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CTA wants all train stations to be wheelchair accessible... within 20 years

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long

The CTA is currently in the midst of the $492 million Your New Blue project and the $1.9 billion Red and Purple Modernization Project, two improvement initiatives that are updating stations, tracks and other parts of system's most heavily used train lines. One aspect that has been largely overlooked in these projects is the accessibility of stations to riders with disabilities. While some stations are being rebuilt to include elevators and wider platforms, there are still many stations (including the recently renovated Damen and California Blue Line stations) that are impossible for individuals using wheelchairs to access.

This morning the Chicago Tribune reported that the CTA plans to "publish a report late in 2016 or early 2017" outlining an initiative that will aim to make every station on the rail system accessible to riders with disabilities within the next 20 years. According to CTA spokesman Brian Steele, 99 of the city's 145 train stations currently satisfy regulations outlined in the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.

In order to bring all stations up to code, the CTA will need to add ramps and elevators to inaccessible stations, many of which were built well before such requirements were made. In many cases, the updates will involve acquiring new property or drastically reconfiguring a station's layout in order to accommodate the installation of an accessible elevator. In areas where train stations are sandwiched between buildings, this could prove to be an expensive proposition—the CTA has not yet formulated a potential budget for such renovations.

While it's reassuring that the organization is aware of its accessibility shortcomings, proposing a two-decade timeline to bring the entire system up to code doesn't accurately address the urgency of the situation, especially for those who are in need of expanded accessibility.

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