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Further details on CTA stimulus funds: Cermak rehab, Dearborn subway ties replaced

The Cermak-Chinatown station will be renovated and Dearborn subway ties replaced with funding earmearked to the CTA from President Obama's economic stimulus law.

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning OK'ed the $240 million from the CTA last week. See this post for general spending categories. In the meantime, a source provided me with some of the following details:

  • Rail car overhaul - 2600 series overhaul (300 cars).
  • Reconstruct rail station - Cermak Station renovation.
  • Replace/upgrade distribution & signal - Rehab Red Line substations.
  • Replace buses - Purchase Articulated Hybrid Buses (100 buses).
  • Infrastructure & renewal program - Dearborn subway ties.
  • Improve facilities - Various bus garage improvements.

A CTA spokesperson was unable to confirm these details from source. And she voiced a word of caution about the CMAP numbers: "The numbers in the CMAP list are estimates/placeholders.  Until we have bids/contracts we won’t know exactly how much will be allocated to these projects and that in turn impacts what is available to spend on other projects."

Meanwhile, the Government Accountability Office has named Illinois as one of the states it will be auditing and closely watching how it spends the $22.7 billion it is expected to receive in stimulus funding and tax cuts, Crain's Business reports.

And who can blame them? First, the state is set to receive the sixth-highest amount overall. Not to mention the fact it has been the laughingstock of the nation in the past few months with an impeached and ousted governor and a new senator under federal scrutiny about how he got his job.

Comments

Didn't they just rehab all the 2600's not too long ago? What exactly are they doing now?

Replace Dearborn subway ties??? Wasn't this done when the subway was slow zoned to 15mph for months and months not that long ago? Or did they just replace them in the segment under Milwaukee and this will replace them under Dearborn in the Loop?

Yet again, zero money to replace or rehab ANY tracks or station on the busiest branch in the entire system...Howard branch Red line riders get dissed again! Cermak/Chinatown was build in what...1968? Lawrence doesn't even have a station house...its a chain link fence!

Let me caution you all that none of this is set in stone, and that the CTA would not confirm what my independent source told me -- though she did say there would be "track renewal work (which is in the Dearborn Subway), bus purchases, and rail car and bus overhauls."

I will report more info as I it becomes available and can be verified -- which will probably take a few weks.

Ed -
"Replace Dearborn subway ties??? Wasn't this done when the subway was slow zoned to 15mph for months and months not that long ago? Or did they just replace them in the segment under Milwaukee and this will replace them under Dearborn in the Loop?"

Correct - this is for the Dearborn subway portion of the Blue Line, which wasn't done last year. The Milwaukee subway portion was done.

"Yet again, zero money to replace or rehab ANY tracks or station on the busiest branch in the entire system...Howard branch Red line riders get dissed again! Cermak/Chinatown was build in what...1968? Lawrence doesn't even have a station house...its a chain link fence!"

Remember, these are stimulus funds -- for SHOVEL-READY projects. They can only get money for projects that are ready to start and will provide jobs ASAP. The Red Line work, which needs to be done, would require lots of engineering time first. Hopefully, they can allocate other money to that - soon.

Re: Lawrence. Isn't there some grand plan in the works to combine Wilson and Lawrence into one station near Montrose? Berwyn, Bryn Mawr, Argyle have all recently had some work done to the stairwell enclosures and canopies. Maybe Lawrence is getting no love because it won't exist for long. Also, if memory serves, the work on Cermak/Chinatown may have something to do with installing protective barriers near the station entrance in case another semi decides to come barrelling off the expressway and miss the turn. It's likely the designs and planning for that have been in the works since the incident last year. ravenswood's right: all the projects listed are ready to go as soon as the money shows up.

"Didn't they just rehab all the 2600's not too long ago?"

1997-2002 for the major mid-life overhaul of the 2600s.

Given that the oldest 2600s are 11 years past overhaul, they probably need work -- and with the 2200s needing to be replaced ASAP and the 2400s not far behind them, *and* the extra cars needed for the Brown Line 8 car trains, they're going to need the 2600s for a while longer. The base order of 206 cars new cars would replace the ~145 2200s and add capacity, the first option of 200 more would replace the 2400s, so isn't until the 2nd and 3rd options that they'd be able to idle the 2600s.

poop deluxe

Ed & Ravenswood-

I've been poking around the CMAP website and found this document http://www.cmap.illinois.gov/WorkArea/showcontent.aspx?id=14510. It shows a project to study the "North Main Line Corridor".

