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$492M Blue Line Renovation Project Begins This Weekend

CHICAGO (STMW) -- CTA Blue Line riders between O'Hare International Airport and downtown should plan to add up to 30 minutes to any trip to or from the airport this weekend.

That's because four years of intermittent weekend and overnight work on sections of the Blue Line kick off Friday night, the Sun-Times is reporting.

The $492 million "Your New Blue" project begins with suspension of Blue Line service between the Logan Square and Western Avenue stations from 10 p.m. Friday to 4 a.m. Monday.

Riders can still take the Blue Line from Logan Square toward O'Hare, but heading inbound at Logan Square they will be offered free shuttle buses to the California and Western stations.

No rail service will be available at California — only shuttles to the Logan Square and Western Avenue stations.

The Western station will feature only inbound rail service, with shuttles offered to outbound riders that will stop at the California and Logan Square stations.

In general, the shuttle buses will be "load and go'' and leave when full, but depending on the time of day that could be every 3 to 15 minutes, said CTA spokeswoman Catherine Hosinski.

Overall, due to the track work, the typical 40-minute trip between O'Hare and the Clark/Lake L station should be 20 to 30 minutes longer, Hosinski said.

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. Partial line cuts will occur sporadically over 10 weekends through August. The next weekend affected will be April 4-7, when service will be suspended between Western and Damen.

Overall, 12.5 miles of tracks are targeted for improvement between the Grand and O'Hare stations. By the end of Your New Blue, slow zones should be reduced, 13 stations should see upgrades, 4G internet and better cellphone access should be available in subway tunnels, and up to 10 minutes should be shaved off the average 40-minute trip from O'Hare to downtown, officials say.

The work represents the largest comprehensive improvement to the Blue Line since the O'Hare branch extension was built from Jefferson Park to O'Hare in 1983.

The CTA sent reminders about the project via social media on Thursday and to place multiple sandwich boards about the work near fare vending machines and turnstiles at the O'Hare station, Hosinski said.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2014. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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