Chicago takes next step toward making rail system 100% accessible

Posted on January 7, 2016

David Wilson

David Wilson

As part of Mayor Emanuel’s ongoing commitment to improve accessibility throughout the city, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) announced a new initiative that will establish a blueprint for making the nation’s second largest transit agency 100% accessible over the next 20 years.

During the city’s ADA 25 Chicago celebration, CTA President Dorval Carter introduced plans for the creation of the new CTA Strategic Accessibility Program — a first-ever, comprehensive plan that will outline both short-term and long-term initiatives to make the CTA’s rail system fully ADA accessible over the next 20 years and plans to either repair and/or replace existing rail system elevators.

“We’re proud of the progress we’ve made in the last 25 years, which has only been possible thanks to the strong commitment from Mayor Emanuel and the City of Chicago, as well as the involvement of the disability-rights community,” said Carter. “We do, however, recognize there is still more work to do and the creation of this new program will help map out a path for CTA to deliver on this commitment two decades from now.”

Over the next year, a working group consisting of City of Chicago, CTA, ADA and disability community members, architects and others will be responsible for outlining a high-level cost estimate and schematic schedule for achieving the goal of 100% accessibility — all of which will be dependent on funding. As part of this program, CTA will conduct public outreach to solicit feedback from the general public and disability community, which will be taken into consideration before the report is finalized sometime in early 2017.

Nearly 70% of CTA’s 145 rail stations are currently wheelchair accessible. Of the 46 stations currently not equipped with elevators, many are well over a half-century old, built well before the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. More than one-half of those stations are expected to receive ADA improvements in the coming years as part of larger capital improvement projects.