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February 26, 2014

Chicago Transit to kick off Blue Line improvement

Next month, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) will begin the first project for the “Your New Blue” improvement program for the Blue Line O’Hare branch — a $492 million program to provide faster, smoother commutes and improved stations along the Blue Line’s O’Hare Branch.

Announced in December 2013, Your New Blue includes a number of track and station improvement projects along the 12.5-mile stretch of the O’Hare Branch between the Grand and O’Hare stations. The program is the largest, most comprehensive investment in the Blue Line since the O'Hare branch was extended to the airport from Jefferson Park in 1983-84.

“Your New Blue represents a huge investment in CTA riders and visitors traveling to Chicago via O’Hare and the many vibrant communities along the North and Northwest Sides,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “These long-overdue improvements are part of Mayor Emanuel’s efforts to modernize our transit system for the 21st century.”

Your New Blue is part of more than $4 billion in transit improvements announced by Mayor Emanuel since taking office in 2011, including projects to build new rail stations and modernize others, purchase new buses and railcars, and continue investments in technology to benefit customers and provide a better commuting experience.

The first phase of Your New Blue involves replacing wooden rail ties, tie plates and other track materials on the Milwaukee elevated track structure between the Damen and Logan Square stops — a section of line that opened in 1895 and still sits on the original structure. That work will require 10 temporary, weekend-only closures of small sections of the Blue Line, tentatively scheduled between March and August.

Later in 2014, the CTA will begin rehabilitation projects at the Western, Damen and California rail stations — the latter two of which date back to 1895. Project schedules are still being finalized for that work.

In all, the four-year Your New Blue program will upgrade 13 stations, including adding a new elevator at Addison; improve tracks and signals; install new water-management systems and repairs to ensure dry and clean subway stations; and upgrade traction power to improve service and reliability.

Funding for Your New Blue is being provided by a variety of local, state and federal sources, including $86 million from Gov. Pat Quinn’s Jump Start program.

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