Here's what work CTA did five years ago on Red Line's Dan Ryan Branch

In comments on yesterday's post, some readers were wondering why the Red Line south of the Loop would need additional repairs, as reported in the Tribune Monday. After all, didn't the CTA finish a big project on the Dan Ryan branch about five years.

Well, I asked a CTA spokesperson that question. Below is her reply.

The project you are thinking of on the Dan Ryan branch was power delivery and some station work, not track. The proposed track renewal work would replace ballast, ties, rails and the drainage system. It is a slow zone removal/prevention project. Currently more than 20% of the branch is in slow zones.

The previous project was $282.6 million and included power, signal and communication upgrades for more than nine miles of the Red Line from Cermak-Chinatown to 95th Street, as well as station renovations.


Sox-35th Station on the Red Line. (Flickr photo by Zol87)

Improving power reliability and the delivery of that power was the most
significant aspects of the project, including construction of two new
substations, upgrades to two other substations and the installation of
new contact rail (3rd rail).

Seven stations along the line, Sox-35th to 87th, received upgrades that
included new flooring, refurbished platform canopies, enhanced lighting,
new Customer Assistance kiosks and improved signs.

Prior to the project, the 95th, 79th and Sox-35th stations were the only
facilities on the branch accessible to customers with disabilities.
During construction, 10 escalators along the branch were replaced and
two new elevators were installed, one each at 47th and 69th, making the
stations newly accessible to customers with disabilities. Altogether,
five stations are now accessible (95th, 79th, Sox-35th, 47th and 69th)
on the branch.

CTA also made enhancements to improve bus connectivity, such as curb
cuts, canopies over station entrances, improved lighting on the approach
to each station and a mid-bridge canopy at 47th Street station.

In November 2003, as a precursor to the project, CTA rehabilitated bus
bridges at 69th and 95th Streets and completed renovations to the
stationhouse at Sox-35th.

With the entire Red Line rehab project completed, CTA has rehabilitated
bus bridges at 69th and 95th Streets, made upgrades at Sox-35th,
improved signal, communications and power substation systems, and
renovated seven Red Line stations.

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  • Thanks Kevin. I was at the Red/Purple line presentation last night and received the same answer when I asked CTA reps about this. If you take a look at the deteriorating rail ties at the Garfield Red Line stop, it's pretty obvious that they haven't been replaced in a long time. That said, the cost of these rehabs are incredible.

    One of the other interesting things mentioned in the meeting is how the CTA is positioning this project, the south Red Line extension, and the Red/Purple line renovation as all part of the same larger project. That has the potential to (a) get more city residents interested in the projects, since a huge chunk of transit riders are affected by these three projects and (b) improve the chances of getting funding, since a pretty broad coalition of politicians (in the city, the state, and DC) will have an interest in getting some part of this done.

    I just hope they've figured out which to prioritize (unfortunately, the extension should be lowest priority) if the money doesn't come all at once.

  • Who am I supposed to believe, the CTA or my lying eyes?
    Except at the stations, the entire track structure of the Dan Ryan line was removed & rebuilt!
    I rode on it, just like I rode the shoefly bridge over the C&NW Wood St. yard on the Douglas many years ago when the CTA rebuilt their permanent viaduct over the yard!
    The trains ran on shoefly tracks [temporary tracks] that were built on the inside shoulders of the Ryan. This occurred just prior the reconstruction of the Ryan.
    Maybe it wasn't 5 years ago, it might have been 7 years ago.
    It doesn't matter!
    The tracks were rebuilt & your CTA spokeswoman is an outright LIAR!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Sometimes you truly amaze me Scooter, though I probably shouldn't be. Why do you think the CTA would lie about this? Do you think they really *want* to spend money they don't have on maintenance that (you think) is not needed?

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    Read my comment, Kevin. They are either lying, or expect us to parse their words so closely that they are about as true as Clinton not having sex with that woman. What's the explanation for the "trackwork between Cermak and 47th?" Maybe 300 feet over 3 miles (30,000 feet both directions)?

    You should have been amazed by what the anonymous spokesperson told you, not by Scooter. Scooter is spot on.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, just for the record, it's Scoother who is anonymous to me. Never met him before. Only know him by his hatred here of the CTA. I know exactly who the spokesperson is (Noelle Gaffney), I have met her on a number of occasions. I have worked with her literally hundreds of times over the course of seven years, and have no reason to believe she is lying.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    You aren't even reading straight.

    You said "Well, I asked a CTA spokesperson that question. Below is her reply." I said "You should have been amazed by what the anonymous spokesperson told you." The antecedent to you is Kevin O'Neil. The reference was to an anonymous spokesperson, not anonymous blogger.

    Why don't you give us the name of the employee of Sheila Gregory who spilled the goods?

    Am I clear enough now?

  • In reply to jack:

    I guess you did. Sorry.

    And since it is Noelle Gaffney, yes I believe that she is lying.

