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The CTA circles of hell

  • Passing CTA "L" trains in the Loop along Wabash Ave., from the Trump International Hotel as shot through a tilt-shift lens Thursday, Sept. 23, 2010. (Brian Cassella/ Chicago Tribune)
Passing CTA "L" trains in the Loop along Wabash Ave., from the…
April 29, 2013|By Tracy Swartz, @tracyswartz | RedEye

Riders, no need to abandon all hope when you enter the CTA this summer. The second phase of the Wells Street Bridge project, which started Friday and will continue until early Monday, means Brown Line reroutes and also the start of CTA construction season.

Going Public guides you through the projects and ranks them by which Circle of "L" they fall under, in the vein of Dante's "Inferno," a 14th century poem about Hell.

>> Red Line

Circle of "L": Fifth Circle, Anger

Welcome to the Dread Line. Starting May 19, the Red Line between Cermak-Chinatown and 95th Street will close for five months during a $425 million track overhaul. The CTA will run shuttles to the Garfield Green Line station, where entry will be free. Red Line trains also will operate on Green Line tracks.

South Side riders should plan ahead and allow extra time. The scope of this project is historic, and there's no way to know how much longer it will take riders to commute during the five months.

Riders can trace their best route options with the trip planner the CTA launched last week at transitchicago.com/redsouth.

>> Purple Line

Circle of "L": Second Circle, Lust

Like in the "Inferno," the souls in this circle may go without rest. The city of Evanston announced last week that slow-zone removal on the Purple Line north of Howard Street will begin next month, and work will mostly take place at night and on the weekends.

The CTA expects to tackle track south of the South Boulevard stop through north of the Main stop in May and work its way north through November.

In its announcement, Evanston said residents near the Purple Line may experience a noise level similar to jackhammers and heavy road work.

This project, a replacement of 6,000-plus railroad ties, will be the first major upgrade to Purple Line track since 1976. Thirty-six percent of the Purple Line is under slow zone, during which trains travel 35 mph or slower.

Purple Line ridership was down 5.6 percent year-to-date in February as riders have desired different commutes. More information is at cityofevanston.org/purpleline.

>> Green Line

Circle of "L": First Circle, Limbo

To prepare for thousands of Red Line riders migrating during the Red Line South project, the Green Line has become a place of transition. Weekend work to the line ended earlier this month, as the CTA upgraded track to handle the extra capacity from Red Line trains.

When the Red Line project is over, South Side Green Line riders should notice their slow zones have been eliminated thanks to the upgrades. About 24 percent of Green Line track on the Englewood branch was under slow zone this month.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Department of Transportation is expected to break ground in June for the Cermak Green Line station in between the 35th/Bronzeville/IIT and Roosevelt stations.

Stationary

A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note

This week: 87th Street Red Line

This station in Chatham is one of three stops that will see the most dramatic makeovers during the Red Line South project. The 87th, Garfield and 63rd stations will be getting elevators to make the stops accessible for riders with disabilities. The rest of the southern Red Line is accessible. During the project, riders who typically use this station have the option to shuttle to the Green Line, take an alternate bus or ride the Metra Electric District line, which is adding service to its 87th Street station at Dauphin Avenue.

Next up: Damen Blue Line

tswartz@tribune.com

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