BTW, the CMAP committee that oversees this, the UWP, is meeting today at 10am.

That link shouldn't have a period. try this

http://www.cmap.illinois.gov/WorkArea/showcontent.aspx?id=14510

I've never heard of any plans to make Wilson and Lawrence into 1 station. Plus, I'm not sure that makes a lot of sense anyway. There are a lot of concert-goers using that station. Plus, Lawrence did get some rehab work done to it, just not as much as the others since there is less infrastructure to update, since there is no actual station.

That being said, the Lawrence stop really needs a station. It's ridiculous that it is simply a chain-link fence. I could even cope with it if they made it nicer, like a nice steel fence, but chainlink makes it look so bad.

[Isn't there some grand plan in the works to combine Wilson and Lawrence into one station near Montrose?]

Goodness, I hope not, since Montrose of course is a couple blocks south of Wilson. This would in no way serve the interests of riders at Lawrence - it would have the effect of re-routing them to Argyle - and make it tougher for the Truman students in the process.

Hard to see a benefit to that plan, other than having one fewer stop.

What!?! Why wouldn't replacing the rotting ties and other track components on the North Red line be considered shovel-ready??? Last time I checked an engineering study was not needed in order to replace railroad ties. The slow zones on Red through Rogers Park have been there for years and now the Northbound Purple express track through Edgewater is one long slow zone. Its a disgrace to have an "Express" train get passed by the local making stops.

Also, with regard to a rehab of the line...they will not be satisfied until the Red line is close to being shut down North of Wilson due to the condition of the concrete structure. I think this is the plan, because then they can threaten that the line is in grave danger of shutdown and it will then qualify for new start rehab funds instead of it being routine ongoing maintenance and renewal. This is exactly what happened to the Cermak branch of the Pink line. Total neglect until it is ready to fall down, then it is eligible for federal rehab dollars as a major transit project.

[Why wouldn't replacing the rotting ties and other track components on the North Red line be considered shovel-ready??? Last time I checked an engineering study was not needed in order to replace railroad ties.]

Perhaps this work is already ongoing? There's still a lot to do but several a lot of progress has already been made. The NB Red Line now runs well pretty much all the way from Wilson to Loyola. All that's left to do is the Addison-Sheridan stretch (including the Irving Park curve), which is being done, the short stretch between Montrose and Wilson, and the stretch through Rogers Park, and the NB Red Line will be great all the way from downtown to Howard. It's in far better shape than it was a year ago.

The SB Red Line is in almost as good of shape.

I agree that the Purple Line is in bad shape, but before we fly off into an outrage, do we know that rehab work hasn't already been budgeted for? Do they need the federal funds to do this, or is it already planned after the Red Line work is complete?

Or is progress already being made, like it is on the Red Line? I don't ride the Purple Line much so I don't notice day-to-day changes like I do on the Red Line.

With an articulated hybrid bus now going for at least $900,000 each,* $55 million does not buy 100, but probably the 58 CB mentioned.

I also wonder about saying the 2600s will be rehabbed. They might need some work, but the 3200s are now 15-16 years old and due for midlife rehab. But that might not be "shovel ready."

____
*The lease, according to PowerPoint, was for $800,000 per bus, and NF supposedly gave a deal over the going price then of $860K. http://www.transitchicago.com/assets/1/board_presentations/0712presidentsreport.pdf

http://www.transitchicago.com/news/default.aspx?Archive=y&pg=7&ArticleId=241

Combining the Wilson and Lawrence avenue stations absolutely makes sense. The two stations are a half a block from each other. If one wishes to state that it "makes it tougher" on Truman students to walk less than half a block instead of about ten feet then my only reaction is that this would not be my definition of "making it tougher". And nobody would use Argyle as a result of this change. The choice would be a station a quarter block south of what they used to use or around four blocks north. This would also speed up travel times and reduce expenses for the CTA. A new station here perhaps shouldn't be at the absolute top of the priority list in terms of capital projects. But it would be a good idea to combine the two stations into one. I certainly hope the CTA doesn't end up spending the money to do major rehabs of both stations.

Martha wrote: "Re: Lawrence. Isn't there some grand plan in the works to combine Wilson and Lawrence into one station near Montrose?"

strannix wrote: "Goodness, I hope not, since Montrose of course is a couple blocks south of Wilson."

MK wrote: "Combining the Wilson and Lawrence avenue stations absolutely makes sense. The two stations are a half a block from each other. ..."

