year, the CTA has made a strong commitment to cleaner, better maintained stations. Through a reorganization of the Maintenance Department last year, the work force can be deployed more effectively, resulting in increased productivity.

Since 1996, the CTA has invested $270,000 in 30 power washers to better clean facilities. These power washers use hot, pressurized water and soap to clean stations, stairways, and platforms. Power washers can blast off dirt and graffiti, and even remove chewing gum in less time, with more efficiency and better results than manual cleaning. Last year, the CTA spent $40 million on a Neighborhood Station Improvement Program to improve 122 rail stations with new coats of paint, windbreaks, trash receptacles, and construction work.

In addition to the intensive cleaning process on the Red Line, several capital improvements will also be made, such as grouting of ceilings to prevent dripping, replacement of railroad ties, and reconditioning of some rail system signals.

Stations along the Blue, Brown, Green, Yellow, Purple, and Orange Lines will also be power washed and receive the same detailed cleaning as part of the agency's effort to make rail stations more attractive and pleasing to CTA customers. Unlike on the Red Line, it is unnecessary to close rail stations on any of the other CTA lines while they are being cleaned, since they do not carry the same high volume of riders as the Red Line.

To accommodate customers during the Red Line Sunday morning reroute, the above Red Line stops will be made. Both Chicago/Franklin and Madison/Wabash are normally closed on weekends, but will be open and staffed with a Customer Assistant during the reroute to serve Red Line customers.

CTA shuttle bus service will be provided as shown above.

CTA Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett added, "The hard work of the CTA cleaning crews will improve the appearance of our subway system. Through our enhanced maintenance efforts on all CTA rail lines, CTA customers will benefit from cleaner, brighter stations and more attractive surroundings at rail stations throughout the CTA's train network."

For more information, please call 1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282).