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CTA alternatives, personnel in place for start of Red Line work

May 18, 2013 9:23:25 PM PDT
The massive Red Line reconstruction project is slated to begin early Sunday morning.

It will change the travel plans for tens of thousands of Chicagoans for the next five months.

Ten miles of track and nine stations from Cermak-Chinatown to 95th Street will be closed for all that time.

The service disruption starts at 2 a.m. Sunday morning.

Shuttle buses will run express from 95th, 87th, 79th and 69th street to Garfield, with free entry to the Green Line.

Five months is a long time, and the CTA recognizes that this will be a major disruption to the 80,000 people who regularly use the Dan Ryan branch of the Red Line, but they promise that it will be worth it as the average commute from Roosevelt to 95th Street will be cut by up to 20 minutes.

"It's slow. It's unreliable. There are points where you can't go more than 15 miles per hour. You could bicycle faster," said CTA spokesperson Tammy Chase.

For anyone who rides the CTA's Red Line south branch on a regular basis, that statement pretty much says it all. For 44 years, the Red Line south has gone untouched -- and it shows. So starting Sunday and over the next five months, the line is going to get a complete overhaul.

"In this condensed amount of time, we can rip out everything from the ground up -- all the way to the dirt, and we're going to put brand new everything in," said Chase.

From Cermak-Chinatown to 95th and the Dan Ryan. Nine stations will be entirely out of commission over the summer and fall months.

"It's a good thing and also it's a bad thing too," said CTA Red Line customer Elaine McCorkle.

At 95th street on Saturday, volunteers handed out pamphlets explaining the extensive list of alternatives the CTA has put in place. Among them, bus shuttles from 95th to 69th that will run to the Garfield Green Line station, which has been expanded to act as a new hub while construction is ongoing.

"From Garfield Green, people will be able to take the train for free, all five months. It doesn't matter who you are, where you are coming from," said Chase. "We're also doing 50 cent bus discounts for the existing east-west routes that are there now."

And while most people we spoke to understand the need for this overhaul, their main concern is the time that's about to be added to their daily commute.

"I already got to leave about an hour early before I get to work," said CTA Red Line rider Hoy Jackson. "Now I got to leave two hours early."

"It's probably going to take about 45 minutes more, but it's temporary," said CTA Red Line rider Patricia Miller.

As of Sunday, CTA will have extra personnel on hand at some stations with pamphlets detailing the various alternate service routes for people to get to and from work.


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