As I read it, the objections were to the idea of combining Lawrence (4800 north) and Wilson (4600 north) into a station near Montrose (4400 north). That would indeed cause a lot of inconvenience and would make no sense. (And I can remember a time, not too many years ago, when I'd have felt compelled to add: "... and is therefore what the CTA will most likely do." Hopefully we're past that now, at least.)

Combining Wilson and Lawrence at either present location or some point between them, though, that does make sense. I'm all for lots of rail access, but the cost in staffing, maintenance, and slowdowns of these stations a quarter of a mile apart (I'm looking at you, Brown Line) outweighs the gain in access in my opinion.

Moving the station to Montrose makes little sense for the mass amounts of people that attend concerts off the Lawrence stop. This is a very dense area and probably will retain 2 stops. According to December 2008 stats, Wilson was one of the fastest growing red line stations with a year-over-year ridership increase of 9.7%.

[Combining the Wilson and Lawrence avenue stations absolutely makes sense. The two stations are a half a block from each other.]

Try two blocks. Not half a block.

And if you re-read what I wrote, you'll notice that my objection was the idea of relocating the stop to Montrose. Since you're off talking about a new station a "quarter block" (whatever that means) away from the current Lawrence stop, I'm guessing you overlooked this small detail.

I'm not against combining the two stops if the plan makes more sense.

On the subject of spending lots of money to put/keep rail stations on top of one another, it's really a shame that the $ that will be used to build a station at Wellington won't instead be used to either create a United Center stop on the Pink Line or else to build a walkway of some sort between the Polk (Pink) and Ill. Medical District (Blue) stations, which are also almost on top of one another, but in a useful way insofar as linking them up would be realistic.

Once Wellington is reconstructed, I think anyone who gets a running start will be able to jump from the southern end of the Belmont platform to the northern end of the Wellington platform. It should be really neat that way.

Not with you on this one, Irk. More transit dependent users need Wellington to get to the hospital than sports fans and concert-goers need a Pink Line stop at the United Center.

Looking at the map, it appears that the Pink Line is actually fairly far from the United Center -- vast canyons of parking lots separate the two. Parking lots mean lots of cars, which makes it less than perfectly safe to walk all that distance. Also, the vast parking lots mean that area isn't densely populated. If not many people live there and if buses are currently doing a good enough job getting people to the United Center, I'm not sure how much benefit a station there is going to do, even though it does sound good to have rail access for a major stadium.

But I'm no expert!

The 19 does a great job of moving those not driving to the United Center in and out. A permanent rail stop doesn't make much sense given the number of UC patrons that use transit (not many) and the availability of buses.

[it's really a shame that the $ that will be used to build a station at Wellington won't instead be used to either create a United Center stop on the Pink Line or else to build a walkway of some sort between the Polk (Pink) and Ill. Medical District (Blue) stations]

It's my understanding that the funding doesn't really work that way. The CTA got that money specifically to rebuild the Brown Line. It's not like they can decide to use that money for whatever else they want - they rebuild Wellington with it or they lose it. See the Green Line reconstruction during the 90s for a look at this concept in action.

Besides which, yeah, what Martha said.

Beyond that, I know at one time there was a Madison Pink Line stop in the Circle Line plans. I'm not sure what the status on that is.

People who use transit seem to be able to get to the rest of the hospitals throughout the city, even though most of them do not have a train station 1/2 block away. The Advocate hospital is about two blocks from Belmont and Diversey, and the #8 bus stops at its doorstep. And in any event, Wellington as it has existed was not accessible anyway, thus making it unusable to a significant fraction of those going to the hospital anyway.

As for the Madison stop idea: (1) if you read my post, you'll notice that I never suggested that the CTA has the ability to shift brown line reconstruction funds - I said it's unfortunate that the money will be spent on Wellington rather than on the other lines I mentioned; (2) assuming the United Center isn't 100% valet parking, the fact that there's a parking lot where the Pink Line passes by suggests that there are quite a few UC users who are willing to walk out to where the Pink Line is; (3) while little is growing right now, the not-quite-in-the-Loop areas such as those near the Paulina segment of the Pink line are areas where density is clearly increasing (this is debatable but hardly a crazy proposition - the Circle Line project is partly premised on it).

In any event, I mostly threw the Madison/Pink idea out there as an example of gaps in rail lines where a station could more usefully be placed than wedging Wellington back in between Belmont/Diversey. There are probably new stations or station reconfigurations that would be more compelling than something at the United Center, but my overriding point is that almost anything would be more compelling than Wellington, which, except for the fact that it used to be there, almost no one would propose as a site for building a rail station.

