The RLE Project would extend the heavy rail Red Line from the existing 95th Street Terminal to 130th Street. The alignment would run south along I-94 from the 95th Street Terminal, then curve west along the north side of I-57 (within the I-57 right-of-way) for nearly ½ mile until reaching the UPRR corridor near Eggleston Avenue. The alignment would then turn south to follow the UPRR corridor. From I-57 south to approximately 108th Place, the route would run along the west side of the UPRR tracks, and then the route would cross the UPRR tracks and run along the east side of the tracks until crossing the Metra Electric tracks near 119th Street and continuing south to 130th Street.
The RLE Project would include the following features:
- 5.3-mile heavy rail transit line extension from 95th Street Terminal to 130th Street
- Four new stations at 103rd Street, 111th Street, Michigan Avenue, and 130th Street
- New park & ride and bus facilities at each station with a total of 3,700 parking spaces along the corridor
- New yard and shop at 120th Street
The following figures are photo simulations of the proposed project:
103rd Street Station (facing northeast)
103rd Street Station (facing south)
111th Street Station (facing west)
Alternatives development history
CTA undertook an extensive Alternatives Analysis process from 2006–2009 that considered multiple modes and corridor options for the RLE Project.
Starting with multiple modes and corridor options, CTA developed and screened alternatives through a combination of conceptual engineering, public input (open houses and stakeholder meetings), and preliminary analysis of potential impacts and costs.
The Chicago Transit Board designated the UPRR Alternative as the Locally Preferred Alternative on August 12, 2009.
In preparation for the Draft EIS and based on the outcomes of the Alternatives Analysis, CTA evaluated the following alternatives and options from 2012–2014:
- No Build Alternative
- Bus Rapid Transit Alternative
- Union Pacific Railroad Rail (UPRR) Rail Alternative
- Right-of-Way Option
- East Option
- West Option
- Halsted Rail Alternative
In August 2014, based on the technical analysis and public input until then, CTA announced the NEPA Preferred Alternative—the UPRR Alternative. Because the Right-of-Way Option is not feasible, the Draft EIS evaluated only the East and West Options for the UPRR Alternative. The Draft EIS summarizes the environmental benefits and impacts of the No Build Alternative and the two UPRR Alternative options.
Based on public feedback, technical analysis, and agency coordination, CTA selected a Preferred Alignment in January 2018. The Preferred Alignment is a combination of the previously presented East and West Options, which would capture the benefits and minimizes the impacts of either option and incorporates the feedback received on the Draft EIS.