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California, Damen Blue Line stations to close for rehab

A rendering shows improvements planned for CaliforniStatiCTA's Blue Line.  |  Provided

A rendering shows improvements planned for the California Station on the CTA's Blue Line. | Provided

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Updated: September 12, 2014 6:16AM

The California station on the Blue Line will close for six weeks this fall and the Damen station will be shut down for nine weeks during much of the Christmas holiday shopping season as part of the CTA’s “Your New Blue” upgrade.

The California station will be shut from Sept. 4 to Oct. 16 and the Damen station will close from Oct. 20 to Dec. 22 as both station undergo extensive renovations, officials said.

During the closures, the CTA will have additional No. 56 Milwaukee bus service for the weekday morning and evening rush periods and an overnight “owl” service to link the closest stations to the shuttered stations, the agency said in a news release Monday.

The CTA offered riders free shuttle buses during weekend track work that began in March as part of the upgrade to the Blue Line’s O’Hare International Airport branch. But it will not be offering free shuttles during station shutdowns, CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase said.

“Shuttles are always provided during track closures, but for station closures we look at each project individually,’’ Chase said.

“In this case, there is good complementary bus service, so we are augmenting our No. 56 Milwaukee bus service.’’

Chase noted that shuttles were not offered during 2012 Red Line North station work, nor during Brown Line station work that ended in 2010.

The California and Damen stations, built in the late 1800s, are among the oldest in the CTA system, officials said. The Western station on the Blue Line also dates to that era, but it underwent a major renovation in 2001, so less intensive improvements to that station will allow it to remain open during construction, officials said.

At the California and Damen stations, rehab work will provide new and additional bike racks and turnstiles; improved lighting and signs; upgrades to the station houses and platforms; and new public artwork. Historic features will be preserved and restored.

Streets and alleys will be temporarily closed during station construction, and parking will face additional restrictions, but Chase said those details will be provided closer to actual station shutdowns.

The $494 million “Your New Blue” project aims to shave 10 minutes off trips between downtown and O’Hare while providing improvements to 13 Blue Line stations. It marks the most comprehensive investment in the line’s O’Hare branch since its extension from Jefferson Park to the airport debuted in 1984.

During the work, the CTA said another alternative may be the city’s Divvy bike-sharing program. Divvy stations are located near the California and Damen stations, the agency noted in its news release.


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