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Added Aug 16 2011

Does anyone know if there is a plan to replace the deteriorating CTA Brown Line platforms?

I'd certainly be willing to give up my station for a few days for a total platform replacement.

I've asked @ctabrown and @ChicagosMayor... I've asked Alderman Mell's office as well.

  • AlbanyParkMom Community gardener, 11-year resident

    All of the Brown Line was redone just a few years ago. What station is this?

  • _Gretchen Horner Park West homeowner.

    The pictures are from the Francisco platform. The platforms of the stations that were redone first (street level stations) are a wreck. They've been replacing sections piecemeal, but every day a new board is splintering. This morning, there were several boards that were so splintered, your foot could go all the way through. The deterioration is especially bad this summer - lots of rain.

  • Inactive user

    They never sealed the platforms. Genius. I doubt they're going to do anything about it any time soon.

  • _Gretchen Horner Park West homeowner.

    I have also contacted the CTA's customer service (feedback@transitchicago.com).

    I'll let ya know if I hear from anyone...

  • Patty Lincoln Square neighbor

    Here's a report from the Better Government Association: http://www.bettergov.org/renovated_l_platforms_require_costly_repairs_as_wood_planks_deteriorate_after_2_years/

    I spoke to a CTA worker last winter when I saw them replacing planks. He was the one who tipped me off that the CTA had opted for fire-resistant wood when what they needed was weather-resistant. I don't know why this wasn't a bigger story at the time. I'm at the Rockwell stop and have also worried my foot might punch through a board. Total sham for all the money spent to upgrade these stations.

  • Against The Grain Lincoln Square

    My foot did punch through a board at Rockwell in May. Why they made the beautiful shelter, and then went cheap-o on the wood planking is beyond me.

    But, to go back to your original question, it does not appear to be on the docket:

    http://www.transitchicago.com/about/transit_board_meetings/boardpresentations.aspx

    It doesn't seem to get mentioned in any of the construction presentations.

    So, your next step is to bring it up to those that matter. Chris Bushell is the head of infrastructure at the CTA. Call Bushell's office, and ask to talk to someone there about it. If you do not get a call-back, start documenting the more egregious holes, and send them to Jon Hilkevitch at the Trib - this kind of story is right up his alley.

  • Brigid Lived in AP for a year in 1999, moved back in 2009

    Oh man, I was at Francisco the other day, and the dry rot situation is APPALLING. I'm not the OP, but thanks for all the suggestions as to Things To Do.

  • Inactive user

    I think the new metalwork and girding at the Montrose station is in a similar state of rapid deterioration. Glad to see Chicago is building to last....a few years.

  • Liz Albany Park resident

    I second the suggestion of contacting Jon Hilkevitch (jhilkevitch@tribune.com). Not only is transportation his beat, he's a good writer.

  • _Gretchen Horner Park West homeowner.

    Thank you Against The Grain. I emailed Mr. Bushell and copied Jon Hilkevitch and yourproblem@tribune.com.

  • _Gretchen Horner Park West homeowner.

    Please duplicate my efforts and contact your alderman, the CTA, the Tribune!

    Here is a starter list:

    Alderman Mell, 33rd Ward: rfmell@33rdward.org
    CTA Customer Service: feedback@transitchicago.com
    Chris Bushell, Chief Infrastructure Officer of the CTA: CBushell@transitchicago.com
    Chicago Tribune: yourproblem@tribune.com
    Jon Hilkevitch, Chicago Tribune: jhilkevitch@tribune.com

    Twitter:
    @ChicagosMayor
    @ctabrown
    @33rdWardALERT

  • gerigirl I live and breathe this city!

    You should all go see the L station at Cook County Hospital....no ESCALATORS or ELEVATORS....so sick people can hobble up steep stairs to the street, while other stations get ROCK STAR TREATMENT! It's outrageous how the sick are treated at that L station! Hang your head DALEY.... IN SHAME!

  • _Gretchen Horner Park West homeowner.

    I received a response from Mr. Bushell:

    "We inspect platforms weekly and repair based on findings. The most urgent repairs are made on the spot while others may take longer depending on condition and location. Based on your request we are sending out carpenters immediately to inspect. Please contact CTA at feedback@transitchicago.com or 1888YOURCTA for further inquiries."

    Please report your broken platforms too!

