CTA Launches Expanded Outreach Effort for Red Line South Project

February 21, 2013

Full reconstruction will provide faster travel, better reliability;Project represents significant South Side investment


The Chicago Transit Authority, working with regional public transit agencies and state and local officials, today launched an expanded outreach and informational campaign for one of the biggest construction projects in CTA history: the complete reconstruction of the Red Line South from Cermak-Chinatown to 95th Street.

In May 2013, the CTA will begin work to completely rebuild the tracks and improve stations on the 10-mile stretch of the Red Line South—a project that will provide faster commutes, smoother rides and better reliability.

“Red Line South is a vital link to communities from Chinatown to Roseland, and beyond, and this project will not only benefit commuters but represents a significant economic investment in Chicago’s South Side,” said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Terry Peterson.

To complete the work in the fastest, most cost-effective manner, CTA will close the Red Line from Cermak-Chinatown to 95th Street for five months, affecting nine stations.

Since announcing the $425 million project in June 2012, the CTA has worked closely with residents, community leaders, business organizations, elected officials and other groups who will be impacted by the project.

Over the next three months, that effort will expand significantly.  The CTA will attend dozens of meetings in communities throughout the South Side to discuss construction plans and the extensive alternative bus and rail service the CTA will offer.  CTA is also distributing targeted outreach materials that will provide alternative service suggestions for neighborhoods throughout the project, and is planning a number of ways to communicate with customers, including door-to-door distribution of informational materials.

“Recognizing that this project will affect thousands of customers each day, CTA has developed multiple, convenient options for people to get around during the construction.” said CTA President Forrest Claypool.  “We want our customers to be well-informed about the myriad travel options we’re offering, so that they can get where they need to go.”

Additionally, the Regional Transportation Authority, Metra, Pace and CTA have held extensive discussions about coordinating service among the transit providers—with the goal of providing additional options for commuters affected by the project.  That coordination has been encapsulated in intergovernmental agreements that will go before the respective agency boards in the coming weeks.

“This project represents another great example of inter-agency collaboration with transit options extended to customers by Metra and Pace,” said RTA Executive Director Joseph Costello.  “We commend the CTA’s efforts to improve Red Line service with a reconstruction project that will enhance the customer experience and create jobs. Track renewal projects like this also call attention to broader transit infrastructure needs and the need for stable and sufficient federal funding.” 

Metra will change the flag stops to regular stops at five Metra Electric stations in proximity to the Red Line for two inbound trains during the weekday morning rush hour, and two outbound trains in the weekday evening rush hour.  Those stops are: 63rd, 75th, 79th, 87th and 95th.  In addition, several Saturday trains also will make regular stops, instead of flag stops, at those five stations.

Metra will be monitoring ridership demands closely to see if further adjustments are needed.

Additionally, Pace announced two new express bus service routes during rush hours to the CTA’s Roosevelt Red Line station: one from the Pace Blue Island park-and-ride lot, the other from the Harvey Transportation Center.  Each service will provide six morning and six afternoon trips for the duration of the project, as well as one midday round-trip serving Blue Island, Harvey and the Roosevelt station, said Executive Director T.J. Ross.

The three service boards also announced a joint fare product for customers using a combination of CTA, Metra and Pace service.  Pre-packaged fare media would offer a Metra 10-ride pass and a discounted CTA 5-day pass, available to customers along Metra’s Rock Island District and Metra Electric District Zones B, C and D.

Officials said the passes would be a good option for frequent riders of both systems, and provide passengers convenient access to all forms of mass transit serving the area.

CTA today also launched a new project website—www.redlinesouth.com—with extensive project information and history, as well as a project Twitter account, @redlinesouth.

CTA previously announced the multiple alternative travel options and discounts the agency will provide, 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 bus rides south of 63rd Street


Built in 1969, the South Red Line tracks are well beyond their expected lifespan.  Despite ongoing repairs and maintenance, between 30-40 percent of the branch includes slow zones in which trains must travel well below the designed speed limit.  In some cases, trains that would normally travel up to 55 mph are instead running at 15 mph. 

The reconstruction will shave up to 20 minutes off the round-trip between 95th Street and Roosevelt, while providing a smoother ride and fewer service interruptions through better reliability and on-time performance.

The project is also promoting job creation and economic development on the South Side.  Hundreds of construction jobs are expected to be generated, and the two construction contracts awarded for the track and station work include significant participation from Disadvantage Business Enterprise (DBE) contractors.

Further, CTA has hosted job fairs to attract 400 new bus drivers to operate shuttle buses and expanded supplemental bus service the CTA will offer customers during the Red Line South project.  Also, Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications recently announced 100 Traffic Control Aide positions to be assigned during the project.

The project is part of Mayor 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 Emanuel and Governor Pat Quinn for the Red and Purple lines.


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