The CTA found itself on the horns of a dilemma.
Take four long years and pay an extra $75 million to rebuild the tracks along the South Red Line during weekend work.
Do that same work in five short months and spend that $75 million to make three stations accessible. But all nine stations south of Roosevelt on the Red Line would have to close.
The CTA chose the latter.
And I agree. But then, I don't use that branch of the Red Line every day, as tens of thousands do.
The CTA announced Monday it will close the Red Line -- from Cermak-Chinatown to its southern terminus at 95th Street -- for five months beginning in May 2013. Crews will replace everything in the track bed: ties, rail, third rail, ballast (the stone material that holds the ties in place) and drainage systems. Some stations also will receive improvements ranging from new canopies, paint and lighting upgrades to new benches and bike racks.
Additionally, the stations at Garfield, 63rd and 87th will get new elevators, making all stations on the South Side Red Line accessible.
The CTA will try to sweeten what many South Side riders think is a sour deal. It will provide many service alternative for riders, according to the website:
- Free shuttle buses from 69th, 79th, 87th and 95th/Dan Ryan stations to the Garfield station on the Green Line, including express service from stations and local, station-to-station service. (View alternate service map in larger size.)
- Free rail entry for shuttle bus riders at Garfield on the Green Line.
- 50 cent discounted bus rides on many South Side routes.
- The southern leg of the Red Line will run on Green Line tracks between Ashland/63rd and Roosevelt.
- Expanded bus service will be offered on existing routes.
The CTA also said it is working with the Chicago Urban League, Dawson Technical Institute, Hispanic American Construction Industry Association, Black Contractors United and other groups to promote opportunities, and is making efforts to ensure that local workers have the opportunity to pursue some of hundreds of jobs the work is expected to generate.
When the work $425 million project is completed in late 2013, riders from 95th Street will find about 20 minutes shaved off their trip to Roosevelt. Currently, slow zones cover about 40 percent of the 10-mile stretch south from Roosevelt, forcing speeds of 15 miles per hour or less. That's even slower than autos sometimes travel during bumper-to-bumper traffic on the adjacent Dan Ryan Expressway.
What do you South Side riders think of this decision?