Chicago Sun-Times

December 2009 Archives

Check out this scary story in today's New York Times about the perils to drivers caused by highway construction. Drivers always hear that it's their responsibility to be safe in construction zones -- but this story talks about the avoidable hazards caused by construction contractors.

Ride Trivia Quiz Answer

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When the world's first international urban-planning conference was held in New York in 1898, it was dominated by a seemingly unsolveable transportation issue that seemed to threaten city life. Finding no solution to the problem, the conference broke up a week early. What was the problem?

The answer was horse manure, which had become so abundant farmers were no longer hauling enough of it away for fertilizer, so it got stacked in vacant lots. This problem cleared up in subsequent years due to the rise in the use of the automobile and the subway. J. Mladek was the first with the right answer. If I can get a t-shirt size and an address, I can send out the prize.

For all you quiz fans -- there's no quiz this week for the simple reason that we're low on T-shirts! As soon as we get restocked, I'll run quiz questions again.

The end has come for regular weekend interruptions to CTA Blue Line service.

This is the last weekend for service cuts to the Blue Line subway due to a track repair project.

Rail service between the Blue Line's Clark/Lake and UIC-Halsted stations will be suspended this weekend from 10 p.m. Friday until 4 a.m. Monday. Shuttle buses will substitute for rail service.

The CTA has been using $88 million in federal stimulus money to replace about seven miles of track from Division on the O'Hare branch of the Blue Line to Clinton on the Forest Park branch. The repairs primarily were to prevent the development of "slow zones," in which trains have to run slower than normal for safety.

Since April, crews have been replacing deteriorated wooden half ties with concrete half ties, running rail, and contact (third) rail. Beginning last spring, interruptions were made to Blue Line subway service to allow for track repairs almost every weekend.

In the coming weeks, Blue Line trains operating between Clark/Lake and UIC_Halsted will run on single tracks late at night while crews complete remaining detail work.

The Chicago French Market opens at 7:30 a.m. Thursday at MetraMarket in the West Loop. It's set in a building that used to be mostly unused space, in the concourse of the Ogilvie Transportation Center at 131 N. Clinton, under the Metra tracks.

The market promises an indoor market offering organic, local and seasonal produce, meats and fish, breads, pastries, small batch cheese, wine, chocolates and prepared meals. Unlike seasonal farmer's markets, the French Market will be be open year-round, six days a week.

The 12:15 p.m. grand opening ceremony will include the cutting of a four-foot cake shaped to resemble the Eiffel Tower with "local Chicago touches." Which could mean.... a machine gun? A hot dog with everything? We'll have to see.

The project is intended to draw West Loop residents as well as Metra passengers.

Metra is spending $6 million for structural improvements to the space. In exchange, Metra expects its share in the project's revenue will be between $38 million and $40 million over the next 25 years.

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