CTA rail cars use unconventional route to get to the shop – Chicago Tribune

Posted: Monday, August 31, 2015

Collisions, workers changing lightbulbs on the side of the road or police vehicles with emergency lights ablaze are the typical reasons that rubbernecking motorists slow down to see what’s happening.

Now, add CTA rail cars to the list of things that cause the familiar gaper’s block, a behavior that in this particular case is often accompanied by horns honking, cameras clicking pictures and wild cheers through open windows.

It’s not the daily routine of trains on the Red and Blue lines rumbling up and down the separated median of three Chicago expressways that evokes this response from motorists and their passengers.

No, these rail cars are hitting the road on the actual expressway lanes, as well as on busy city and suburban streets, chained to flatbed trailers that are hauled by truck between CTA rail facilities on the South Side and Skokie.

“I get all kinds of looks and weird stuff,” said Mark Roop, a commercial trucker who has made the majority of rail car deliveries.

“People stand up out of their sunroofs to take pictures and shoot video. Kids try to get me to honk my horn back at them. It’s quite humorous, actually,” said Roop, 41, who works for P&C Trucking Ent. Inc., based in Gary.

It has been this way for the past 3 1/2 months, since the abrupt shutdown of the CTA Yellow Line on May 17 as the result of a track embankment collapse just west of McCormick Boulevard near Howard Street in Skokie. The accident occurred during construction nearby at the waste treatment plant operated by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

Normally, new rail cars and older cars undergoing repairs would enter and exit the CTA track system using a spur connecting the Skokie Shop rail heavy maintenance facility, at 3701 W. Oakton St. in Skokie, to the Yellow Line tracks on the embankment just to the south.


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