  • Inactive user

    Personally I'd like to see the Irving Park station get an elevator, but I guess it's more important for the Addison Brown Line stop to get artistic embellishments.

  • AlbanyParkMom Community gardener, 11-year resident

    GapersBlock.com is spreading the word about the issue: http://gapersblock.com/merge/archives/2011/08/16/next-stop-deterioration/

  • Liz Albany Park resident

    @Tim: there's no elevator at Irving? I'm pretty sure they were required to install those when they redid all these stations.
    Unless you're not talking about the Brown Line...?

  • Inactive user

    Yeah, sorry, I'm talking about the IP Blue Line Stop. No elevators.

  • gerigirl I live and breathe this city!

    REQUIRED.... elevator........when putting a L stop next to a hospital......common decency!

  • Against The Grain Lincoln Square

    @gerigeri

    The Polk/Medical Center el stop has dual ADA certified elevators. Its about a horse a piece from the Blue Line Stop you are talking about and this Pink Line stop.

    Should both stops have them? Yes.

    But, unless you live on the West Side Blue Line, you are going to have to go back into the Loop, so it might actually be better to take the Pink Line back in to the city, and board whatever train back to the South, North, SW Side area you need, and deal with the better transit transfer spots for the handicapped (Clark/Lake), then digging out of the antiquated Blue Line stations downtown.

  • _Gretchen Horner Park West homeowner.

    Chatted with Francisco's station attendant on my commute home and she confirmed that the CTA came out and inspected the platform today. I'll let you know when I see the new repairs, fingers crossed!

  • _Gretchen Horner Park West homeowner.

    This morning, the Francisco platform has caution tape tied around the splintering boards.

  • gerigirl I live and breathe this city!

    BRAVO FOR GRETCHEN! Nice follow up to getting the problem resolved....good job! You may have saved someones life down the road...glad you took the initiative!

  • Inactive user

    What a disaster. $500 million later and boards are already rotting out. Good job following up. Everyone owes you an attaboy (attawoman?).

    Another good place to highlight issues like this is CTA Tattler. It is one of the Chicago Now blogs. Although the Chicago Now brand is generally terrible, it is a good one.

  • Patty Lincoln Square neighbor

    I write for the Center Square Journal. I'll try to post a piece on this--with Bushnell's contact info.

  • I used to live off the Francisco stop and after the new platform were put in, I was so excited. Then I saw them and the first thing I notice were that the platforms were flat. They were not built with any incline so the water would drain off. So the water and snow and ice just pool on the top causing the board to rot and for the platforms to be very dangerous when the weather turns cold. I'm not even an architect and could tell that they were poorly designed for drainage. Not to mention the lack of putting in any additional overhangs which would have helped the commuters as well as covering some of the platform itself from the elements.

  • ed

    Good job Gretchen. You have the thanks of myself and all of my employees that use that stop to get to work every day.

  • Doug Grew up in south burbs and 9-year northsider

    It's been a few years but if I remember right, I believe that cost-overruns and the CTA's deteriorating finances resulted in the Brown Line overhaul having significant cutbacks mid-project. The short canopies and mediocre finish materials were one result. I don't remember the wood platform decking being mentioned but it wouldn't surprise me.

  • Sure, by all means report these issues to the CTA. But contact your state legislators and the governor, too. Public transit has been dramatically underfunded, forcing the CTA to accomplish a lot with relatively little.

  • _Gretchen Horner Park West homeowner.

    On this evening's commute home, I walked the Francisco platform. The boards that had holes all the way through have been replaced. Other boards are marked with caution tape. Still more boards are falling apart. I took many pictures and have posted them to this photo stream:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/39461856@N08/sets/72157627448526950/

    I did not take pictures of every deteriorating board... there are many more.

    I will send this link to our previously identified contacts (above) in a few minutes.

    If your platform is a mess too, please take pictures! Post them here - send them on - help us get these issues taken care of!

    Thanks neighbors!

  • AlbanyParkMom Community gardener, 11-year resident

    There's also caution tape around the mosaic ramp leading down to Manor Ave by First Slice. Crumbling tiles, albeit beautiful.

  • _Gretchen Horner Park West homeowner.

    Hey Patty - I just sent the photos to the CSJ flickr pool. I'm also CCing you on my latest CTA email. Enjoy!

