CTA Reminds Customers that Red Line South Construction Project Begins Today

May 19, 2013

Agency offers free shuttles, additional bus service, bus discounts and free train rides at Garfield Green during five-month project that completely rebuilds 10.2-mile South Side branch

Chicago Transit Board Chairman Terry Peterson and Chicago Transit Authority President Forrest Claypool today marked the kickoff of the Red Line South Reconstruction Project, a $425 million rebuilding of the Red Line South rail line that officially began around 2 a.m. Sunday and is one of the largest construction projects in CTA’s history.

The CTA has temporarily ceased service along the 10.2-mile Red Line branch between Cermak-Chinatown to 95th Street for five months to build a brand new railroad from the ground up. The reconstruction will speed up round-trips between 95th Street and downtown and provide South Side customers with a smoother ride and fewer service interruptions through better reliability and on-time performance.

The five-month shutdown will allow the work to be completed in the quickest, most cost-efficient manner. By doing the work over five months versus on weekends over four years, the CTA will save $75 million, money it is investing into rehabilitating eight of nine rail stations along the Red Line South branch. The ninth station, 95th Street Terminal, will be reconstructed in a separate, $240 million project next year.

“The Red Line South Reconstruction Project is a critical component to modernizing our railroad and to the economic development of Chicago’s South Side,” said CTA Chairman Peterson. “Our customers and their neighborhoods will benefit for decades to come from this investment that CTA is making now.”

The Red Line South project includes replacing all railroad ties, rails, third rail, drainage and communications systems, and ballast, the stone material that holds the ties in place. Station work includes lighting replacement or refurbishment, new signage, floor reglazing/repair, painting, cleaning and new elevators at the Garfield, 63rd and 87th stations.

“The CTA will provide our customers with a brand new railroad that will reduce round-trip commutes by 20 minutes and make traveling along the Red Line South a smoother, more reliable and more comfortable experience,” said CTA President Claypool. “We fully understand the impact this will have on our customers in the short-term and appreciate their patience, and are fully prepared to offer ample service alternatives to get them to where they need to go.”

To help CTA customers plan alternative travel during the project, the CTA is offering multiple travel options to help passengers find alternative travel routes. CTA’s redlinesouth.com contains a wealth of information about many service alternatives and price discounts/free rides, which include:

  • FREEshuttle 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
  • Red Line service will be rerouted south of Roosevelt onto the elevated Green Line tracks to Ashland/63rd.
  • 35th/IIT/Bronzeville Green Line station will serve White Sox customers attending home games; station is located just a few blocks east of 35th/Sox Red Line and in easy walking distance of the ballpark

CTA customers can also continue to access the easy-to-use online trip planner at redlinesouth.com to explore the CTA service options available during the Red Line South project. Using their desktop or any internet-connected device, users can enter a starting point and destination, choose weekday or weekend travel, and indicate a time of travel. The trip planner uses Google Maps to provide information on multiple transit-route options, including travel-time estimates.

The CTA has worked closely with government and community leaders on educating the public about this project. As part of its extensive, months-long outreach effort, the CTA distributed project information fliers with travel tips and information on alternative bus and rail service—with specific suggestions for defined geographic areas to help customers get around during the five-month project. The CTA created 12 versions of the fliers, each targeted to various communities in the project area, with travel options for riders who would normally use the Red Line. These brochures are available online at redlinesouth.com. Last month, the CTA deployed “Red Line South Ambassadors” to south Red Line stations on a rotating basis to answer customer questions and provide project and travel information.

The CTA also encourages customers to follow @RedLineSouth on Twitter for the latest project updates.

Built in 1969, the south Red Line tracks are well beyond their expected lifespan. Despite ongoing repairs and maintenance, with more than 40 percent of the branch including 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 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 Governor Pat Quinn and Mayor Emanuel for the Red and Purple lines. The Governor’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital program is providing more than $700 million of the total investment.

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