Recommendations for Orange, Red, Yellow line expansions

Over the last two months, the CTA held a series of public meetings to
announce what’s called the “locally preferred alternatives” for
expansions of the Orange, Red and Yellow lines. These meetings were
another step in the federally mandated process to get federal dollars
for such expansion projects. Here are the recommended expansion alternatives.

Orange Line expansion

Orange Line: The preferred route to expand service south from Midway to Ford City Mall is to use heavy rail technology along the Belt Railway in the Cicero Corridor. It would be a 2.2 mile extension with just one new station at the terminus in Ford City Mall.

With this expansion, the CTA hopes to:

  • Relieve congestion at Midway.
  • Accommodate growth in job opportunities.
  • Reduce lengthy bus trips to access the Orange Line.
  • Alleviate traffic congestion due to projected growth in the area.
Red Line extension

Red Line: The preferred route for expansion to 130th Street is a rail extension via the Union Pacific Railroad. Four new stations would serve the extension south to130th near the I-94 interchange.

The CTA cites these reasons for the expansion:

  • Significant bus and passenger congestion at the 95th Street stations.
  • Lengthy bus trips to access the 95th Street station.
  • Far South Side residents experience 20% longer commute times than the rest of the city.
  • Traffic congestion is expected to grow, along with population and employment.
Yellow Line extension

Yellow Line: The preferred route for expansion to Old Orchard Shopping Center is via heavy rail following the east option on the Union Pacific Railroad right of way, using elevated track.

The CTA hopes to serve these needs with the expansion:

  • Enhance access to the concentration of institution, employment and retail activity in the Old Orchard area.
  • Leverage existing transit infrastructure to provide locally orientedrapid transit service.
  • Support local land use and development goals.
  • Alleviate traffic congestion due to expected growth in Skokie population and employment.

Selecting the locally preferred alternative method for expansion is the second step in the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts Process. Next steps:

  • Incorporate public comments.
  • Review findings with FTA.
  • Get CTA board approval of the preferred alternative.
  • Then continue with the FTA process of preliminary engineering and environmental impact statement; final design; construction; completion/operation.

That all sounds so simple, eh? Don’t count on it. It’s a long road, but worth the effort if we can get these expansions done.


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  • I'll try again.

    I wonder if anything will get past the environmental review stage and be built, especially with the reliance on Ls in south places as South Cicero Ave. and between Niles Center Road and Old Orchard, even if the Ls in the pictures are not the eyesores to which we have become accustomed during the past 118 years.

    I continue to believe that the New Starts is just a consultant's relief bill, and nothing here has changed my mind on that, especially since it took 3 screens to get to the alternative on the Red Line that was wanted from the beginning.

  • In reply to jack:


    They are required to do 3 screens in order to qualify for federal funds. It's just the way it is...

    Also, I checked this site this morning and this post from Kevin was not up. But as of right now it says it was posted 7 hours ago. How come I couldn't see it then?

  • In reply to chris:

    Apparently the other 3 (Orange, Yellow, and Circle) got by with 2 to get to the predetermined conclusions (although in the Yellow case, there was a preexisting study by Skokie).

    It may be the way to qualify for federal funds, but with numerous more steps to go (i.e. environmental and engineering review), I'm still convinced that some will get tripped up on those stages (especially the Ls I mentioned) and I am not convinced that anything will be built in the near term (i.e. the next 5 to 10 years). Hence, just a jobs bill for the consultants. The Pink and Brown eventually did get built, and I don't remember them having to go through all of this rigmarole.

  • In reply to jack:

    The Brown line didn't create new track so it didn't need to meet these requirements. I'm not sure about the pink line, but a good portion of the line was also pre-existing.

    I agree with you that these projects will take a while to complete, but I do think they will happen. The yellow and orange I think are much closer to happening and seem to have a lot of community support. Also, they are not going as far and have less new stations, so I think the cost is less, but I might be mistaken on that.

  • In reply to jack:

    They really should put infill stations into the yellow line, providing more places for people to access and promoting transit-oriented development in that area.

  • In reply to chris:

    Chris, I had scheduled this post to go up at 6 am, but a system update glitch prevented that, and we had to put it up later. Though it still kept the time I originally meant for it to go live.

  • In reply to chris:

    I'm all for extensions, and I really hope these happen sooner then later. Its been 16 years since any "new" track to new areas has been laid and its about time to get things moving. The yellow line extension option with service to old orchard and Skokie court house/forest preserve is excellent in my opinion. A plus for bikers to get an easy brake from the city and hit the trails.

    Are there any plans in the works to add once existing stops back to the yellow? The line only has roughly 5,000 avg. weekday boardings (source: wiki) and I assume that would only go up with more service options and extensions making the line a little more viable. Its insane to think the yellow originally had the same amount of stops as the purple shuttle service has now.

  • In reply to chris:

    Alex: The same thing that I was thinking. I'd love to have the Yellow line stop at Dodge. That would be a much shorter walk than my current walk to South Blvd.

    IIRC, Skokie had plans to create a station at Oakton.

  • In reply to chris:

    We've discussed this in the past. They are planning on adding Yellow line intermediary stops. Oakton sounds like it will be the first. According to Wikipedia:

    "The planning process is nearing completion to establish a new intermediate stop on the Yellow Line at Oakton Street in downtown Skokie to serve the Illinois Science & Technology Park, which is scheduled to be completed in the near future, and other stops have been proposed at Kostner Avenue, Crawford Avenue, and perhaps on the section of the route in Evanston."

  • In reply to chris:

    We had all these stations years ago -- they were taken out in 1948, but the staions were in place for many years after. Sam Insull was way ahead of his time.

  • In reply to chris:

    Construction for the new yellow line stop has already started, they tore down a car repair place a few months ago for it.

    Also, anyone notice that they are going all elevated north of Searle? I wonder if that's because of the people complaining at the first meeting about railroad crossings and fears of their homes being demolished

  • In reply to jack:

    Oh, and I hope they get all of these extensions completed. More rail will only spur more ridership and further growth and improvement of the system.

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