Friday, January 25, 2013

Day 89, 25 January 2013

I didn't realize until just now that today's picture is almost exactly the same as Wednesday's, the only difference being a greater accumulation of snow. This is a good indication of how peaceful it was here today. There was a bit of rearranging going on at ground level -- a forklift moving a stack of wooden beams, a small Bobcat pushing a Jersey barrier -- but other than that, things have been relatively quiet. I wasn't around yesterday, but judging from the repose of this piece of machinery, i suspect that it may have been equally calm. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Day 87, 23 January 2013

After all the excitement this weekend, here is a peaceful scene. The workers have gone for the day, and a light dusting of snow covers the construction site. The embankment used to slope from the track area outward to the retaining wall. Now the area on the track-side of the steel wall installed over the weekend is level with the tracks, while on the outside the area is being prepared for the next stage in the building process. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Day 85, 21 January 2013

All the steel plates are in place, the bone-rattling work that dominated every minute of the weekend has ended, and the huge piece of machinery that made all the noise has been removed. Since i missed the process that raised this machine to the work area, i was glad that i got the chance to see it being removed today. Here is a series of pictures and a short video showing how it was taken apart and lowered to the ground. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Day 84, 20 January 2013

This is how things looked at 8:15 this morning. The pictures are arranged from south to north. I started to write that installation of the steel panels had been completed, but it looks like that was just wishful thinking on my part. I took a break to go see what was happening and discovered that another stack of steel panels was being lifted from the ground to the staging platform.  It also looks like they are extending the wooden platform further in the direction of Pratt.  I confess that i can't stop myself from thinking of this platform as "the boardwalk," as though i could stroll along it, stop at an arcade to play a few games of Skeeball, and then grab a slice of Mack & Manco's pizza.

Here's a brief video of how the work is proceeding on this incredibly cold morning:

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Day 83, 19 January 2013

By 8:30 this morning, several of the steel panels had been installed and the "boardwalk" extended. The noise and vibrations as the steel is driven into the ground are hard to ignore, and people posting on Everyblock last night were reporting that they could hear it several blocks away. But it's fascinating to watch this project take shape and to see how much progress was made in the overnight hours. 

Here's a short piece of video taken at about noon today that gives a sense of both the noise level and the immense size of the crane (0:23) i mentioned yesterday. The serious noise kicks in at about 1:08, and you should even be able to hear the vibration running through the neighboring buildings (1:20). 

* Update 9:00 PM: Here are a few shots taken this evening. If the close-ups seem a little out of focus it's because this is a little like trying to take pictures in the middle of an earthquake.

The view from Farwell & Wayne

Farwell & Glenwood

Postscript: A few people have recommended that i use this blog to complain about this admittedly uncomfortable situation, but i'm not planning to do that. If the need arises, i'll complain, as i did last week when the project was suddenly resurrected and the Streets and San gestapo came barreling through to tow cars without warning. But for a girl who spent Christmas mornings resenting the fact that her brother got an Erector Set while she got another damn doll, having a bird's-eye view of a project like this is a real treat, and that's where i intend to keep my focus.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Day 82, 18 January 2013

The big day has arrived and we are all bracing ourselves for what Alderman Joe Moore warns will be an "extremely loud" weekend. There's a lot of activity this morning, affecting not only Glenwood, but Farwell and even Pratt as well. Here is how things were looking at 8:30 this morning:

The area under construction at the southwest corner of the intersection of Glenwood and Farwell: 

More of the embankment has been leveled and wooden beams placed to shore things up.
The intersection of Pratt and Glenwood:

The dumpsters for all the residential buildings on the west side of the 6800 block of Wayne  were moved to the corner of Pratt Blvd. when work on the project resumed last week.
Residents of the block have to negotiate their way along this narrow passage to dispose of their trash.

Equipment lined up along Pratt Blvd. east of the L track

 Farwell Ave. between Wayne and Glenwood:

* Update 11:15 AM: Here's a closer look at the progress that was made this morning. It's nice to finally see the behemoth Grad-All in action.

** Update 3:30 PM: And finally, the purpose of all those heavy timbers is revealed. I wish that i had seen the actual process of raising this heavy piece of machinery onto the platform. 

*** Update: 5:00 PM: All is peaceful at the moment. The noisy phase of the work is slated to begin at 9:00 this evening and continue round the clock until Monday morning. In the meantime, your humble blogger is going to take a nap since this will probably be the last opportunity to sleep this weekend.

