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Some Renovated Brown Line Stations Already In Need of Repairs

By Chuck Sudo in News on Dec 31, 2010 5:30PM

After a cost of $530 million, you would expect some of the wood used for the renovated Brown Line stations to last longer than they have. But they've already spent $300,000 since August 2008 replacing rotting wood at nine of the stations.

CTA has had to replace 10,000 square feet of Southern yellow pine at the Chicago, Montrose, Kedzie, Sedgwick, Francisco, Armitage, Diversey, and Rockwell stations. the root cause of the rotting pine is a failure of the treatment method used to protect the wood. CTA went with a product called Flame Safe X-T,which is supposed to act as a flame retardant and weather sealant (no word on whether it also worked as a floor wax and a dessert topping, as well). CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney told Chicago News Co-Op, “It’s not that the preservatives deteriorated the wood, it’s that they didn’t protect the wood.” Way to spin the obvious.

Meanwhile Louis Jacobi, the principal owner of the company that makes Flame Safe X-T, said the product wasn't meant for long term protection from the weather. We can see that, but shouldn't it last for at least two years?

CTA opted not to treat the wood with creosote because of environmental factors, the scarcity of the product these days and its stickiness when applied to wood. A spot check of the affected Brown Line stations in October found planks with holes in them, mold and splintering. To stave off further rotting, CTA applied another weather resistant material called CedarShield from April through August of last year. But the president of the company that makes CedarShield, when contacted by Chicago News Co-Op, said he was "appalled" that CTA hadn't applied separate weather and flame retardation treatments.