Today the Chicago Tribune picked up on a BGA and Chicago News Cooperative investigation from late 2010 about the deteriorating Brown Line renovation project. The Brown Line recently underwent a $530 million overhaul that officials claimed would minimize maintenance. Fewer than two years since the renovation, planks are warping, rotting and growing mold.
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) initially installed wood pre-treated with only a fire-retardant. On the advice of a wood expert and former employee of the federal government’s Forest Products Laboratory, the CTA later applied a weather-resistant preservative to the platforms between April and August 2009. It turns out that the preservative does not work well when applied over the fire-retardant, and deterioration ensued.
As a result, taxpayers have spent more than $350,000 in replacing planks. The CTA ensures that rider safety is not at risk. Read our Dec. 31, 2010, investigation here.
Citizens Take to the (Digital) Streets
This investigation has led to a new kind of citizen engagement the BGA is excited about: An Albany Park resident took to EveryBlock this August to find out how her public officials are responding to the problematic planks on the Brown Line platforms. As you’ll see, a community is forming around the issue: http://chicago.everyblock.com/announcements/aug16-deteriorating-cta-platforms-4186225/#comment-32128