Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CTA President Forrest Claypool today announced a 4-year renovation plan for the CTA Blue Line’s O’Hare branch.
Unlike the Red Line renovation, the Blue Line project does not involve a shutdown. But the project is more extensice and complicated since the O’Hare branch serves over 30,000 riders every day.
Over $140 million of the $492 million for what the city calls “Your New Blue” will go toward station improvements. Almost every stop between Grand and Cumberland will see some type of updating renovation.
The O’Hare branch has not had any extensive work in 30 years, ever since service was extended from Jefferson Park to O’Hare in 1983. Over the decades aging tracks have forced the CTA to institute slow zones limiting train speeds to just 15 miles an hour in some spots, instead of a top speed of 55 miles an hour. Track repairs will eventually cut the commute from downtown to O’Hare by about 10 minutes.
The plan outlined today also includes replacement of all signals and subway improvements. It will also finally bring continuous 4G cell service to riders along the O’Hare branch.
Due to a shifting population ridership along the O’Hare branch has grown by over 25% over the past five years.
The Blue Line project is expected to create more than 1,400 jobs over the next four years. Project schedules are still being finalized, but the city says track work will kick things off early next year.
The project is being funded with city, state and federal sources.