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Your summer commute could really start to suck

February 08, 2012|By Tracy Swartz, RedEye

The CTA said it may have to close affected Red Line stations for days at a time, reroute trains overnight and on the weekends and create slow zones to work on the tracks.

The planned construction on seven North Side Red Line stations will no doubt have riders seeing red.

The CTA said it may have to close the affected stations for days at a time, reroute trains overnight and on the weekends and create slow zones to work on the tracks.

The agency said it wants to start rehab work as soon as possible, but the bulk of it may come in the summer—when traffic for the Red Line is high because of Cubs and Sox games and other events.

The Red Line is the backbone to this city. In 2011, it saw more average weekday riders than the Brown, Green, Pink, Purple and Yellow Lines combined.

The line has already been plagued with problems for months. Twenty percent of its track is mired in slow zones, as of Tuesday.

Just last week, service was delayed because of problems with the third rail on the southern portion of the Red Line.

In the summer, Red Line trains are tough enough to ride because of game day crowds. Imagine how difficult it will be to get to a game with extra slow zones from construction.

And don't forget about the Gay Pride Parade, which winds through Boystown in June, and other events. Easy weekend trips downtown to visit museums may not be so easy during this project.

Train riders, it's probably time to start getting acquainted with the bus schedule.

A CTA official said this work is important to keep stations "safe and dry," but these will not be major facelifts.

The updates, which include water proofing and platform repairs, are not sexy. Riders may not even notice some of the changes.

The stations that are not accessible for people with disabilities will not become accessible through this project.

This work will just be a temporary fix, and when the CTA pulls off the Band-Aid next year—or in five years—to do more rehab, riders will no doubt get to see red again.

tswartz@tribune.com | @tracyswartz

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