Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Ties that no longer Bind

Through Thanksgiving, thousands of old wooden rail ties on the Wabash and Lake Street of the Loop "L" are being removed and replaced, resulting in weekend service being confined to Wells and Van Buren streets.

Rather than looping the loop and returning north, Brown Line trains magically change their spots at Merchandise Mart and become Midway trains headed to the airport. Last Sunday at the Mart I was able to wrangle a herd of a few dozen tourists, milling around in confusion waiting for a southbound Brown Line train that would never come, onto an about to depart train, only to see them pour off the cars again when the motorman announced that they were now on a Midway train. I finally convinced a herd leader that the train would go to Library, their apparent destination, before it went to Midway, and at last sighting everyone was again climbing aboard. I hope they made it.
Right now, wherever work progresses, far more light is passing down to street than is probably safe for we vampire-like commuters accustomed to the traditional under-the-L, Dark Knight gloom.

As I was taking pictures, a friendly worker on the $24,000,000 project came up to explain proudly how the ancient ties were being removed and replaced by new ties made of synthetic materials that will have a longer useful life and eliminate slow zones. She also assured me, as I stood there doe-eyed with misplaced nostalgia, that the now exiled wooden ties would probably live on in a good recycled home.


Isaac said...

Nice piece! Hopefully all these renovations will ultimately be worth the wait.

Anonymous said...

the ancient ties which have lasted 75 years appearantly arent as good as the 2x as exspensive ones we have to replace in 10 years.

Matt Maldre said...

Thanks for telling us what the construction was about. I thought they were repainting the structure.