South Side CTA rail commuters not only will enjoy a smoother, faster ride on the Red Line by the end of the year, but they also will get an extra benefit -- track and station improvements to the southern Green Line.
To prepare for the Green Line to handle the crush of Red Line riders during the five-month closure of the southern portion of the Red, the CTA currently is making a $20 million investment in the Green Line. From the news release:
Improvements that have been made or will be completed by May include improvements and temporary expansion of two Green Line stations, Garfield and Ashland/63rd, and significant track and signal work beginning south of Roosevelt at several locations along the Green Line that will eliminate emerging slow zones that could impact and reduce travel times.
The improvements will enable Green Line tracks and stations to accommodate additional trains during the Red Line South reconstruction—a $425 million initiative that will completely rebuild the Red Line between Cermak/Chinatown and 95th Street over a five-month period beginning May 19. Because the Red Line South project will require a five-month shutdown of that section of the Red Line, Red Line trains will run on elevated Green Line tracks between Ashland/63rd and Roosevelt. CTA will provide free shuttle buses that will transport customers from four Red Line stations south of 63rd Street to Garfield Green Line station.
CTA estimates the number of customers served along the Green Line during the Red Line South project could quadruple to more than 50,000 weekday rides. Rail service is being increased along the Green Line to Cottage Grove and customers travelling to Ashland/63rd will enjoy more frequent service via Red Line trains that will travel along the South Side elevated lines during the Red Line reconstruction period.
Improvements include extensive trackwork on the southern Green Line and Ashland/63rd and Cottage Grove branches, such as replacing rail ties, tracks and upgrading signal and switching equipment. The Garfield station is receiving upgrades including a bus staging area for Red Line South bus shuttle dropoffs and additional temporary turnstiles, signage, security cameras and lighting to handle additional passengers, as well as cleaning and improved lighting and signage. The Ashland/63rd station is receiving new roofing, painting, escalator and elevator rehabilitation, new stairs and other repairs. Other Green Line improvements include the installation of CTA Train Tracker signs at all Green Line stations south of Roosevelt.
The CTA has already begun track improvements requiring temporary weekend shutdowns of the Englewood branch of the Green Line to Ashland/63rd, affecting two stations: Halsted and Ashland/63rd. To assist passengers affected by the weekend line shutdowns, CTA is providing free bus shuttles during regular Green Line hours to connect the Ashland/63rd, Halsted and Garfield stations with a courtesy stop at Red Line - Garfield Station. Upcoming weekend shutdowns include:
- Friday, April 12, 10 p.m. – Monday, April 15, 4 a.m.
- Friday, April 19, 10 p.m. – Monday, April 22, 4 a.m.
Funding for the project was provided by the State of Illinois, including a $426 million state capital grant for the Red Line South project, part of more than $1 billion in federal, state and local funding announced in late 2011 by Mayor Emanuel and Governor Pat Quinn for the Red and Purple lines.