  • ringo712 Lived here all my life

    Did'nt they just rehab the Brown Line Stations a few years ago? If the answer is yes then maybe the city(we) got scammed again

  • I e-mail CTA as well because the Francisco station is looking really bad and the holes are multiplying.

    ----- Forwarded Message ----
    From: Feedback <feedback@transitchicago.com>
    To: Elizabeth Cortes Sent: Fri, August 19, 2011 3:34:36 PM
    Subject: RE: Brown Line - Francisco Platform

    Thank you for your comments. We apologize for the negative experience. We have forwarded your information to the responsible General Manager for appropriate action.

    At the moment, we inspect the platform every week and make repairs as necessary. To the extent that more extensive repairs are necessary, we'll consider them alongside other capital needs such as track, signal, traction power, structure replacement and repair. We understand the platforms are a concern for the community and will do our best to stay on top of repairs.

    Again, we apologize for the inconvenience.

    CTA FEEDBACK TEAM

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    From: Elizabeth Cortes
    Sent: Thursday, August 18, 2011 11:46 AM
    To: Feedback

    Subject: Brown Line - Francisco Platform

    To Whom It May Concern:

    I am writing to notify you about the degradation of the Francisco platform on the Brown line. The platform has serious holes in it and boards that are popping out.

    I have attached photos for your review.

    There have been several times where my shoe has slipped into those hole and I've come close to slipping and falling.

    This needs to be addressed for the safety of all riders that board on the Francisco station.

    Please advise on the plan if any to repair these issues.

    Respectfully,

    Elizabeth Cortés

  • ringo712 Lived here all my life

    Could be just me but I think they should've used different materials if wood needs to be replaced every other year. Our tax dollars at work

  • gerigirl I live and breathe this city!

    It's just like the potholes....fill them with a material that only last a year...then they can keep workers busy each spring filling them ...over..over...over again! And we taxpayers pick up the tab! DA CITY DAT WORKS!

  • _Gretchen Horner Park West homeowner.

    Hi Everyone,

    Representative Deb Mell (State Representative, 40th District) just contacted me with the following:

    Gretchen, I just took a look at Francisco station. Unbelievable the condition the wood is in after so short a period. I'll contact cta.

    Thank you @debmell!

  • _Gretchen Horner Park West homeowner.

    Mayor Emanuel rode the Brown Line to work today. I hope he noticed our platform deterioration first hand!

    http://chicago.everyblock.com/announcements/aug23-emanuel-moves-back-takes-brown-line-work-4206254/

  • Patty Lincoln Square neighbor

    I saw that article. Too bad he boarded at Montrose, which, I have a feeling, has the best looking platform in the entire city. :)

  • Montrose is a wood plank platform just like the others. Fire resistant is absolutely necessary throughout the CTA system given the history of platform fires from smokers.

  • painhertz butterknife ninja

    Send a check a long with your complaint. The CTA remains broke. The State hasn't even given them the money promised on that "Senior Citizens ride free" Blago deal much less kept up with their ongoing fiduciary responsibilities.

  • _Gretchen Horner Park West homeowner.

    I took several photos on this morning's commute. Photostream has been updated:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/39461856@N08/sets/72157627448526950/

  • _Gretchen Horner Park West homeowner.

    Jon Hilkevitch of the Chicago Tribune reached out to me via EveryBlock email yesterday. I spoke with Jon last night. He is writing about the CTA platform deterioration in his Getting Around column, publishing on Monday 8/29.

    I'll post a link when I have it.

    Thanks again to Against the Grain for suggesting I contact Jon!

    Also, I stopped at the Montrose platform last night and it too has issues. There appear to be new boards and there are other boards with obvious deterioration. It is in great shape when compared to the Francisco platform - but it is also newer.

    Please continue to contact the CTA et al about your deteriorating platform.

    Thanks neighbors!

  • _Gretchen Horner Park West homeowner.

    Hello Again,

    Would you like to contribute to the Chicago Tribune article? Please click on my name to the left and send me an email via EveryBlock and I will put you in touch with Mr. Hilkevitch.

    Thanks!

  • JP

    A few boards should not be a big deal. I'm just speechless though at the reports of multi-million dollar grants for renovating these platforms. There were two I remember reading about - Loyola and another I can't remember. New boards or safety features fine. But millions of dollars for a single platform. there must be better uses for that money!

