March 17, 2004

Construction to Have Minimal Impact on Expressway and Rail Customers

Commuters who travel the Dan Ryan Expressway or the CTA Red Line during the Chicago Transit Authority's $282.6 million Red Line rehabilitation project will experience minimal impact, according to CTA officials who outlined plans today. The CTA has created an innovative traffic maintenance plan in order to maintain four lanes of expressway traffic for motorists and keep Red Line service running throughout the construction period.

CTA construction plans call for the use of the left lane and shoulder of the Expressway in both directions and involve a combination of lane shifts, ramp closures and by-pass tracks at eight work zones between Cermak Road and 95th Street. The work zones vary from 1,000 to 2,000 feet in length and are located between CTA rail stations. Work will be focused at two work zones at a time and will begin this weekend near 87th Street and soon thereafter, at 69th Street. Work zones near 45th Street, 63rd Street, 33rd Street, 94th Street, 55th Street and 79th Street will follow in order.

Lane Shifts

In order for Dan Ryan motorists to have access to the same number of driving lanes normally assigned to traffic, expressway traffic will shift to the outside shoulder when an adjacent work zone is active. The CTA has been smoothing and paving the right shoulder so that it can be used as a driving lane.

Lane shifts will occur at no more than two work zones at a time, each lasting from seven to nine weeks.

The first lane shifts are scheduled to begin between 88th Street and 84th Street, southbound on March 20 and northbound on March 24, followed three weeks later by lane shifts near 69th Street. CTA will provide a weekly schedule of upcoming lane shifts.

Temporary Ramp Closures

For safety reasons, select entrance ramps will be closed temporarily while lane shifts are underway, with no more than two ramps closed at any one time. Each ramp will close for approximately eight to 10 weeks. The first ramp closure, the northbound 87th Street ramp, is scheduled to begin on Sunday, March 21. Other temporary ramp closures will be ? in order ? northbound 71st Street ramp, northbound 95th Street ramp, northbound 79th Street ramp and southbound 76th Street ramp.

By-Pass Tracks

Freeing up the left lane and shoulder of the Expressway makes way for CTA contractors to build a set of north and south bound by-pass tracks at each work zone. The by-pass tracks will temporarily route Red Line trains onto the shoulder and left lane of the Expressway around the existing CTA track, which will become a construction work zone. The by-pass plan was created to keep rail service running with minimal disruptions on the Red Line, which is the CTA's busiest rail line providing 63,155,799 rides in 2003.

The by-pass tracks will be positioned between the CTA's existing concrete barrier and a new temporary concrete barrier. The configuration is very similar to the barrier that currently exists between the Dan Ryan Expressway and Red Line trains.

A total of eight sets of by-pass tracks will be built over the course of the project. There will only be two sets of by-pass tracks constructed and operating at any given time, each lasting from six to eight weeks. Boarding procedures for CTA customers will remain the same, as by-pass tracks detour around work zones but return to each station along the route. Customers will, however, experience a slightly slower trip as trains enter and exit the by-pass track.

The rehabilitation project includes power, signal and communication upgrades for more than nine miles of the Red Line from Cermak-Chinatown to 95th Street, as well as station renovations.

Increased demand for electricity on the line makes the power component the most significant aspect of the project. CTA operates longer and more frequent trains than it did on the Red Line when it opened in 1969, with more modern rail cars that require more power from the third rail to operate.

Power components of the project include the construction of two new substations, upgrades to two other substations and the installation of new contact rail, which will result in increased power for the branch.

Seven stations along the line, Sox-35th to 87th, will receive upgrades that include new flooring, refurbished platform canopies, enhanced lighting, new Customer Assistance kiosks and improved signs. Eight escalators along the branch will be replaced and two new elevators will be installed, one each at 47th and 69th, making the stations newly accessible to customers with disabilities.

Kiewit/Reyes, AJV (A Joint Venture), is the general contractor for the Red Line Rehabilitation Project.

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