The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) kicked off of the $425-million Red Line South Reconstruction Project May 19.
The CTA has temporarily ceased service along the 10.2-mile Red Line branch between Cermak-Chinatown to 95th Street for five months to build a brand new railroad from the ground up. The reconstruction will speed up round-trips between 95th Street and downtown and provide South Side customers with a smoother ride and fewer service interruptions through better reliability and on-time performance.
The shutdown will allow the work to be completed in the quickest, most cost-efficient manner. By doing the work over five months versus on weekends over four years, the CTA will save $75 million, money it is investing into rehabilitating eight of nine rail stations along the Red Line South branch. The ninth station, 95th Street Terminal, will be reconstructed in a separate, $240-million project next year.
“The Red Line South Reconstruction Project is a critical component to modernizing our railroad and to the economic development of Chicago’s South Side,” said CTA Chairman Terry Peterson. “Our customers and their neighborhoods will benefit for decades to come from this investment that CTA is making now.”
The Red Line South project includes replacing all ties, rails, third rail, drainage and communications systems and ballast. Station work includes lighting replacement or refurbishment, new signage, floor reglazing/repair, painting, cleaning and new elevators at the Garfield, 63rd and 87th stations.
“The CTA will provide our customers with a brand new railroad that will reduce round-trip commutes by 20 minutes and make traveling along the Red Line South a smoother, more reliable and more comfortable experience,” said CTA President Forest Claypool.
Built in 1969, the south Red Line tracks are well beyond their expected lifespan. Despite ongoing repairs and maintenance, 40 percent of the branch included slow zones. In some cases, trains that would normally travel up to 55 mph were instead running at 15 mph.