  • Bob Kastigar 15 Years North Park, bike rider, retired
  • _Gretchen Horner Park West homeowner.

    Our EveryBlock thread did not get mentioned in the Trib article... drat!

    Also, I'm curious whether the Chicago Tribune's telephone call to the CTA is what prompted the CTA to decide to replace our entire platform:

    "The prematurely decaying wood is the worst at the Francisco station, where the entire platform will be replaced between September and the end of the year at an estimated cost of $150,000 to $175,000, transit officials said."

    Regardless, our platform is being completely replaced - which is exactly what we were hoping for!

  • DarkAngel Lifetime Chicagoan, new Portage Park home owner

    Good job, one station down, how many more to go?

    Also, please don't complain this winter when your station is shut down for repairs and you have to walk to Kedzie or Rockwell.

  • Patty Lincoln Square neighbor

    Nice work Gretchen! I'm at the Rockwell stop and I have to think our platform is as bad as Francisco's. Wonder if we're scheduled for a full replacement too.

  • Liz Albany Park resident

    Glad this is getting some attention (and hooray for the replacement at Francisco!), but I was disappointed by the first part of Claypool's quote:

    "Clearly this material that was chosen for the platforms on those stations was obviously defective, and this continues to cause the CTA repeated problems, high maintenance costs and patchwork solutions that we will have to address," CTA President Forrest Claypool said. "This was a bad decision made many years ago about the type of, I don't even want to call it wood, whatever it is."

    Defective is what happens when a product doesn't work the way it's supposed to. The stuff they used wasn't defective, it was just flat-out wrong for the situation. :-/

  • ..and the new wood they'll use will be just as problematic. The real issue is that CTA has absolutely no collective ability to do anything different than they've done for the past 50-odd years. Composite plastics could have easily been used which are lighter than wood, far more durable, and have a half-life of around 100,000 years.

  • Against The Grain Lincoln Square

    I would have liked to see more poured concrete structures at Rockwell, Francisco, and Kedzie, something that could stand the test of time better.

    And, the comments on the Trib article are the usual brilliant remarks from Nobel Prize winners. At least no one has blamed Obama or Bush for the grand conspiracy against the Brown Line....yet.

  • gerigirl I live and breathe this city!

    With all the money they throw away each year in repairs...like pot holes...if they had used the CORRECT... long indurance material in the first place...all of these re-do's wouldn't be necessary...then perhaps they could have put a escalator at the Medical Stop...instead of sick people having to climb steep stairs to go to Stroger for Dr. appointments...real NICE!

  • _Gretchen Horner Park West homeowner.

    NBC also ran a story about our platform today - complete with video:

    http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/No-Good-Wood-Brown-Line-Needs-Repair.html

  • JP

    i posted a similar idea in a different thread, but i think many purchasing deals -government or non-profit- should be presented to the public online or to a few private, bargain-hunting companies that would get a small percentage on the sale if they can find the best deal. similar to techbargains and other deal websites that scour the web for deals everyday.

    in my business, and i'm solo (prob not for long though), sometimes you just need to buy things and you don't have time to search for the best deal on your own. and you can't hire a whole department of deal seekers. this arrangement could solve that problem.

    if city workers and non-profits could post their needs a week or so before the purchase date, the public or a few deal-seeking companies could find the best prices and lock in a percentage of these big purchases. 1-2% adds up - eBates, techbargains exist for a reason. and with public comments enabled, you wouldn't end up with the city buying wood for the outdoors that's not sufficiently waterproofed! It wasn't available? Please. Where does every other city get their stuff. Why is their no cooperation between cities anyway?

  • JP

    when you're spending 500 million dollars (which they did several years back), there should be some money reserved for strength,weather testing, or any testing, before you unload your piggy bank on it. send it to consumer reports or something. it just boggles my mind that you go through all the lobbying to get the funding, and then just blow it off without sufficient analysis. 500 million is a LOT of money. how does that happen? maybe it was just a corrupt deal going to some insider's friend. i just don't get how a city with plenty of smart employees could make such a stupid mistake with so much money.

