On the Dan Ryan branch of the CTA Red Line, 30 percent of the track requires slow zones for safe operations, according to the March slow zone map. There are more than 101,000 linear track feet of slows zones on the Dan Ryan branch, accounting for 22 percent of all slow zones systemwide. The map shows only two lengths of track between stations are free of slow zones: from 47th to 55th, and from 69th to 79th.
So what is the CTA's plan for repairing this horrible condition?
"In 2013, all slow zones along this 10-mile stretch of track will be addressed as part of the Dan Ryan Track Renewal project, which will rebuild the tracks from just north of the Cermak/Chinatown station to the 95th/Dan Ryan station," said a CTA spokesperson. "As part of this same project, work also will include station improvements (lighting upgrades, painting, canopy repairs, bike racks, etc.) at the nine stations along the branch."
Regular maintenance work to maintain track conditions will continue throughout 2012.
I've heard rumors that the CTA will totally shut down portions of the Dan Ryan branch, but they are unsubstantiated. When asked about these rumors, a CTA spokesperson emailed me: "CTA is still determining the construction phasing of the Dan Ryan project; no plans are finalized. More project info should be available in the next several weeks."
North end of the Red Line
And then there are the slow zones on the north end of the Red Line. Virtually the entire length of track from Wilson to Howard is in some slow zone either on the northbound or southbound tracks. I asked the CTA what its plans are for the north end slow zones. Here is the reply I got:
While work associated with the Red North Station Interim Improvements project is performed, CTA crews will coordinate with the contractor and take advantage of the temporary track closures to address many of the slow zones along the North Red Line tracks.
Although work at the seven selected stations is expected to be complete by the end of the year, CTA track work may continue into early-2013. Importantly, this work is not likely to eliminate all slow zones along this portion of the branch.
In general, we expect these interim improvements to be followed by the implementation of the Red, Purple Modernization project, which will provide this portion of the Red/Purple lines with new infrastructure (tracks, viaducts, stations, etc.) that will have a significantly longer useful life. However, this work could be many years away based on availability of funds and the completion of the planning and approval process.
So, there is some hope, but patience also is required.