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Wood Already Rotting At New CTA Brown Line Platforms

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Many of the wooden planks at the Francisco station on the CTA's Brown Line are already rotting, two years after an overhaul that was supposed to last decades. (Credit: CBS)

Many of the wooden planks at the Francisco station on the CTA’s Brown Line are already rotting, two years after an overhaul that was supposed to last decades. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Two years after completing a $530 million project to rehab 18 CTA Brown Line stations – an overhaul that was supposed to last decades – some of the new platforms are already falling apart.

As CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports, the new platforms were supposed to last 100 years, but six years after the installation began, some are already rotting away.

Conditions are so bad at the Francisco station that the entire platform needs to have its boards replaced.

Keeping your balance on the jittery “L” is tough, but at the Brown Line’s Francisco station, riders on Monday said a walk on the wooden platform is even more of a challenge.

“Kind of like I am walking on an attic, like you can kind of feel it move a little bit,” Ravenswood Manor resident Meredith Garretson said.

“They are a little smooshy down like they are rotting away,” Albany Park resident Jo Slater said.

At the Francisco station, dozens of wooden planks are rotting, peeling apart and giving way — all just two years after the CTA completed a $530 million rehabilitation of 18 Brown Line stations.

It isn’t hard to illustrate the problem. Just placing a small amount of pressure on some of the boards with the heel of your foot and the wood gives way. Many women have been complaining that their high-heeled shoes get caught in the boards.

The CTA has already spent $350,000 to replace and weather seal the new boards at 14 stations, but it will have to spend about $175,000 more to completely shut down and reconstruct the Francisco platform starting next month.

“I kind of see the stuff underneath … and I see it kind of withering sometimes,” Garretson said.

The CTA basically said it has no one to blame but itself. To meet strict fire codes, it selected pre-treated pine planking that was fire retardant, but not weather sealed.

“There was no product that provided both the required fire rating and maximum weather preservative,” the CTA said in a written statement on Monday.

But in a city known for horrific winters, no sealant was ever applied to the platforms until problems started to surface for riders.

“Every once in a while, I forget where the spot is and I step on it and I go ‘don’t do that again,’ because I don’t want to go through the boards,” Slater said.

Of the 18 stations on the Brown Line north of the Loop, only three – Fullerton, Belmont and Western – have concrete platforms. The others all have wood.

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