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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Chicago CTA board blesses $33.8 million connector-track renovation

On Jan. 8, Chicago Transit Authority’s board approved a $33.8 million plan to renovate the 107-year-old 'L' connector track just west of Paulina that links the Green Line on Lake Street with the Cermak (Douglas) branch of the Blue Line at Congress Parkway.

The Paulina Connector project includes rehabilitation of the elevated structure and installation of a second track, third (power) rail and cab signal system. The current single-track configuration is used to shuttle cars requiring major maintenance between the Blue Line and CTA's Rail Heavy Maintenance Shop in Skokie, Ill.

Kiewit-Delgado Joint Venture, the contractor handling CTA’s Cermak (Douglas) branch Blue Line Reconstruction Project, already has workers and equipment in place to complete the connector project. Combining the two projects will provide cost and planning efficiencies, the board said in a prepared statement.

"Renovation of the Paulina Connector will provide greater flexibility in how we operate our rail system," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. "With this new set of tracks tying the Blue and Green Lines together, we will have the ability to run Cermak branch trains directly to the Loop 'L' on Lake Street, and increase the frequency of both Cermak and Forest Park Blue Line service."

Built in 1895 by CTA predecessor Metropolitan West Side Elevated Railroad, the connector track was part of the Logan Square 'L' that branched north from the mainline at Congress Street, while Garfield Park (Forest Park) trains continued west and Douglas Park (Cermak) trains turned south.

After Dearborn subway opened in 1951, service on the connector track was discontinued until 1954, when the Garfield Park 'L' was torn down in preparation for construction of the Congress (Eisenhower) Expressway.

From 1954 until service began in the expressway median in 1958, Douglas Park trains used the connector to reach the Lake Street 'L' for trips to the Loop. CTA is considering the same routing for Cermak branch trains upon completion of the Blue Line project.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/10/2003