The city and Chicago transit workers reached an agreement that calls for increased union wages and new work rules for a $66-million rehab project where the Brown and Purple lines cross near Ravenswood.
Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and the Chicago Transit Authority President Forrest Claypool announced the one-year tentative agreement for the Ravenswood Connector Project Tuesday at a press conference.
“The Ravenswood Connector Project represents change in a new direction and embraces it rather than resisting it,” the mayor said.
The project is part of the mayor’s $7 billion plan to strengthen Chicago’s infrastructure.
“It is essential that we have world-class infrastructure in Chicago and this agreement allows us to maintain and improve our infrastructure in a responsible, forward-thinking way,” said Emmanuel in a press release.
This agreement will benefit the CTA workers and the taxpayers who use the Brown and Purple lines, city and union officials said.
“Through change there will be more work, more hire and a cheaper price for commuters,” Emmanuel said.
The project will improve the safety and reliability of key segment of the Brown and Purple Lines shave about two minutes of delays off the average commute.
Marolon Reed, 35, a clerk at Cook brothers is sometimes concerned about the safety conditions at a particular point near the Merchandise Mart on the Brown Line, “the curve, you come around it and the train tits a little bit,” Reed said. “It goes extra slow but it is kind of scary sometime.”
The project will replace aging tracks and deteriorated parts of the elevated structure and eliminate slow zones, while minimizing future ones. In the end it will allow for more frequent, less crowded trains.
The connector project has created 180 new construction jobs, including 60 ironworkers, and 35 additional hires.
“Iron workers are a critical part of operations,” Claypool said.
Once the project is complete the CTA anticipates on being able to keep the majority of the new ironworkers positions, a key concession for the union.
The Ravenswood Connector project “creates good paying jobs for theses highly skilled, well trained workers,” Claypool said.
Lynsey Mukomel, Saria Flores, Kaitlyn Cubacub, Michelle Phelan, James Foster, Aaron Bulnes contributed reporting.