Red Line south track work begins; how to find your way during construction

Today I boarded southbound Red Line trains with unfamiliar destination signs. One said it was headed to Roosevelt as its last stop. The other noted Ashland/63rd as its terminus. And no, I was not time-traveling back to the 1980s and early '90s, when the Red Line south traveled along the now Green Line tracks.

Yes, the Red Line south track reconstruction has officially commenced. Red Line south riders can find their way north and back home home at And the Chicago Tribune has developed this map with some of the suggested service alternatives.

Red Line alternatives-1Red Line alternatives-2


Leave a comment
  • Yes it was a trip back in time. Enjoy the ride up to the South Side L past Roosevelt, and be sure to shop at the Sears at 63rd and Halsted. But I forgot, it doesn't go that back far in time.

    Also, if it went back that far in time, it would have had an A Englewood-Howard sign.

  • Kudos to whomever at the Tribune made that graphic. It clearly shows where all the closed stations are, where the rerouted Red goes, and where the all the shuttles go all in one place. I think its the best one out there.

  • I was on a bus today eavesdropping on a conversation between a rider and the driver. The rider asked what stations were effected and the driver said the entire line was shut down and would remain shut for a year.

  • Saw a report on ABC7 news that the limestone ballast will be replaced with granite. The segment showed the granite being shipped on railroad hopper cars and the area where it is being stored- a huge pile of granite right now. Does anyone know if this will be the first CTA railroad to use granite?

  • In reply to BNSF1:

    As far as I know it will be, although there may be granite in the 1960s Lake St. replacement segment that shares the elevated C&NW [now UP] right of way from about Long Ave. west to River Forest, as the C&NW gave up two tracks they weren't using so the CTA could raise the tracks from street level that ran along side the embankment.

  • I was on a Purple Line train yesterday, and I noticed the route placards had been replaced with Purple/Yellow/Red maps that showed the temporary Red Line route. I assume that some of the Purple line consists are being used on the Red Line during off-peak hours?

  • I have a question for you "old timers". Does anyone know the rational for building the Red Line down the middle of the Dan Ryan when the Green Line runs parallel for almost half the length? It seems like a lot of money could have been saved by either a) extending the Green Line south to 95th (along Prairie or Calumet), or b) extending the Green Line by routing it over to the Dan Ryan at 63rd, either via 63rd/State St, or a short subway tunnel.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    When the Dan Ryan segment was completed, the original plan was to move the Jackson Park/Englewood Lines to the IC Mainline, where the IC was going to sell or lease 2 of its tracks to the CTA & run it to 115th St.
    Then the South Side Mainline as the CTA calls it would have been torn down.
    Why this never happened is unknown.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Boy, that sure would have made sense, as it would have provided the much needed extension of the L to the far south side.

    I'm curious why it hasn't come up in recent years with all the talk about extending the Red Line south. Didn't they tear down the elevated tracks on 63rd between Cottage Grove and the IC in the past decade? It would have been relatively straightforward to tie this segment into the IC (now CN owned) tracks.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    The decision to end service east of Cottage Grove was near the tail end of the 1994-1996 Green Line project, when the pastors at the Apostolic Church of God (known to me as the Church of No-L) decided that they did not want the planned Dorchester station on their doorstep. The L structure itself was torn down by the city in the very late 1990s, after FTA denied a CTA request for money for demolition, although FTA waived the need to refund money already allocated to that portion of the project.

    There was subsequently some townhouse development east of Woodlawn Ave., and an article in the Tribune Magazine to the effect that they may as well have torn down the L on the rest of 63rd east of Calumet, because the liquor store blight under it remained there.

    Service had before then been cut back to University, because the bridge over the IC became too corroded to be safely used, and was removed. documents that, and claims that some work was done on the Dorchester station before the church won.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    The original official word was (1) it extended the line 4 miles south [there certainly wasn't any right of way south of Prairie] (2) It was supposed to be "supplementary" of the South Side Main [but the SSM quickly lost its ridership], and (3) the Federal Government was partially paying for rapid transit in expressway medians, after the Garfield Park L was successfully moved to the median of the Congress {now Eisenhower} Expressway, including the Northwest {now Kennedy} Expressway at the same time (and right of ways were available there).

    Various rumors along the lines Scooter mentioned or that the SSM would be demolished and a ramp would go between the Dan Ryan and the L at 63rd have been mentioned.

