Underground Train

About the Red Line Extension

Connecting 95th Street Station to 130th Street


The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is proposing to make transportation improvements by extending the Red Line from the 95th Street Terminal to the vicinity of 130th Street. This project is one part of the Red Ahead Program to extend and enhance the entire Red Line.


Purpose & Need

The purpose of the Red Line Extension is to:

  • Reduce commute times for residents both within and south of the project area.
  • Improve mobility and accessibility for transit-dependent residents in the project area.
  • Improve rapid transit rail service to isolated areas and provide viable linkages between affordable housing (e.g., Altgeld Gardens public housing project), jobs, services, and educational opportunities, thereby enhancing livability and neighborhood vitality.
  • Provide an opportunity for potential connections and linkages to other public transportation modes including regional commuter rail in the project area.
  • Foster economic development in the project area, where new stations may serve as catalysts for neighborhood revitalization and help reverse decades of disinvestment in local business districts.

The RLE Project is needed to respond to the following problems:

  • Transit trips to jobs are longer for Far South Side residents than they are for passengers in the Chicago seven-county region as a whole.
  • Transit-dependent populations in the project area have limited direct access to rapid transit rail service.
  • The project area is geographically isolated from major activity centers and provides residents limited viable transportation options, which limit access between affordable housing and employment centers outside of the project area.
  • Existing transit markets are underserved and transit connectivity is challenging in the project area.
  • Disinvestment and limited economic development in the project area have negatively impacted Far South Side communities.


Project Alternatives

CTA began developing the alternatives that are being studied in Draft EIS during the Alternatives Analysis (AA) which took place from 2006 to 2009. 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.
In preparation for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), CTA evaluated the following alternatives and options:

  • No Build Alternative
  • Bus Rapid Transit Alternative
  • Union Pacific Railroad Rail (UPRR) Alternative
    • Right-of-Way Option
    • East Option
    • West Option
  • Halsted Rail Alternative

In August 2014, based on the technical analysis and public input CTA announced narrowing down the number of alternatives to a single Preferred Alternative with two options—the UPRR Rail Alternative. The Draft EIS will summarize the environmental benefits and impacts of the No Build Alternative and two UPRR Rail Alternative options: the East Option and the West Option.

No Build Alternative

The No Build Alternative is defined as the existing transportation system plus any committed transportation improvements that are already in the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) Fiscal Year 2010-2015 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). All elements of the No Build Alternative are included in each of the other alternatives.

The No Build Alternative would include the following:

  • Existing transportation system
  • Committed transportation improvements including bridge reconstructions, 95th Street Terminal Improvement Project, several road improvement projects including resurfacing and coordination of signal timing, work on Metra’s facilities, construction of a bicycle/pedestrian multi-use trail, and preservation of historic facilities
  • Bus transit service focused on the preservation of existing services and projects


Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) Rail Alternative – Locally Preferred Alternative 30pxcheckicon

The proposed UPRR Rail Alternative would extend the heavy rail transit line from the existing Red Line 95th Street Terminal to 130th Street. The UPRR Rail Alternative would operate on an elevated structure heading south from 95th Street along the I-57 Expressway for nearly one-half mile until reaching the UPRR corridor in the vicinity of Eggleston Avenue. The alignment would then turn south along the UPRR corridor to approximately 111th Street where it would turn southeast. East of South Prairie Avenue, the alignment would cross over the Canadian National/Metra Electric tracks near 119th Street, where it would transition to an at-grade profile and then continue southeast along the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District Chicago South Shore & South Ben Railroad (NICTD/CSS & SBRR) right-of-way using a portion of the Indiana Harbor Belt (IHB) alignment to terminate at 130th Street. The Chicago Transit Board selected the UPRR Alternative as the Locally Preferred Alternative on August 12, 2009.

The Locally Preferred Alternative would include the following features:

  • Transportation improvements that are already in the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning Fiscal Year 2010-2015 Transportation Improvement Program as described in the No Build Alternative
  • 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 terminal facilities at each station
  • Bus transit service from the south to the new stations for faster travel to downtown Chicago
  • New yard and shop at 120th Street

Two alignment options are being studied in the Draft EIS:

  • East Option
    Under this option, the CTA elevated structure would be placed immediately east of the Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way from 99th Street to 118th Street.
  • West Option
    Under this option, CTA elevated structure would be placed immediately west of Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way from 99th Street to north of 118th Street.

The proposed alignment of the rapid transit line would be the same for the two East and West options from 95th Street to 99th Street and from 118th Street to 130th Street.
Red Line Extenstion Alternatives Map

System status snapshot
‘L’ route status
Red Line
Normal Service
Blue Line
Normal Service
Brown Line
Normal Service
Green Line
Normal Service
Orange Line
Normal Service
Pink Line
Normal Service
Purple Line
Normal Service
Bus routes w/alerts
Elevator alerts