Two of the CTA’s oldest rail stations will receive major renovations and a third will receive upgrades starting in September, as part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s $492 million Your New Blue modernization program for the O’Hare branch of the Blue Line.
The $33 million station improvement plan for California, Western, and Damen will provide customers a safer, more comfortable transit experience, and are part of the ongoing modernization of CTA train and bus service across the city.
In order to complete the major repairs and improvements planned for the California and Damen stationhouses and platforms, the CTA has previously said it will be necessary to close both stations to complete the extensive work. The Western station underwent a major renovation in 2001 and needs less extensive improvements and repairs, so the station will remain open throughout the construction period. The California, Damen and Western stations were all built in the late 1800s and are among the oldest on the CTA system. Station closures are as follows:
- California will close for 42 days on Sept. 4 and will reopen Oct. 16.
- Damen will close for 63 days on Oct. 20 and will reopen Dec. 22.
California and Damen will both get extensive stationhouse and platform upgrades and repairs that include structural repairs as well as improved lighting, signage, more turnstiles and new bike racks. Historic features of the stations will be preserved and restored.
All three stations will receive new, one-of-a-kind public artwork, to be installed following the completion of the station improvement project.
To assist customers affected by station closures, the CTA will add additional #56 Milwaukee bus service during weekday morning and evening rush periods, and add “owl” service during the overnight hours to link the closest stations in either direction of the shuttered station.
In addition, Divvy, a program of the Chicago Department of Transportation, is Chicago’s bike sharing system and may be a great alternative for customers during this period. There are Divvy stations located near California, including California-Milwaukee and Rockwell-Milwaukee; and Damen, including Milwaukee-Wabansia, Damen-Pierce and Leavitt-North.
Temporary street and alley closures and parking restrictions that are necessary to complete construction work will be announced closer to the project start date. The CTA will work closely with local elected officials and community members to communicate all project information and impacts to customers and residents.
The station work follows extensive track upgrades that are also part of the Your New Blue project. Track improvements began in March on the branch to increase speed and reliability of service and are expected to be completed in September.
In December 2013, the CTA and Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Your New Blue, the most ambitious service improvement project on the Blue Line since it was extended to O'Hare Airport in 1984. The program will benefit the more than 80,000 customers who each weekday use stations along the branch, which had 25 million rides last year. Your New Blue will update a total of 13 Blue Line stations, make elevated and subway infrastructure upgrades, track signal improvements and traction power upgrades.