CTA will begin the largest and latest project as part of Mayor Emanuel’s ongoing program to upgrade the O’Hare branch of the Blue Line, one of CTA’s fastest-growing rail lines
Agency plans major upgrade of rail signal system between Jefferson Park and O’Hare, replacing original 34-year-old system to improve quality of Blue Line service for customers
The CTA today said it is moving forward with its largest project to date that is part of Mayor Emanuel’s Your New Blue, a $492 million modernization of the busy Blue Line O’Hare branch that includes major station renovations to track improvements that will make commuting more comfortable, reliable and convenient and will reduce round-trip commutes by up to 10 minutes. The announcement follows this week’s successful opening of the first of two new bus and rail terminals at 95th Street on the Red Line, as part of the CTA’s $280 million 95th Street Terminal Improvement Project.
The Chicago Transit Board today awarded a $152.9 million contract to Kiewit-Aldridge AJV through a competitive bidding process for a $207 million track signal improvement project on the Blue Line, the first major signal upgrade since the Blue Line was extended by eight miles from Jefferson Park to O’Hare in the early 1980s.
Similar to a street traffic signal network, a rail signal system is critical to managing the flow of trains and directing railway traffic to provide quick, safe and reliable train customers to the nearly 90,000 people who ride the O’Hare branch daily. Track signals provide critical information to rail operators that help keep trains running smoothly and safely, including alerts to slow down, stop or proceed. Train signals transmit real-time information that powers CTA’s Train Tracker’s real-time train arrival information for customers.
“The Blue Line O’Hare branch has been a workhorse of the CTA rail system for more than 30 years, and has continually contributed to the improvements in communities along the line,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “As ridership has grown, we are committed to making the investments necessary that provide better rail service to our Blue Line customers through the number of projects that have been completed and are still to come.”
The signal project is one of several projects in Your New Blue that will help the CTA improve service, including improving service reliability and increasing our ability to add train service during the busiest part of the rush periods.
Completed Your New Blue projects:
- Track improvement work between Logan Square and Damen, 2014
- Major renovations of Damen, Western and California stations, 2015
- Major renovations of stations at Addison, Irving Park, Montrose, Harlem and Cumberland, including adding an elevator at Addison to making it full accessible, 2016
- Jefferson Park and Belmont station renovations – work begins in spring 2018
- Track signal work between Jefferson Park and O’Hare
- Renovations of Grand, Division and Chicago stations
- Substation upgrades that increases power to run trains
- Blue Line subway water mitigation project
In addition to the Your New Blue projects, CTA is also making additional enhancements to Blue Line service, including:
- Ordering new 7000-series trains to replace trains that have been in service since the 1980s.
- CTA’s FastTracks program includes funding to reduce slow zones in the Blue Line O’Hare branch subway and for additional substation traction power improvements.
CTA and Mayor Emanuel in 2013 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. One of the fastest-growing segments on CTA’s rail system, station entries along the O’Hare Blue Line branch have consistently topped more than 26 million annually for each of the last five years.