    If she isn't, whoever submitted the construction report was.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, I told you the name. The spokesperson is Sheila's boss, Noelle Gaffney. I'm done with this stupid line of questioning.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    That's true, and I retracted. How about the line of questioning in my original post below?

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    I'll say it again: Noelle Gaffney is an outright LIAR!
    Call her back & ask her why the trains ran on shoefly track?
    I want her to try to deny it!

    And I'll repost my comment from yesterday's thread that most will have missed:
    I rode the subway into the Dan Ryan line & there were several serious problems.
    1. In the newer subway tunnel from Roosevelt south to the 16th St. portal, the train rocked sideways almost the entire distance extremely hard.
    2. There are serious problems with the signal system. I sat in the first car & the motorman's cab chime went off constantly, forcing the train to slow to 5MPH for numerous stretches.
    From Cermak to 26th St., 32nd. to 36th. & 43rd to 47th.
    These slow downs didn't happen the last time I rode this stretch a few weeks ago.
    3. When I got off at Garfield, I looked down at the wood ties, they are severely deteriorated as seen from the south side of the Garfield bridge looking down.
    I looked south on both tracks & they appear to be perfectly straight, but I know my eyes aren't accurate in this regard.
    4. However, there is an additional problem, flat spots on the wheels. The car I was in was particularly bad. There's no doubt it was flat spots, the slight bumping increased or decreased depending on speed.
    This isn't just a CTA problem, Metra also has a large number of coaches with even worse flat spotting on their wheels. This must be a cost cutting measure, as removing wheels to put on the lathe is expensive & time consuming, plus the wheels can have a limited amount of steel that can be removed before they must be scrapped.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Scooter, don't all of your observations prove that the CTA needs to do lots of repairs on this branch?

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    My observations are about work that's only 5 years old in most cases!
    They just rebuilt those sections & they don't work now!
    All of the signal problems are in lengths of track that were torn out & rebuilt.
    Why don't the signals work correctly?
    The incessant false positives requiring trains to slow down or stop have been a nagging issue for at least 10 years now. Why can't they fix this?
    They are using standard off the shelf railroad signaling equipment. Cab signals were used on the Key System in Oakland, Cal. on the Bay Bridge back in the 1940s due to the severe density of the fog. The motormen couldn't see the wayside signal, so cab signaling was used. The rest of the world uses this & it works fine there. The only system with signal problems is Washington & they use a French made system. It's not the same as the CTA's.
    Even worse is that NYC subways can operate on 2 minute headways with 80+ year old signaling & they don't crash into each other!
    Here's a challenge to everyone: Ride the Red Line from Loyola south to Wilson or the reverse. Stand in the first car & look through the window just behind the motorman. Listen for the cab chime to sound to tell the motorman to slow or stop. Look ahead & see if you can see another train. You won't. Two miles of track, totally straight from Lawrence to Devon & it won't have one single train on your track, but the cab signals are telling the motorman to slow down!
    Because either the CTA bought junk or the CTA can't figure out how to properly use it.
    I claim it's the latter, since other systems use it without problems.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    A friend pointed me to this document on the CTA site. It explains what it did on the Dan Ryan project. And it certainly doesn't include replacing all track.

    Excerpt from above:

    Red Line/Dan Ryan Rehabilitation Project Project Summary

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    Did you miss out what's in the document you posted?
    "Replaced track work between Cermak and 47th
    Upgraded the branch to a bidirectional signal system"

    That's what Jack & I have been writing all morning!
    They replaced the tracks & signals & neither work properly now!
    Less than 5 years old!

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    ...But they didn't replace ALL the track south of the Loop. I haven't seen any scope of work documents. I would assume they would exclude that portion of the track in the scope. That's less than half the total distance - only 24 blocks (three miles) of the 77 total blocks between 18th and 95th. There's 48 city blocks between 47th and 95th - six miles of track.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    1. I only ride to Garfield, I have no idea what the ride south of there is like.
    2. The signal problems i encountered yesterday, Jan. 24, were between Cermak & 47th, right where they rebuilt the signals!
    3. I don't keep a journal recording where & when the CTA does repair jobs. But the CTA does have this data & Gaffney should have been straight forward with you that major track work was done between Cermak & 47th. Instead, she lied by omission & left that out of what she told you earlier!
    She, like all previous CTA spokesmen is thoroughly untrustworthy.

    Either the signaling system they bought is junk or the CTA doesn't know how to maintain it!
    Again, I go with the second choice!

    What's needed here is a RTA inspector general to look into all of the work of all three agencies, as none of them seem to be able to run themselves properly & then tell the public the truth about what's going on.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    As soon as the Governor signs the Bill, you should contact the IG, as one of the assigned tasks of the Bill is to eliminate W A S T E.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    This is basically b.s., and you shouldn't accept what a "CTA spokesperson" told you.

    As Scooter pointed out yesterday, they constructed shoefly tracks into the expressway. Now, why would that be necessary if they only upgraded the signals and power? They, more recently did "signal and power work" on the Blue Line, and while the relay houses were built over the tracks, just like on the Dan Ryan, there were no reports about track being put on the expressway.