  • AlbanyParkMom Community gardener, 11-year resident

    The story I heard was that different inspectors gave whoever built these platforms different stories about what materials were required: fire-proof boards or weatherproof ones. And as to why concrete or other more durable materials aren't used, it's apparently to be "historically accurate," for what that's worth.

  • Doug Grew up in south burbs and 9-year northsider

    CTA project managers were probably in a no win situation. Since the project was over-budget (why THAT was the case is what needs to be investigated), more durable but more expensive materials for the platforms probably weren't an option. Legally they had to meet the fire code standards but durability was a judgment call. I'm guessing they knew exactly what they were doing and what the outcome would be but believed they had no other option. Where did all the money go? I doubt we could every find out at this point. How to keep this from happening again is the reall question now.

  • painhertz butterknife ninja

    Not over budget. The budget had to be slashed because the time between the project was specked out/bidded on and when it started was so long that costs went up substantially. Therefore many things had to be cut just to get anything done. Add in that the lowest bidder got the job. That's what happens when there's a 5 year lag between planning and starting.

  • JP

    doug, even if they got the best price possible, they would never have been granted the funding if it was known that it would last only six years. i wonder whether Emanuel himself would have lobbied as hard as he did for the funding back then (according to one of the links above - thanks bob and gretchen), if he knew CTA managers would buy inferior products. it's better to ask for more money for the best stuff than spend triple on repairs and complete renovations every few years. does every city have the same problem? there has to be a better solution that's been time-tested and affordable. maybe emanuel and colleagues should have made sure the plans were up to snuff b4 lobbying for funding?

  • Doug Grew up in south burbs and 9-year northsider

    Oh, I think you misunderstand me. I am not in the least excusing what happened. I am just describing the "real politik" of the situation. The CTA is, and for a long time has been, a financial, managerial and political mess. I'm just saying what the realities were as seen by the people making the decisions. The truth was they didn't have enough money for the job and there was no more money to be had. The result: kick the can of the real costs down the road to future maintenance budgets. Incompetence? Of course. Corruption? Probably. Such is lIfe in the city that works (sort of).

  • This is why everyone needs to attend the CTA and Metra hearings, even if they DO NOT directly affect you. At the Brown Line meetings for the rebuilding of the stations, there were essentially about 10 people that would should up.

    Do not accept what CTA is giving you, because it's worse than what many third-world countries are getting. From the top, down, CTA needs to be gutted of all it's cronyism and corruption.

  • AlbanyParkMom Community gardener, 11-year resident

    That's kind of true, Mark Twain. Daley loves to crow about how awesome the bus boarding in Curitiba, Brazil is. And legitimately, it's pretty sweet.

  • _Gretchen Horner Park West homeowner.

    The Tuesday after the Chicago Tribune article came out, a ~20 by 20 foot section of the platform had been replaced.

    This morning, sarahjbrown17 snapped some pics at Francisco - looks like the replacement work is really getting underway now!

    http://chicago.everyblock.com/announcements/sep01-brown-line-francisco-stop-4228219/

  • DarkAngel Lifetime Chicagoan, new Portage Park home owner

    _Gretchen for alderman...or mayor!

  • Bookmark this thread for discussion in 2013 when the platforms are falling apart, again. We'll wonder why they used the same, craptastic, soft pine, then.

  • gerigirl I live and breathe this city!

    Why wood at all??? What's wrong with recycled tires for flooring or whatever recycleable rubber material is available...too green for the city??

  • Doug Grew up in south burbs and 9-year northsider

    I am sure that if you price these alternatives (plastic, composites, etc.) you'll find that the pine planks are the cheapest. That doesn't mean it makes economic sense in the long run but this is all about what there is money for right now.

  • Chris Rogers Park

    The City/CTA is aware of it. Saw something about it on WGN News a couple days ago.

  • gerigirl I live and breathe this city!

    Chris.....Aware of what?

  • Chris Rogers Park

    Did you read the OP's post? Since you haven't, the planking that was put in as part of the Brown line renewal a year or two ago.

  • Today I had just gotten off the train at Montrose (northbound) and as myself and other passengers were walking toward the stairwell, I heard a loud thud. A woman behind me tripped on part of the platform. The blue part that should have been flush against the planking but was instead sticking up enough to caItuse her to fall. It was not an easy fall, as part of her face hit the platform and the paradmedics came to check her out. If you're at Montrose, be careful when walking.

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