IL: Elevated Structure Work Along Brown, Purple Lines Expected to Speed Commute

Aug. 14--Rehab work on a deteriorated elevated structure along the Brown and Purple/Evanston Express lines between the Near North Side and downtown will be expanded to include track upgrades starting in the spring, with the promise of finally delivering faster, more reliable trips to commuters, transit officials said Wednesday.

The CTA board awarded a $40.3 million contract to Kiewit Infrastructure Co. to overhaul tracks between the Armitage and Merchandise Mart stations that carry about 700 CTA trains daily.

It marks the second phase of more than $71 million in renovations on the slow zone-marred stretch of track, called the Ravenswood Connector, that are scheduled for completion in late 2015, officials said. The section of the "L'' is more than 100 years old and the work that ironworkers are doing is focused on replacing brackets, called flange angles, that reinforce the structure and support the tracks, officials said.

In the short-term, there will be more rider inconveniences, in the form of service disruptions during next year's work, officials said. Details will be announced closer to the start of work, but temporary weekend track closures will be necessary, officials said.

South of Armitage, CTA track crews are currently replacing some badly deteriorated rail ties to help improve train speeds until the major work is undertaken next year, officials said. However, the work, which began last fall, is requiring temporary slow zones on some sections of track to safeguard workers on the elevated structure, officials said.

About 21 percent of the Brown Line route is under slow-zone orders, requiring trains to operate at 35 mph or slower, according to the latest data provided by the transit agency. The CTA estimates that more than two-thirds of existing Brown Line slow zones will be eliminated when the project is completed.

Separately, as part of ongoing work to reduce slow zones systemwide, track improvements will be done starting Saturday until early Monday on the Brown Line between the Rockwell and Francisco stations along the bridge over the north branch of the Chicago River, officials said. It will force the suspension of train service between Western and Kimball beginning at 2:40 a.m. Saturday. Service will resume before the Monday morning rush period, officials said.

Free bus shuttle service will operate. Buses will make stops at the Western and Kimball stations. Train service between Western and the Loop will not be affected, officials said.

jhilkevitch@tribune.com

Twitter @jhilkevitch

 

 

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