  • In reply to jack:

    If you ever have the time, or know someone at the Sun-Times morgue, I'm positive it was a front page article on the proposed move to the IC Mainline back in the late 60s.
    It would takes weeks in the library of looking at microfilm to find it.
    And I'm sure it was the ST, as that was the paper my dad always bought. I don't think it's been digitized.
    I'll bet that both the CTA & city libraries have it, but the CTA one isn't open to the public & King Richie Daley made the Municipal Reference Library off limits to us also!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I certainly don't have the time.

    Also, if it was the late 60s, it would now be in the dustbin of history (and at best contemporaneous with the opening of the Dan Ryan line), along with saying that the Dan Ryan line was to be extended to a park and ride at 103rd and Doty. At least the median r.o.w. exists to that point.

    The only thing I recall close to that was a proposal to replace the Loop L with a cross downtown subway (probably Monroe) that would have had legs along the IC to McCormick Place and Streeterville. (That also involved a Wells or Franklin subway.) I don't recall if the SSM was supposed to connect to the south leg. Of course, that got forgotten about the time of the Defunct Downtown Circulator (as that is now classified).

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Where would they have tied into the IC? At 63rd, or closer to McCormick Place?

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    I'm pretty sure they wanted to take half of the St. Charles Airline for the connection.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I believe the SAL is slated for removal once the CN/NS are connected at Grand Crossing, which will allow the CN trains to skirt the downtown area. Once the SAL is gone, it would be difficult to get it back, I imagine.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    And if you want to get into "transit plans" or "rumors" that never happened due to lack of right of way, that includes extending the 63rd St. L to Midway, and the Ravenswood to Jefferson Park.

  • In reply to jack:

    Why wouldn't they have simply run the line over 63rd Street? Seems a lot easier than buying up property to for a RoW.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    If you mean the Englewood portion, that already ran around 63rd Place, not 63rd to Loomis, and then Ashland.

    And, as far as not running over the street, you have the combination of the blight issue noted above, plus it would be necessary for some public body to condemn the adjoining owners' easement of light and access provided by the street. That might have been cheap in the 1890s (maybe the Loop merchants were willing to deed away those easements, and the SSM was either in the allley or the area around 63rd was undeveloped prior to the World's Fair) but certainly would not be cheap today. Would you want an L casting a shadow on your house and rumbling overhead? Maybe Elwood Blues didn't mind it in his flophouse, but single family homeowners would.

  • In reply to jack:

    So, you're basically saying it's a NIMFY issue? :-)

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Of course, and also a money issue, as some agency would have had to pay to take the easements by eminent domain. Hence no agency is willing to suggest it, other, than an alternatives analysis report indicating that a short portion of the Orange Line extension to Ford City could be over the sidewalk from about 73rd to 76th.

    Heck, I'm not sure how the environmental review of the Red Line extension to 130th is going to justify taking property rights from the CN, even if the L structure is to be built to the side of its tracks. CN has been quite adamant that it doesn't want any interference with its freight activities.

  • In reply to jack:

    Why would the CTA need CN ROW for the extension to 130th?
    There's the median in the Calumet Expwy for it.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    1. There isn't median on the part formerly Doty Ave (i.e. south where the Dan Ryan fork of I-94 meets the Bishop Ford) other than Jersey barriers.

    2, It was quickly rejected in the Alternatives Analysis, and I believe rightly so, since there is no potential for walkup traffic. The best that could be said is that the 111 and 115 buses could have connected up at Mt. Trashmore (and maybe 103 and 353 at the proposed park and ride).

    3. The city said it has reserved ample vacant land at 115th and Michigan for a transit center.

    Theoretically, the AA leaves open the possibility of a south Halsted subway, but pretty much everything else has been rejected.

    Of course, there is no source of funding for anything.

  • I think all can agree that despite objections and criticisms, the Chicago Transit Authority pulled off the first week of the Dan Ryan Red Line Reconstruction quite successfully and now calendars will be marked day by day to see that the end-point is correctly reached. Heads will be turned while driving the Ryan expressway to monitor the work going on. Rail fans are licking their chops wondering if they could get any of those signals for their back yard patios.....not saying that there's not plans to reuse them; they're only seven year-old signals. Passing the 98th Street yard will have heads turned there when they spy the six car train of 2400 series cars sitting there, cut-off and isolated. But those cars will be the test train and they're in correct position since the contractor will finish the project from south to north. Observers from Washington, DC where they're also doing a lot of work, but on weekends only are looking jealously at Chicago now. I rode the first Ashland/63 train out of Howard. One fact was clear....the people sleeping aboard didn't seem to mind if the train went to 95th or to Ashland.

Leave a comment