"you'll notice that my objection was the idea of relocating the stop to Montrose... I'm guessing you overlooked this small detail."

Yeah, that's basically correct. Even I get careless sometimes. Obviously, removing the Wilson and Lawrence stations and replacing it with one at Montrose makes much less sense than any number of alternatives.

"A permanent rail stop doesn't make much sense given the number of UC patrons that use transit (not many) and the availability of buses."

I'm not sure why you believe that the number of people using transit to the United Center would stay anywhere close to constant if a good rail option was added. I'm sure you are aware of how many people use the Red Line to go to U.S. Cellular Field. That is pretty comparable to the U.C. in regards to parking availability and access to the highway (which is why it would be silly for me to use Wrigley Field as a comparisant). A bus needs to stay in traffic like everyone else. It would be much more convenient to take a Pink Line train to and from the U.C. Therefore, the amount of people taking transit would likely be at minimum five times more than now. I would assume that you would like that considering you once mentioned that you were "shuddering" at someone's suggestion of driving a car rather than taking a bus to Rockford.

Let's face it, rebuilding a station at Wellington was a truly ridiculous thing to do. Yes, that mostly came from federal funds. But please remember that this is our tax money as well. We should be just as outraged when federal money goes to rather worthless purposes as we are when local and state money does. And whether specific projects are seperate and whether they use federal or local monies the reality is spending it somewhere where there are little to no benefits prevents money from being spent where it makes a lot of sense. People need to be more outraged when money is wasted.

[if you read my post, you'll notice that I never suggested that the CTA has the ability to shift brown line reconstruction funds - I said it's unfortunate that the money will be spent on Wellington rather than on the other lines I mentioned]

Duly noted, although this seems like a distinction without much of a difference. What's the use of complaining about how the money should be spent of Y instead of X if there's no option to spend it that way?

[Let's face it, rebuilding a station at Wellington was a truly ridiculous thing to do.]

No, it's not. The ridership is there to justify it. If I've said this once, I've said it a hundred times: there are more factors to consider than how close things are together.

[And in any event, Wellington as it has existed was not accessible anyway, thus making it unusable to a significant fraction of those going to the hospital anyway.]

It will be accessible once the station is redone, so perhaps even more patients will be able to get to the hospital via the Brown Line.

[Let's face it, rebuilding a station at Wellington was a truly ridiculous thing to do.]

It wouldn't have been rebuilt but for the presence of the hospital, I imagine. It used to be my station, and I would see a lot patients and employees (judging by the scrubs they were wearing) exiting southbound trains at Wellington every morning, so I think the rebuilding was justified. Advocate Illinois Masonic is a huge hospital with a huge physician office building and, therefore, is a huge employer and a huge transit destination. I'd also note that, when only one of Diversey or Wellington stations was availble during three-tracking, the remaning station was very crowded during rush hours -- more so than I see on my new commute on the Blue Line as I pass Damen and Western and at my new stop at California.

[The 19 does a great job of moving those not driving to the United Center in and out. A permanent rail stop doesn't make much sense given the number of UC patrons that use transit (not many) and the availability of buses.]

I agree with MK that this would change if rail were a better option for getting to the United Center. When the Pink Line began using that Paulina stretch of track, I, too, thought that a station there, even a bare-bones one, would be a good idea. My thoughts, however, were probably more as a semi-regular frequenter of the UC than as a resident in the neighborhood. There seems to be more support for building a Green Line station at Damen (Western is suggested at times, too), although some call for a Pink Line stop near the UC as well. Links to follow:

http://www.reconnectingneighborhoods.org/neighborhood/nearwest/research.asp

http://www.metroplanning.org/articleDetail.asp?objectID=4766

http://chicagojournal.com/print.asp?ArticleID=6554&SectionID=1&SubSectionID=60

"I'm not sure why you believe that the number of people using transit to the United Center would stay anywhere close to constant if a good rail option was added. I'm sure you are aware of how many people use the Red Line to go to U.S. Cellular Field."

I believe it, MK, because I patronize both establishments on a regular basis. Do I have hard data? No, but like so much that goes on here at the Tattler, I'm relying on anecdotal data gathered from observation.

As for the shuddering thing, I was replying specifically to rockfordphile's comment about people getting off the L, renting a car and going to Rockford. I'm all about carefreeness, MK. My comment about UC patrons was based on transportation patterns that I've observed, not my beliefs about transportation choices.

We've hashed this Wellington argument to death before already. Just because other hospitals don't have rail access doesn't mean this one shouldn't.

