June 6, 2012

Chicago Transit to reconstruct rail line

Chicago Transit Board Chairman Terry Peterson and Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) President Forrest Claypool announced the complete reconstruction of the South Red Line from Cermak-Chinatown to 95th Street.

The project, one of the biggest CTA construction projects in its history, will completely rebuild the tracks and track bed on the 10-mile stretch of the Red Line known as the Dan Ryan Branch.

“Once this work is complete, our customers will be riding on a brand-new railroad. Their commutes will be faster, their rides will be smoother and more comfortable, and they’ll see fewer service interruptions thanks to better reliability,” said Claypool.

In spring 2013, CTA will close the South Red Line from Cermak-Chinatown to 95th Street for five months, affecting nine stations. To ease the impact on riders, CTA plans to offer multiple commuting options during this phase of the project.

“We realize this will have an impact on our customers,” Peterson said. “That’s why we are planning to offer multiple, convenient options for people to get around during the construction. Our No. 1 goal will be to make sure that we provide travel options for our customers so that they can get where they need to go.”

The five-month construction option will save $75 million over an option to perform work on weekends only. That $75 million savings will be reinvested into station upgrades along the South Red Line, such three new elevators, lighting, painting, electrical substation work and other improvements, and will also enable CTA to provide the extensive alternative service during construction.

Built in 1969, the South Red Line tracks are well beyond their expected lifespan. Despite ongoing repairs and maintenance, around 40% of the branch includes slow zones — where trains travel well below the designed speed limit. In some cases, Peterson said, trains that would normally travel up to 55 mph are instead running at 15 mph. The reconstruction will shave 20 minutes off the round-trip between 95th Street and Roosevelt, according to officials.

The work will replace all the ties, rails, third rail, drainage systems and ballast. The nine stations along the branch will receive improvements ranging from new lighting and paint to new bike racks. Elevators will be added at Garfield, 63rd and 87th Streets, making the entire South Red Line accessible.

More information about the project is available here.

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