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Red Line Reconstruction Project gets mixed reviews after 1st weekday

May 20, 2013 4:58:20 PM PDT
The CTA Red Line Reconstruction Project put weekday commuters to the test Monday with all stops closed from Cermak-Chinatown to 95th. Some commuters said the trip was easy, while others said they were rethinking plans for Tuesday.

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The project began officially at 2 a.m. Sunday. For five months, nine stops along the 10.2- mile southern part of the Red Line, known as the Dan Ryan branch, are closed to allow crews to build a brand new railroad. When the $425 million project is over, CTA officials say Red Line passengers will have a faster ride.

The affected train stops include:

  • 95th/Dan Ryan
  • 87th
  • 79th
  • 69th
  • 63rd
  • Garfield
  • 47th
  • Sox-35th
  • Cermak-Chinatown

10 miles of Red Line track replaced

The Red Line is so beaten down by age that ten miles of it needs to be completely replaced. Rails gone, limestone ballast removed.

The limestone will be replaced with granite. 195,000 tons of it, shipped by rail from North Carolina to the Port of Chicago. Right now it's a giant mountain in waiting, but when installed, the granite ballast will last longer, drain better, and make for a smoother ride.

"I'm not gonna complain about this. I'd rather for them to fix that and to have something look nice in my neighborhood than to complain about it," said CTA Red Line passenger Keith Moore.

It's getting there that will present some aggravation, and differing opinions on how well it's working.

First rush hour commute during reconstruction

Crowds were seen Monday at the Garfield Green Line stop as many Red Line customers being rerouted passed through that stop to transfer between shuttle buses and trains running on the Green Line to take passengers downtown and to other parts of the city.

Free shuttle buses were transporting riders from closed Red Line stops to the Garfield Green Line stop, and CTA workers were on hand to help answer commuters' questions.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel checked in on commuters at they got off shuttle buses at the Garfield stop Monday.

"We are asking a lot of the commuters and the workers, but I think everybody is working together to do what we need to do to bring the Red Line into the 21st century," the mayor said.

"The North Side will have to be rebuilt eventually, but the South Side has had the worst system for many years," CTA President Forrest Claypool said. "It is an intolerable situation."

Commuters react to Red Line reconstruction

"I didn't have any problems. It was smooth," said CTA Red Line passenger Solomon Collins.

But Monday's commute was bound to be problematic for some.

Diane Rosales may buy a car.

"It's already and hour and a half for me to get to work and now im looking at two hours two hours and ...twenty minutes to get to and from work. It's too much," said Rosales.

That leaves other train line options and shuttle buses for 80,000 riders.

Dwight Brooks says after an hour extra on CTA today, he may try the Metra tomorrow.

"If it improves service, then I can't say anything bad about it, but if it doesn't, what's the point?" said Brooks.

Student Malik Martin says he was late for school. His only option is starting earlier.

"It usually takes me an hour and thirty minutes, now I think it will take me two," said Martin.

Dawn Davis was on time for work but left an hour early today.

"I can't walk up these stairs. I have to take the elevator. Had to make sure this station was up to par," said Davis.

Many riders trying to get to work were trying to maneuver and figure out new ways to get to their destinations using the free shuttle buses provided by the CTA and the Green Line trains.

CTA officials say they hope the closed Red Line train stops will be reopened in October 2013.

Alternative routes, shuttles, additional buses

The CTA is offering several alternatives during the Red Line Reconstruction Project, including free shuttles, free Green Line entry, discounted bus fares, and additional and expanded bus routes.

CTA Recommended Alternatives

    Getting Downtown:
  • Free shuttle buses with 24-hour service from 69th, 79th, 87th and 95th/Dan Ryan stations to the Garfield station on the Green Line, including express service from stations, with free entry at Garfield for shuttle bus riders, and a local, station-to-station shuttle from 63rd to 95th/Dan Ryan. A fifth shuttle will provide express service between the Roosevelt and Cermak-Chinatown stations.
  • Free rail entry for shuttle bus riders at Garfield on the Green Line
  • 50 cent discounted bus rides on many South Side routes
  • 24-hour Red Line service via the Green Line tracks between Roosevelt and Ashland/63rd
  • Expanded bus service on existing routes

Express shuttles from the Red Line's closed 79th, 87th and 95th train stations will run along the Dan Ryan Expressway. The shuttle from the 69th train station will follow State Street. All will drop off passengers at the Green Line Garfield stop.

Another express shuttle bus, #R22, will transport passengers from the closed Red Line Cermak-Chinatown station to the Red Line Roosevelt station, which remains open. There passengers can also connect with the Green and Orange lines.

Other bus routes that may provide good alternatives include:

  • #1 Bronzeville/Union Station, #3 King Drive, #4 Cottage Grove, #24 Wentworth, #29 State or #62 Archer direct to Downtown.
  • #8 Halsted, #9 Ashland or #44 Wallace/Racine to Orange Line stations. Transfer to Orange Line trains.
  • Orange Line trains direct to Downtown.
  • Metra Electric trains from 23rd and 27th St. stations direct to Downtown (requires second fare payment).

    Getting to South Side destinations:
  • #R22 Cermak-Roosevelt Express to Roosevelt. Transfer to Red Line (lower level) or Green Line (upper level) trains going south, then transfer to express bus shuttles or east-west bus routes.
  • #3 King Drive, #4 Cottage Grove, #8 Halsted, #9 Ashland or #44 Wallace/Racine. Transfer to east-west bus routes.
  • 35th/IIT/Bronzeville Green Line station will serve White Sox customers attending home games; station is located a few blocks east of 35th/Sox Red Line and in walking distance of the ballpark.

CTA also created a trip planner from Red Line

Find the routes in your neighborhood

The CTA also divided up the areas near the Dan Ryan branch into 12 zones, and is offering suggestions on alternatives:

Zone 1: Lower West Side, Near South Side, Pilsen, Heart of Chicago, Bridgeport, Armour Square, Douglas

Zone 2: McKinley Park, Bridgeport, New City, Back of the Yards, Canaryville, Armour Square, Fuller Park

Zone 3: Douglas, Oakland, Grand Boulevard, Bronzeville, Kenwood, Washington Park, Englewood, Woodlawn, Hyde Park

Zone 4: Gage Park, West Elsdon, West Lawn, Chicago Lawn, Marquette Park

Zone 5: West Lawn, Chicago Lawn, Ashburn, Marquette Park, Scottsdale, Wrightwood

Zone 6: Englewood, West Englewood, Auburn Gresham

Zone 7: Grand Crossing, Chatham, Park Manor

Zone 8: South Shore, Avalon Park, South Chicago, Calumet Heights, Pill Hill, South Deering, Jeffery Manor, East Side

Zone 9: Kenwood, Hyde Park, Woodlawn

Zone 10: Chatham, Burnside, Cottage Grove Heights, West Chesterfield, Princeton Park, Roseland, Washington Heights, Brainerd, Longwood Manor

Zone 11: Washington Heights, Beverly, Evergreen Park, Brainerd, Longwood Manor

Zone 12: Roseland, Pullman, West Pullman, Riverdale, Altgeld Gardens, South Deering, East Side, Hegewisch, Morgan Park, Washington Heights, Beverly, Mount Greenwood


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