Plans for rail line extensions inch forward with board approval

The CTA board today approved the "locally preferred alternatives" for extending the Red, Orange and Yellow train lines. That means they OKed the results of months of planning and community meetings to narrow down routes and final termination points for the lines.

Next up is the stage where the CTA studies the environmental impact of each line extension and reports on that. I note that these plans are "inching forward" because there is plenty more work to do and hoops to jump through. But it least we are moving forward.

Excerpts from the CTA press release:

The locally preferred alternatives adopted for each rail line:

  • Red Line: The CTA recommends an elevated rail extension southeast from the current 95th Street Red Line station to 130th Street.
  • Orange Line: The CTA recommends a rail extension from the current Midway Orange Line station to approximately 7600 S. Cicero Avenue.
  • Yellow Line: The CTA recommends a single-track elevated rail extension from the current Skokie Yellow Line station to Old Orchard Road. 

Read this post for more details and maps.


Leave a comment
  • Just a little note, as far as I can tell the Yellow Line plans are not just an extension, but also elevation of the line just north of Searle (aka, rebuilding the current Skokie stop to be above-grade and getting rid of 2 railroad crossings)

  • In reply to sargas:

    That seems correct, in that most plans indicate that a grade crossing is not wanted at Dempster. There were other consultants' reports that for that reason, and the need for a grade to get over Dempster, the existing station would have to be replaced.

    I sort of have the feeling, given that Carole brushed off the persons representing Niles North H.S., who objected to an L station on school property, saying that there were more stages for public input, that this project may bite the dust at the environmental review stage; I also find it hard to believe that there will be sufficient economic justification for it. However, that is just projecting on my part.

    I was also going to comment on the lack of the Circle Line, but the CTA site indicates that while it was the first to go through Screens 1 and 2, there apparently will be a Screen 3--three years after Screen 2. Wonder why.

  • In reply to sargas:

    Pretty cool that they have all passed the initial stage... There's lots more work to do, but hopefully at least some of this work gets done. Maybe if the Yellow Line extension is successful it will help suburbanites to support rail and actually use it more too.

    Like Jack, I think the Circle Line needs to get moved along as well. I'm not sure what the holdup was.

  • In reply to chris:

    Like Jack.

    No, unlike Jack.

  • In reply to jack:

    To put my position on the table, IMO, the only clearly justified extension is the Red Line, given the boarding statistics at 95th and the number of buses routed into there, which would be routed into far more southern multimodal centers (including routes 103-106, 111, 352, 353, and perhaps a new route linking Algeld Gardens and Hegeswisch to the 130th station).

    I see the justification for the Orange Line in that the Midway area is too congested, but question whether an L over Cicero Ave. will pass environmental review.

    I think the Yellow Line is questionable because I don't see the potential ridership, the environmental problems noted, and the fact that a shuttle bug system would have to be instituted to reach the final destinations (Westfield and the office buildings).

    Finally, I think that the Circle Line is an expensive boondoggle proposed by someone who was forced out. Need I say more?

  • In reply to jack:

    Oh, sorry... I misunderstood.

    I do like the idea of the Cross-town transit line better. Aspects of the circle line seem good to me, others not as much. I like the concept, but not sure if the implementation is perfect.

  • One can look at the Board Presentation, which estimates in 2030, 1.8 million riders for the Yellow Line, compared to 13 million for the Red. And one has to assume that Old Orchard will not be a dead mall by then.

    Your other assumption is that people will walk, when there is ample parking. I really doubt that someone is going to walk from 5000 Old Orchard Rd. to the hospital at 4400 W. Golf, or to the county courthouse at 5600 W. Old Orchard, unless they really have to. In fact, I doubt that they would walk across the Old Orchard parking lot unless they really had to.

    Besides that, the 54A and 97 buses are weak. I doubt that there is just a transfer that keeps people from using them.

    Therefore, unless this extension really proves to be a viable alternative to the car, I don't see it drawing discretionary riders.

    On the other hand, 95th Street proves that it already has enough transfer traffic to justify moving the terminal south (in my mind, at least to 115th).

  • I'm certainly not sure that the people will consider 1-1/2 miles walking distance, especially in winter, or over the Edens overpass.

    If people in Lakeview want to shop at Nordstrom's or Macy's, they can go downtown. I wonder if those people want to drag their couture packages on the L, but they can use the subway if they want. And they don't have to walk a half mile to the station to do it. What you are suggesting is the equivalent of closing all Red Line stations between, say Chicago and Harrison, and expect people to walk it to State and Washington, when they are going shopping. I also doubt that Lakeview residents are going to take the L to Skokie just to save 1% on the sales tax to shop at Macy's and similar types of stores. If they are that concerned, they'll drive to Hawthorne or Oakbrook.

    As far as who needs economic development, if it is assumed that transit brings it, it certainly is Roseland. Also, Skokie is more concerned about economic development downtown (Oakton and Lincoln), which the proposed Oakton station can bring extremely economically. Compared to that, I don't think Skokie is very concerned about urbanizing the area around Old Orchard.

  • In reply to jack:

    Not that I frequently tend to agree with them, but I see that the Tribune Editorial Board did concur with my priorities.

  • At one time? Let me know when that happened? And permanently (except perhaps for Washington)?

    Your "urbanizing" points also seem to indicate that you are unfamiliar with the Old Orchard area, unless you are now indicating that the real purpose is to get potential employees to the existing office buildings around there. If that was the case, the Alternative that should have been selected was the one to stay on the old North Shore railroad right of way, west of the Edens, instead of curving toward Niles North H.S.

    Since your main justification seems to be that people from Lakeview want to get to Old Orchard for some reason, and are willing to walk a mile from the train station to get to their destinations, let's also consider the politics of that:

    1. The people from the South Side will claim that they are neglected again, after 40 years. If you don't believe that, look at the record of the Circle Line hearings, when that was being pushed before the Red Line ones. That was a frequent comment, even though technically it was not on topic. There undoubtedly will be the calls of classism and racism, and no doubt complaints to the FTA (such as what Mike Payne filed when his Gray Line was going nowhere, in several senses).

    2. In the meantime, if the Yellow line, as here proposed, gets past the environmental review, the school board will contest the condemnation of its property, and you will have suits by the factions opposing an L on visual grounds.

    Meantime, while this squabbling goes on, you have, according to the current Ridership, Report, about 2 million entries a year at 95th, which is 1/4 of all the entries on the Dan Ryan branch. You can also bet that there are that many transfers from the train to the bus at that station by people returning. If that doesn't call for relief (in that transfers to and from the bus routes I mentioned, and add in 119 could be shifted to stations south), I don't know what does.

    I doubt that either the Lakeview shoppers, or workers on Old Orchard Road that could but don't transfer to the 54A or 205 buses generate that kind of ridership. Nor that huge numbers of people from Lakeview shop at Old Orchard, and use the Yellow Line and the 54A or 97 buses to get there, but you seem to have dropped that point.

  • It is a little hard to believe that Old Orchard would benefit that much from a line being built out there. I think that people bring shopping bags on the CTA because they work downtown and stop of their way home. I can't prove that, and I don't "know" it, but it is what I do and what other people I know do. I would be unlikely to take the L up to Old Orchard to shop.

    As for employment, it might be a little easier for more people to realistically apply for jobs there. This seems like a lot of money for that minimal benefit.

Leave a comment