In 2013, the CTA will shut down the Red Line from the Cermak-Chinatown station… (Heather Charles/Chicago…)
'13 is bound to be an unlucky number for many South Side Red Line riders.
The CTA announced Monday that it will shut down the Red Line from the Cermak-Chinatown station to the 95th Street stop for five months, starting in May 2013. The agency will reconstruct the corresponding 43-year-old track and make the Garfield, 63rd Street and 87th Street stations accessible for riders with disabilities.
In the interim, the 50,000 riders who use the South Side Red Line each weekday will be relegated to shuttle buses and/or the Green Line, which runs parallel to the Red Line about a half-mile or more away.
The CTA said it chose to close the southern portion of the Red Line for five months instead of working on the project piecemeal over four years. The shutdown is expected to save $75 million, the CTA said.
While the agency was light on details for its proposal for Red Line alternatives, one thing is certain: South Siders will continue their slow commute for another year, followed by five months of train pains.
Make no mistake, the southern section of the Red Line needs help. A portion of the Dan Ryan branch has been under slow zone since August 2006, according to maps posted on the CTA's website.
Last month, nearly 30 percent of this track was under slow zone, and most of the affected track saw trains traveling 15 mph.
CTA Board Chairman Terry Peterson said Monday that trains in that area should be traveling at 55 mph. When the $425 million project is complete, the trip between 95th Street and Cermak/Chinatown will be 10 minutes faster, the CTA said.
But the shutdown comes at the time of the year when Chicago depends heavily on the Red Line: baseball and tourist season. Sox-35th will be closed during construction, and Sox fans and visitors will use the 35th-Bronzeville Green Line stop or Metra's 35th Street "Lou" Jones station.
The shutdown also may burden the Garfield Green Line stop in Washington Park. Shuttle buses will bring riders from the 95th, 87th, 79th and 69th street Red Line stations to the Garfield Green Line stop, which sees about 1,300 riders each weekday. About 30,000 riders use those four Red Line stations each weekday.
Also, 11 CTA buses connect to the 95th Street Red Line station. Riders south of 95th Street that take a bus to the 95th Red Line station would now take a bus to a shuttle bus to the Garfield Green Line.
In presenting its plan Monday, the CTA said it would offer free rail entry for shuttle bus riders at the Garfield Green Line stop, expanded bus service on existing South Side routes and 50-cent discounted bus rides on some South Side routes but did not detail how these discounts would work and which routes would be discounted.
The CTA said it would hold community meetings and hammer out the details of its plan over the next year—just enough time for South Side riders to make vacation plans to avoid a bummer summer.
The CTA is hosting three open houses next week about potentially adding bus rapid transit, an express system that typically relies on bus-only lanes and traffic signal priority for buses, along the Western and Ashland avenue corridors.
The meetings, each from 5:30-7:30 p.m., will be: June 12 at Seventh District Police Station, 1438 W. 63rd St.; June 13 at Lane Tech College Prep High School, 2501 W. Addison St.; and June 14 at Wells Community Academy High School, 936 N. Ashland Ave.
The CTA will shuttle riders between the Main Street and Davis Street Purple Line stations this weekend as the agency continues its work on repairing the Purple Line viaducts.
Meanwhile, the CTA walked Going Public through the Granville stop before it closed for repairs Friday. Go to redeyechicago.com/goingpublic to see the areas of the station the CTA plans to fix in the next six weeks.
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A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note
This week: Francisco Brown Line
At the Francisco stop, the red (and orange, blue and pink) "carpet" has been rolled out for riders. Since 2007, the entrance of the Brown Line station in Albany Park has featured a floral mosaic called "carpet," a tile representation of an Oriental carpet. But after five years, the "L"-come mat is starting to show wear. Some of the tiles near the tracks of the street-level station are broken and could use repair. The bloom has come off the road a bit.
Next up: Adams/Wabash in the Loop.