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CTA promises replacement of Blue Line track at Belmont will be a crossover success

6:06 PM CST on February 17, 2023

The Belmont Crossover. Photo: CTA

Things are tough for Blue Line commuters nowadays, since the CTA recently made deep cuts to scheduled service, leading to long waits between trains, and packed railcars and crowded platforms during rush hours, especially on the O'Hare branch.

A recent 27-minute headway at the California station of the O'Hare branch. Photo: Gin Kilgore
A recent 27-minute headway at the California station of the O'Hare branch. Photo: Gin Kilgore

Yet another rough patch is approaching, as the transit agency announced today it's about to shut down service between the Addison and Western stations on weekends to accommodate work to replace a 50-year-old track section. But the CTA promises the hassle will be worth it in the long run, as the project will improve reliability and service.

The shutdowns will affect weekend service starting at the end of this month and lasting through May. The CTA says the work will improve service on one of the busiest 'L' corridors and help accommodate future ridership increases.

Workers will replace the Belmont crossover, which was built with the Kimball Subway section of the Blue Line in 1970. According to the CTA, the crossover has deteriorated after half a century of use, to the extent that it can no longer be repaired.

The crossover allows the CTA to transfer trains between both sets of tracks, and allows for rerouting trains to or from a set of tracks to facilitate maintenance, without shutting down 'L' service. The agency says doing this work sooner than later will reduce delays and decrease the amount of upkeep needed to keep the crossover functioning safely and effectively, so this is an "a stitch in time saves nine" situation.

The project area. Image: CTA
The project area. Image: CTA

The work will start on the weekend of Friday, February 24, with up to eight other weekends planned through the end of May. Construction will mostly be done between 10 p.m. Friday nights and 4 a.m. Monday mornings, if the weather allows, so it won't impact 9-to-5 commutes.

The Belmont, Logan Square, and California stations will be shut down next weekend. The CTA will bus passengers between the Addison and Western stops on the O’Hare branch, with the bus making stops at all the closed stations. This will likely add a significant chunk of time to the trip, so keep that in mind if you have a plane to catch at O'Hare Airport.

In the future, Belmont, Logan Square, and California stations may be completely or partly closed. During full closures, shuttles be used to fill in the gaps.

The project will also involve temporarily relocating some bus stops to make room for staging construction equipment. The CTA is posting customer alerts are at all affected bus stops and train stations.

You can keep abreast of the upcoming station closures by checking the alerts on the CTA website.

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