CTA Red Line South Reconstruction comes to a close

The Cermak-Chinatown Station along the CTA Red Line (prior to the recent reconstruction project). Photo Credit: Steve Y.
The Cermak-Chinatown Station along the CTA Red Line (prior to the recent reconstruction project). Photo Credit: Steve Y.

The Chicago Transit Authority (or CTA) in Chicago, IL has an extensive elevated rail system that runs from the heart of downtown to points south, west, and north. One of the system’s busiest “El” lines is the Red Line, which carries thousands of commuters to and from the downtown core each day. Red Line service currently operates 24/7!

On May 19, 2013, the CTA closed the entire southern section of the Red Line, south of the Roosevelt Station, for a five month reconstruction project. This project was necessary to replace aging infrastructure, much of which had exceeded the 40 year mark. The outdated rails and components caused trains to travel real slow through the southern section of the Red Line, thus causing increased commute times. It’s never a fun thing to have to ride a slow train to work…so why should it continue to be that way?

A map of how the Red Line operated between May 19, 2013 and October 20, 2013. Map comes from the Chicago CTA.
A map of how the Red Line operated between May 19, 2013 and October 20, 2013. From the Chicago CTA.

Rather than to spend approximately four years of conducting weekend-only work, the Chicago CTA decided that it would be best to conduct a full-scale closure of the Red Line, south of the Roosevelt Station, for the duration of May through October, 2013. During this closure, the southern portion of the Red Line was detoured via the Ashland branch of the Green Line, as shown in the map above. The Garfield Station of the Green Line was temporarily modified to handle the split line operation, as well as accommodate shuttle buses that ran from the Garfield Station down to the 95th/Dan Ryan Station. Additionally, the Green Line ran on a modified schedule during rush hour to make rush hour services more efficient during the Red Line detour.

The benefits of this reconstruction project will be far-reaching to customers; including faster commute times, improved stations, and ADA access to all nine Red Line South stations. The Chicago CTA will also benefit from cost savings of conducting the work over the span of five months with the complete closure, rather than over the course of four years with weekend-only work. Additionally, public art displays will be set up at eight of the nine southern stations to further enhance station appearance. In 2014, the CTA is planning to begin a major overhaul of the 95th/Dan Ryan terminus station that will bring forth even more benefits for customers of the southern Chicago area!

Project Photos and Videos

You can visit the CTA’s Facebook Page to view various photos of the Red Line South Reconstruction Project, from start to finish! You can also watch video updates through the CTAConnections YouTube Channel!

Please note that some of the information included in this blog post came from the Chicago CTA Red Line South Reconstruction Project web page. This page may be modified or removed from the CTA website after October 20, 2013, due to the completion of the project.

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