CTA to Close Dilapidated Train Station


By Gary Washburn

Date of Publication: October 16, 1987
Source: Chicago Tribune


The Chicago Transit Authority will shut down the Indiana Avenue station on its Englewood/Jackson Park rapid-transit line because of its "severely deteriorated condition," and the agency faces the prospect of spending hundreds of millions of dollars to refurbish other parts of its aging system, officials said Thursday.

The Indiana Avenue station, at 40th Street on the 1890s-vintage line, will be closed at the end of the day Oct. 30 as CTA executives study whether it is worth rebuilding, at an estimated cost of more than $5 million.

In the mean time, station platforms on the east and west sides of the tracks will be demolished so they won't collapse onto the tracks, said George Haenisch, acting CTA maintenance chief.

The deterioration is in the structural steel under the platforms, not in the supports for the elevated structure, which carries the line's tracks, officials said.

Glenn Zilka, CTA supervisor of track and structure construction, reported at a CTA board meeting that the station underwent temporary shoring in 1979, 1982, 1983, 1985 and 1986, but has experienced further deterioration that makes closing necessary.

Haenisch said that the latest problem was detected during "a routine inspection of all our facilities."

Even in its present condition, Zilka said the station meets standards set by city code and is able to support 100 pounds of weight per square foot. It can handle the people who use the station, "but with any additional load from snow or ice, we do not have that safety factor," he said.

The station has about 1,000 boardings a day, a low number by CTA standards. Robert Paaswell, CTA executive director, said that a decision on rebuilding would not be made until after there has been a study of how the station's closing would affect riders and the neighborhood.

CTA board member John Hoellen asked how many of the CTA's 144 train stations were in shape similar to the Indiana Avenue facility. "Some are bad, but not as bad as 40th and Indiana ," Zilka reported.

The condition of aging rail lines points up the need for a major infusion of cash for capital projects, Paaswell said.

"We will not operate in an unsafe condition," he said. "Safety comes first, but in order to keep our stations open, we need capital dollars... You are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars and I wish we had the money."

A preliminary engineering study by the Regional Transportation Authority, released last summer, concluded that $3.5 billion was needed to maintain CTA's trains, tracks, stations and elevated structures. When the needs of the CTA's bus system are added in, along with those of Metra, the commuter rail system, and Pace, the suburban bus system, the figure ballooned to $5.9 billion.

The RTA for the last year has been waging a campaign, so far unsuccessful, for new sources of money for infrastructure repair.

Part of Gov. James Thompsons's proposed tax package, defeated in the last season of the General Assembly, called for allocation of $750 million over the next seven years for Chicago-area transit renovation.

Transit officials say that if adequate sources of new money are not fund, aging portions of the system may have to be abandoned.