CTA stations to receive makeovers

By Vanessa Morton

New station improvements are in sight as the Chicago Transit Authority begins a project aimed at giving city commuters a safer and more enjoyable experience.

CTA President Forrest Claypool and Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the new Station Renewal Initiative on Sept. 20. The initiative will bring complete renovations to 100 CTA rail stations during the next 12 months.

“Chicago is an international, world-class city, and my administration is committed to investing in what’s right to make sure every piece of it shines,” Emanuel said in a statement. “With this new Station Renewal Program, we’ll have cleaner, brighter, more functional stations for CTA riders.”

The project is estimated to cost $25 million—which is partially funded by $18 million saved from CTA job cuts—and restoration done at each station will be determined by the station’s set-up and specific needs.

However, station repairs can include lighting fixtures, updated security cameras, repainted surfaces and power washes on ceilings and walls.

According to Wanda Taylor, CTA spokeswoman, the stations’ repairs will be managed and performed by work crews called “Renew Crews.” In an emailed statement, she said the different crews will be dispatched to the specific stations selected for renewal.

“The Renewal Crew is a work crew comprised of different trade workers, and this crew focuses the work in a more efficient way,” Taylor said. “The crews combine to paint, repair and conduct work as a comprehensive unit rather than piecemeal, one trade at a time.”

The crews will take on the 100 stations on all rail lines, with the exception of the newly-renovated Brown Line.

Although the initiative was just recently unveiled, crews have already begun maintenance: the Logan Square Blue Line station—which opened in 1970—was the first to be completed.

The station’s improvements included power washing, repairs of lights, ceilings and walls, water management to reduce the risk of leaks and an upgrade in 19 security cameras.

According to Alderman Rey Colon (35th Ward), the whole renovation process for the Logan Square station took approximately three weeks to complete.

“Everything I’ve been requesting to get repaired seemed to happen all at the same time, so we got a glimpse of how the service works,” Colon said. “They’re sending everybody over at one time to make immediate improvements, so I’m hoping it stays this way for a really long time.”

Colon said, as a frequent el train rider, the improvements at the Logan Square station were greatly needed. He said before the renovations, the walls were dirty, an escalator was broken and leaks were coming through onto the train platform. However, he said, now it doesn’t just feel clean and orderly, but the station also provides a sense of security with the improved security cameras.

“At first it was a real eyesore, so it was unfortunate because the neighborhood is improving and that was the first impression people got,” Colon said. “So our station

desperately needed it, and to be the first recipient of this renovation, I’m as pleased as I can be.”

The next station planned to undergo transition is the California station on the Blue Line. The renewal crews are working to power wash walls, floors and ceilings, repaint old painted surfaces, repair lighting fixtures and replace damaged windbreaks and outdated signage.

Taylor said the plan will not end after the year is up, but instead, will continue to work at keeping the stations updated.

“The stations will continue to be cleaned as part of the routine maintenance,” Taylor said. “And that work will be done by the [Renew Crews] as well.”

Jennifer Martinez-Roth, the mayor’s spokeswoman, said the improvements that will be done during the next year show the CTA’s commitment to the customers of

the city.

“Every day, approximately 1.6 million riders take the CTA to and from work, school or for recreation,” Roth said. “And providing those riders with clean, reliable and safe transportation maintains a high quality of life for our residents.”