**** Update: 9:00 PM: When this crew says they're starting at 9:00, they mean it! 
There is an enormous crane on the site; it towers over the three-story buildings on the block.
I tried to get a picture of it but it's too dark and my camera is too meager to capture the full elevation of the thing, so i'll give it another try in the morning. In the meantime, here are a few final shots for this evening, complete with dramatic lighting; somehow i imagine "The Ride of the Valkyries" playing in the background. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Day 81, 17 January 2013

The heavy equipment is all lined up and ready to go for this weekend's construction marathon. I have to confess that my usual enthusiasm has been eclipsed by apprehension over just how loud, bright, and disruptive this work is going to be. Alderman Joe Moore sent out an email blast earlier today, with the following ominous message: "I have been advised by the CTA that the sheet piling work that will be performed this weekend will be extremely loud. As it will be performed during a continuous 24-hour-per-day period, from Friday morning until early Monday morning, the surrounding neighbors will be extremely inconvenienced." Click here to link to the full text of his message including a list of blocks that will be affected by power outages on Friday and again on Monday. 
If there had been a little more notice, i would have planned to put the critters in the kennel and headed out of town for the weekend.  But as it is, i will try to stick it out and update this blog regularly over the weekend... unless i come to my senses and get out of Dodge.

Corner of Farwell and Wayne

Corner of Farwell & Wayne

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Day 80, 16 January 2013

The serious work has begun on the CTA substation project. This morning the remaining tree stumps were torn out of the embankment.

This afternoon the "Lincoln logs" that were brought in last week were placed along the top of the retaining wall.

**Update: Thanks to Patrick Barry at CTA Station Watch for the excellent account of what this project will entail. Since this humble blogger is content to simply snap a few pictures and make a few observations from the perspective of a curious but uninformed layperson, i'm very glad that someone with a more technical approach is on the job. Click here to learn more.

Important Notice, 16 January 2013

Here is a copy of an email i received from Alderman Joe Moore this morning. There is a lot of activity on Glenwood this morning and i'll post pictures later today, but i wanted to get this information out as quickly as possible. It's going to be a very noisy weekend folks!

CTA to Close Portions of Farwell this Weekend; Electricity Service may be Interrupted

Dear Neighbor,
As part of the construction of a new substation along the CTA embankment on Glenwood east of the tracks between Pratt and Farwell, the CTA will close Farwell temporarily, from just west of the CTA viaduct to Wayne, beginning this Friday, January 18th, at 9 a.m. The street will re-open Monday, January 21st, at 5 a.m.
The street is being closed to allow for the installation of sheet piling. During this time, through traffic will not be allowed and parking will be prohibited.

Parking on Pratt from Glenwood to Wayne also will be prohibited during this time period, but through traffic will be allowed.

Glenwood east of the tracks between Pratt and Farwell is already closed and will remain closed for the duration of the year-long construction project.

Some nearby residents may experience brief interruptions in electricity service at 1 p.m. Friday, January 18th, and 11 a.m., Monday, January 21st, as a result of this work so please plan accordingly.
The sheet piling work will be performed during a continuous 24-hour-per-day period from Friday morning until early Monday morning, so neighbors may experience some construction noise during the late hours.

The new substation is designed to boost the electrical power on the tracks, which will help increase train speed and service reliability and reduce "slow zones" on the far north Red Line.  For more information on the substation project, CLICK HERE.
As always, if major changes in the work plan or schedule occur, I will let you know immediately through my electronic newsletter and postings on my Facebook page.
If you have any questions, please contact my office at or the CTA directly through Jeff Wilson, the CTA's Government and Community Relations Officer,

Friday, January 11, 2013

Day 75, 11 January 2013

I'm not sure what this imposing piece of equipment does, but it definitely means business!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Day 74, 10 January 2013

For a few hours today, Glenwood Avenue looked like a frontier fort or a gigantic version of Lincoln Logs. These huge wooden pillars were stacked up in the roadway this morning, but then removed and stacked beneath the viaduct this afternoon.

There was a lot of activity on the tracks today, measuring and marking out the area where the construction will occur. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Reboot: Day 73, 9 January 2013

What a surprise! At 7:30 this morning, i awoke to a cacophony of sirens, the likes of which have not been heard since the London Blitz. Then a loud megaphone-amplified voice coming from a Streets & San tow truck announced that all the cars on the block were illegally parked and would be ticketed and towed. Just like round one of this project, there had been no communication or advance warning to the residents of the block, except perhaps this obscure little sign and its two siblings slapped up on the utility poles sometime within the past 24 hours. Note the dates on the sign. I'm hoping that the last number in the end date is a "3," but for all i know, the project could be slated to last until October 2015. 

Ugh! I'm sorry to be such a grouch about this. I have no beef at all with the company doing the work. They are good people just trying to do their job and have already had their share of frustrations with the bureaucracy, including a two-month delay in getting started. But I really think our elected officials and the CTA could have made an effort to let the residents of the block know what was going on and when, and they should have offered some assistance with parking and reasonable accommodations for trash collection.