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Why is the concrete still falling on the still-new CTA Brown Line flyover, and why no fix?

CHICAGO (CBS) — The CTA Brown Line flyover north of the Belmont Avenue stop is less than a year old – but for months, we have been documenting chunks of concrete falling from it.

As CBS 2’s Sabrina Franza reported Thursday, the flyover still hasn’t been fixed. And Franza has also learned what has been causing it to fall apart.

We first told you about the problem with the concrete on the overpass six months ago. The Chicago Transit Authority told us it would be fixed by the end of the summer, but that has not happened.

The physics lesson goes what goes up must come down. The trains that go up the flyover eventually do come down to a lower elevated track. But the concrete on that flyover is supposed to stay where it is, not come down.

“They said this would be a jewel of Chicago, and this is not a jewel of Chicago,” said Timothy Sable. “This is literally a hazard.”

Sable rides the Brown Line daily.

“This is a busy area,” he said. “We have kids in this neighborhood. We have parents, bicyclists.”

The Belmont Flyover, also called the Red-Purple Bypass, carries northbound Brown Line trains over the Red and Purple Line tracks to speed up traffic.

The idea was to eliminate the need for northbound Brown Line tracks to cross over the other lines’ tracks when they turn from a northward route just east of Sheffield Avenue to a westward route just north of Roscoe Street. 

The flyover is part of the $1.7 billion first phase of the Red and Purple Line Modernization Project. It opened in November of last year. 

A few months later, CBS 2 exposed a problem with crumbling concrete on the side of the structure.

Sable talked to CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas for a story in March. When the problem wasn’t fixed, Sable contacted us again.

“God forbid one day were going to have a major accident here when a car’s driving and there’s a train going overhead – breaks off into pieces and goes into somebody’s windshield,” he said.

Sable said it’s not just drivers who could be at risk.

“What happens if there’s somebody walking with a baby carriage down the street, and one of these pieces fall off?” Sable said.

He took video from the train on Thursday. It showed more than concrete falling through the cracks.

The CTA told us the contractor skipped grout on some locations altogether, and put too little in others. Thus, water got in and the structure started decaying.

When we asked why it hasn’t been fixed by now, they told us the contractor was taking their time inspecting. We saw some of the inspectors onsite.

Now, the CTA says it does not expect the problem to be corrected until the end of the year.

We reached out to the contractor, Walsh-Fluor, for comment on all this. They referred us to the CTA.

The CTA said these new fixes will not cost the taxpayer, and Walsh-Fluor is fixing the problem themselves. The CTA added that the repairs are going to start next week, following the inspection process.

Source: CBS Chicago

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