While they're at it, can't they get wheel-truing machines for the rail cars? I am sick and tired of having them clank all the time, and ride like unsprung carts over a field of stubble, and make so much noise that your hearing is damaged, and vibrate the elevate structures so much that you fear for their integrity.

"I would see a lot patients and employees (judging by the scrubs they were wearing) exiting southbound trains at Wellington every morning, so I think the rebuilding was justified. Advocate Illinois Masonic is a huge hospital with a huge physician office building and, therefore, is a huge employer and a huge transit destination."

And you don't see these people now that the station is closed and people need to walk two blocks instead of 50 feet? I certainly do. And I also see many doctors walking the eight blocks or so from the Chicago Avenue red line station to Northwester Memorial Hosital. The CTA still serves the Illinois Mesionic Hospital with the Belmont and Diversey stations. And that is what should have continued to happen. Wasting millions of dollers to rebuild a station that is just a few blocks from others in both direction is utterly ludicrous.

Quite frankly, I think it is abdonomitable that resources were wasted on this. Yes, it is a dense area. But there is expanded capacity at the other two stations and it could easilly handle this density. There is only a limited amount of money available. Some people seem to forget this. Every doller spent of something silly is a doller that could be spent on something worthwhile. There are many areas that could use more stations, for example the aformentioned United Center as well as the West Loop and South Loop. It doesn't matter that the way this was structured makes it so it is not easy to have simply transferred funds from rebuilding Wellington to building worthwhile stations. All of us as taxpayers pay for all the projects that are payed for. Since there is a limited amount of money (even when the federal government runs deficits), wasteful spending prevents funds being used for good purposes. And that causes problems for everyone.

Belmont should have been built slight farther to the south with an entrance on Barry.

Also, when is track 4 going to be fixed on the evanston express?

"We've hashed this Wellington argument to death before already. Just because other hospitals don't have rail access doesn't mean this one shouldn't."

Well that's persuasive.

Anyhow, I've always thought that even within the unfortunate constraint that the funds involved can only be used on the brown line, there still would have been better places along the line to put a station. Merchandise Mart and Chicago are around 3/4 of a mile apart, and Sedgewick and Chicago are about 1 mile apart. Even taking density into account, those are more compelling gaps to fill than the gap between Belmont/Diversey (1/2 mile).

Plus, rail stations should be built with the next decade or two in mind, not just the present. The area between Belmont and Diversity is about as dense as it's going to get, since folks up there are finicky about keeping the scale of buildings small. That's not the case in the downtown or near-downtown areas between Sedgwick/Chicago/Merchandise Mark; indeed there are big buildings there and more have been going up in recent years. Density there will increase - and that trend would be assisted by denser rail station placement.

Just a reminder, Stillwaiting, that there is a station between Sedgwick and Chicago. The fact that it isn't on the brown line doesn't matter as the two lines end up in the same place at roughly a mile in each direction, with easy transfer abilities at that point. Also, keep in mind that it isn't correct that the closest station to the north of Merchindise Mart is at Chicago Avenue. It is at Superior.

Building a station at either of the two points you suggest makes little more sense than rebuilding Wellington. Rail service is supposed to be somewhat fast. It makes no sense to have stops every few blocks. Most people don't mind walking a few minutes longer anyway. If you ask those people halfway between the Merchindise Mart and Superior if they think they have good rail service I bet the overwhelming majority would say yes.

Regarding Wellington. Demolish the station and make two ramps, one to Belmont and one to Diversey, from Wellington (heck, even have this ramp/walkway connect directly to the hospital). This solves EVERYONE'S problem (access to Wellington, access to the hospital, reduced # of stations, handicaped access, "faster" trains due to less stops, etc). Arguments against this need to look at, well, any station really on the Congress branch, in which ramps cover the length of two blocks.

"We've hashed this Wellington argument to death before already. Just because other hospitals don't have rail access doesn't mean this one shouldn't."

"Well that's persuasive."

It's exactly as persuasive as saying that other hospitals don't have rail access and get along just fine, which is not a compelling argument (and is what I was pointing out). That is the reason given that we should not have a Wellington station. Apparently you see my point and agree with me...

Chris,

It is utterly ludicrous to say thar the hospital would not have rail access without the Wellington stop. The f----ng Belmont station is just two blocks away, for Christ's sake. Try thinking about whether your arguments have the slightest semblence of reality before you post.

I wonder who is going to get the contracts? Alot of Aldridge Electric guys out of work? Wasnt Aldride Elec. being investigated with the Blago about campaign Cash?

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