    Kevin Zolkiewicz of did a survey of CTA slow zone maps, and noted "I was looking at historical slow zone maps last night. At the completion of the project in January 2007, all slow zones were gone. Yet by May of that same year, they returned and various parts of the line have had slow zone restrictions ever since." I haven't verified independently what Kevin said, but one can go through and do so.

    One can also look at the March 2007 Construction Report, which says under "Red Line/Dan Ryan Rehabilitation Project Project Summary:" "Eliminate slow zones" and "Replaced ten crossovers Replaced track work between Cermak and 47th"

    So, did they lie then, or are they lying now?

    And, to answer Kevin Z., was the purpose of the project to eliminate slow zones for five months?

    And for you AB, you said yesterday that the manufacturer should pay for the potential defect in the signals on the Orange Line. Now, there was nothing in that press release to say that it was a manufacturing defect, nor that the manufacturer gave a 17 year warranty? Yet, you acknowledge that the ties are in bad shape on the Red Line. Are you also willing to acknowledge that CTA got conned on that job, or tried to con us?

    As I said many times before, CTA does not need a hoard of spokespersons to lie to us, nor need I accept what CTA says about the scope or quality of work they accepted. The only job we haven't heard about going bad was the Pink Line; apparently the NABIs, Green Line (in 1996), Brown Line, and now Red Line were half assed jobs. If Homer Simpson is their quality control chief, is anyone really going to trust CTA for $4 billion for their "consultant's vision" of a North Red Line?

    As I said already, I am not brain dead.

  • In reply to jack:

    "One can also look at the March 2007 Construction Report, which says under "Red Line/Dan Ryan Rehabilitation Project Project Summary:" "Eliminate slow zones" and "Replaced ten crossovers Replaced track work between Cermak and 47th" "

    Jack, does that report, or any of the several reports say "eliminate slow zones - by replacing/rebuilding track"?
    Or could the elimination of the slow zones at that time be more specifically tied to the actual nature of the project -- improving the power supply to that long stretch of track? As I understood it, by improving the power supply (new and additional substations), they were allowing more trains to operate more frequently, eliminating the need for a train to wait to enter a section because there were too many other trains already drawing power there.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    You are parsing, too.

    Go back and read what I said about what Kevin Z. said.

    Am I supposed to believe that slow zones are actually eliminated if there was no intention to fix the track?

    The Blue Line project just said signals and power. Nobody made any assertion about slow zones there, although they did claim to replace track past Jefferson Park. Maybe, in five years, we will learn that that was fraudulent too.

    Maybe the real answer is that CTA should quit parsing and come clean with the taxpayers. For instance, like Clinton, I can honestly say that I did not have sex with my girlfriend, but I would at least be honest enough to say that we did engage in "adult activity" resulting in ejaculation.

    CTA shouldn't leave it for perhaps mayoral candidate Rahm to post a website found by Hilkevitch to get this out to the public.

    In any event, it is up to CTA, not you, to explain the apparent discrepancy. Noelle has not.

  • In reply to jack:

    jack, the press release on the Orange Line work says "the CTA discovered a potential defect in a component of the Orange Line

  • In reply to aaronjbrown:

    "As for your conspiracy theories about the Red Line rehab, I'd like to see your proof that the CTA replaced all the ballast, track and ties five years ago. If not, then maybe (just maybe) the CTA isn't making this up."

    You note that I said above that it is up to CTA to demonstrate what they did with the $300 million 4-6 years ago, and now want another $300 million. It is not up to me to prove that they did the job they claimed during that time. As I said, they lied to the public then or they lied to Emanuel. It looks like the former may be true.

    For that matter, AB, why don't you show me a NABI bus (which had a 12 year FTA useful life) on the streets today? As I noted, the CTA has had a history with these quality debacles.

    Let me make it clear to the CTA Apologists--The burden of proof is on the CTA, not me. Show us what you did with the last $300 m, and why the project goal of eliminating slow zones was accomplished for four months. What was the engineered useful life of that work?

  • In reply to jack:

    No, jack. The burden of proof is on conspiracy theorists. And just because you put it in bold font doesn't make it true.

    I can just as easily claim that the CTA spent that $300mm on trains that fly, and now I'm outraged that these flying trains have apparently been taken off the system. Why does the CTA want to keep me from riding in the flying trains that my tax dollars went to purchase??!!??!! It must be because CTA management is stupid/evil and wants me to suffer.

    Now you might say this is nonsense, but the burden of proof is on the CTA to show me that they never bought any flying trains. If they don't do so, I'm going to rant endlessly and call everyone there a liar, regardless of how reasonable their explanation of what they did do with the money is.

  • In reply to jack:

    Track reconstruction occurred between CERMAK and 47TH. You did not imagine this. However, the track between 47th and 95th (including Garfield) has not yet been rebuilt and still needs work.

    I'm more upset about the pricetag. CTA recently rebuilt the track in the Dearborn subway, 3.7 miles of double-track for $88 million. Now apparently, it's $300 million for 4.3 miles of double-track.

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