2013 improvements will provide faster travel, better reliability; Project represents significant South Side investment
Chicago Transit Board Chairman Terry Peterson and CTA President Forrest Claypool today announced one of the biggest CTA construction projects in CTA history: the complete reconstruction of the South Red Line from Cermak-Chinatown to 95th Street.
The project will completely rebuild the tracks and track bed on the 10-mile stretch of the Red Line known as the Dan Ryan Branch.
“The South Red Line is a vital link to communities from Chinatown to Roseland, and beyond, and this project will set the foundation for smooth, reliable train service for decades to come,” Peterson said.
Claypool added: “Once this work is complete, our customers will be riding on a brand-new railroad. Their commutes will be faster, their rides will be smoother and more comfortable, and they’ll see fewer service interruptions thanks to better reliability.”
In Spring 2013, CTA will close the South Red Line from Cermak-Chinatown to 95th Street for five months, affecting nine stations. To ease the impact on riders, CTA plans to offer multiple commuting options during this phase of the project, including:
- FREE shuttle buses from Red Line stations south of 63rd Street to connect customers with the Garfield Green Line rail station
- FREE entry at Garfield Green Line station for bus shuttle passengers
- Red Line train service running on Green Line tracks from Roosevelt to Ashland/63rd
- Expanded bus service on numerous nearby bus routes
- 50-cent discount on rides along many South Side Bus routes
“We realize this will have an impact on our customers,” Peterson said. “That’s why we are planning to offer multiple, convenient options for people to get around during the construction. Our No. 1 goal will be to make sure that we provide travel options for our customers so that they can get where they need to go.”
“This is an opportunity to maximize our capital investment and create jobs for our residents,” said State Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago), Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. “This will enable Chicago’s diverse communities to take advantage of good job opportunities.”
Sandoval also thanked Governor Quinn and Mayor Emanuel for their leadership and for making this project a priority. “We all understand how important it is to invest in our infrastructure and our communities,” he said.
The five-month construction option will save $75 million over an option to perform work on weekends only. That $75 million savings will be reinvested into station upgrades along the South Red Line, such three new elevators, lighting, painting, electrical substation work and other improvements, and will also enable CTA to provide the extensive alternative service during construction.
A weekends-only option would take four years to complete, and would be confusing and difficult for riders to adapt to. It would also impact tens of thousands of customers each week on the line that sees the highest number of weekend customers--weekend ridership on the Red Line is 2/3 that of weekday ridership.
Both Peterson and Claypool highlighted the CTA’s commitment to ensure strong participation from Disadvantage Business Enterprise (DBE) contractors on project contracts, as well as efforts to ensure that local workers have the opportunity to pursue some of hundreds of jobs the work is expected to generate.
CTA is working with the Chicago Urban League, Dawson Technical Institute, Hispanic American Construction Industry Association, Black Contractors United and other groups to promote opportunities.
Peterson said that CTA is also reaching out to business leaders and elected officials to help spread the word, “so that as many people as possible have an opportunity to participate in this project,” he said.
Built in 1969, the South Red Line tracks are well beyond their expected lifespan. Despite ongoing repairs and maintenance, around 40 percent of the branch includes slow zones—where trains travel well below the designed speed limit. In some cases, Peterson said, trains that would normally travel up to 55 mph are instead running at 15 mph. “That’s not the kind of service we want to provide to our customers,” he said.
The reconstruction will shave 20 minutes off the round-trip between 95th Street and Roosevelt. “That’s a huge, very meaningful reduction we know our customers will appreciate,” Claypool said.
The work will replace all the ties, rails, third rail, drainage systems and ballast, the stone material that holds the ties in place. The nine stations along the branch will receive improvements ranging from new lighting and paint to new bike racks. Elevators will be added at Garfield, 63rd and 87th Streets, making the entire South Red Line accessible.
The project is part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Building a New Chicago infrastructure renewal program. Funding for the work is part of more than $1 billion in federal, state and local funding announced in late 2011 by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Governor Pat Quinn for the Red and Purple lines.
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