CTA Red Line south will close May 19 to Oct. 19 for massive track rebuild

CTA Red Line south will close May 19 to Oct. 19 for massive track rebuild
No. 1: The South Red Line Dan Ryan track renewal project shut the 10-mile stretch for five months. It cost $425 million and some rider goodwill. But I give the CTA credit for finishing on time and on budget. (CTA photo)

The south end of the CTA’s Red Line will close three months from today for five months, CTA board chair Terry Peterson said at last week’s board meeting. The closure dates are May 19 through Oct. 19.

The CTA decided to shut down the Dan Ryan branch from Cermak/Chinatown through 95th for five months rather than put riders through four years of construction if it did the work on weekends while keeping the line running on weekdays. The CTA also says it will save $75 million with the short construction period – dollars they will invest in local transit improvements to South Red Line stations, including new elevators at Garfield, 63rd and 87th, as well as station improvements to all nine stations including painting, lighting repairs and other upgrades.

The scope of work. Everything in the track bed—the median area of the Dan Ryan Expressway—will be replaced: ties, rail, third rail and ballast (the stone/earthen material that holds the ties in place) and drainage systems. Additionally, stations will receive improvements ranging from new paint and lighting improvements to new benches and bike racks.

Alternative service during construction. According to the CTA website, Red Line riders will have three main options, each designed for convenience and efficiency:

  1. Free, station-to-station express bus shuttle service traveling between Garfield on the Green Line and 95th/Dan Ryan. Red Line stops at 95th/Dan Ryan, 87th, 79th and 69th will have their own shuttle bus service, continually running directly to Garfield on the Green Line (and back). Additionally, an express shuttle bus will continue to serve riders traveling between stations from 63rd to 95th Streets, making stops at each station.
  2. Red Line trains will travel on the Green Line tracks, south of Roosevelt, to Ashland/63rd. Red Line trains from Ashland/63rd will operate on the Green Line tracks through 35th-Bronzeville-IIT and then continue north to Howard via the subway.
  3. Green Line service will operate between Harlem/Lake and Cottage Grove, with service via downtown. (Some Green Line trains will operate between Harlem/Lake and the Loop, only, which will help reduce the likelihood of delays due to traffic on the parts where Green and Red will share track.)
  4. Entry at Garfield (Green Line, also with Red Line service) will be free for shuttle bus riders.
  5. 50 cent discounted bus rides on many South Side bus routes will also be offered.

Jobs, jobs, jobs. Yes, this project means lots of jobs, both construction jobs and CTA jobs for bus drivers to provide more service. The CTA is hiring 400 additional bus operators. These jobs are permanent and will replace positions that will become available over time, even after the construction project is over.


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  • Terry Peterson also stated that the CTA is negotiating with Metra, for some type (?) of temporary expanded service on the Electric District during the shutdown.

  • Well I hope they get it right this time.

  • Looking at the CTA explanation I can't figure out how they plan to get people to Chinatown? If the plan is to have "additional" buses on the normal route there is going to be a lot of pain for businesses there. Tourists especially just will not take that soon to be immensely crowded bus.

  • In reply to laoch:

    The displays at the meeting in Chinatown indicated that a shuttle bus would be added between the Chinatown station and the Roosevelt-Wabash one. See this handout.

  • In reply to jack:


  • Although the project sounds good, but who's willing to bet there will be new slow zones within 5 years or less?

    I noticed something very interesting on the CTA's Facebook and Flickr pages. It looks like last weekend they were pouring concrete ties and replacing rail in the NB Red Line tunnel near the curve just south of Clark/Division. I swear they did (or claimed they did) a full scale replacement of ALL half-ties and rail in the Red line subway just a handful of years ago and that this would eliminate slow zones for many years. I'd really like to know if this area was not redone in that project or if it was and it has now developed issues in just a few years time, requiring slow zones. There are a number of slow zones in the subway, some of which never make it onto the slow zone map despite them being in place for months now.

    The link to the photos:


  • In reply to Matt:

    Matt, good question on the prior rail work in the tunnel. I will try to find out.

  • In reply to Matt:

    Ever since they announced the shutdown, I've been asking what type of rock will be used for the ballast.
    If they use limestone [sometimes known as eggshell], it will fail again due to the drainage problems.
    They need to use granite, like the C&NW did for decades, which also lasts for decades. It might cost a bit more, but it won't disintegrate from water, the way the cheaper limestone does & did on the Ryan.

  • In reply to Matt:

    I was wondering the exact same thing. I am also curious when this work will result in the removal of slow zones. According to the latest map there are good amount of slow zones between Grand & North/Clybourn.

    Also, Kevin, maybe you can ask about the project to renew the track between the Merchandise Mart & Armitage. There are a tone of slow zones there now. They mentioned when they came to a new agreement when the iron workers that a project would begin in 2013 to address this, but I haven't seen anything, even though they are staging a lot of equipment and materials near Walter Payton HS.

  • In reply to Matt:

    The need to redo the concrete ties in both tunnels near Division St. because there have been several track fires where the flange lubrication grease ignited and damaged the concrete half ties. THe damaged ties resulted in slow zones in both tunnels.

  • Kevin that would be great. I just checked out the just posted slow zone map between Grand and the Division/Clybourn curve is riddled with new 15 mph slow zones. I can't wait to hear what excuse the CTA has what the reason is for the track deterioration in the subway. It's either shoddy work that was done when they supposedly replaced all the old wooden ties and/or lack of ongoing necessary maintenance. The subway doesn't use ballast, so that's not the issue. All these slow zones are going to be a BIG problem when they need all the capacity in the subway they can get when they send most of the Brown line trains through it during the Wells bridge project. It's going to create a very serious backup of trains.

    The Dan Ryan line is only one part of what appears to be a system currently in bad shape and getting worse very fast. I'd also like to know what the CTA has to say about the condition of the Congress Blue Line branch going from nearly slow zone free to 27.5% in about a year's time. Another few hundred million rebuild necessary as well on that line ? Brown is supposed to get it's fix from downtown to Armitage, but Red/Purple through Evanston and Rogers Park is still looking bad even though they claimed viaduct replacement in Evanston and the Red Line rehab projects would eliminate these by February 2013. The month's almost over and I haven't seen any track work in these areas in weeks.

  • I saw a news conference by the CTA.
    They're going back to creosoted wood ties.
    Instead of plastic or concrete ties.

    Oh, that's going to work out well!
    CTA rail is run by people too stupid to even be called idiots!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    They don't finish high school

  • I just saw their new website for this & they're still pounding out the same lie about what was done in 2005.
    They claim it was basically an electrical power upgrade with crossovers replaced.
    They totally ignore the miles of trackbed, ties & rail that was redone while running the trains on Shoefly tracks on the inner shoulder of the Ryan!

    Gee, I wonder why?

  • Your memory is flawed. There weren't "miles of shooflys." The shooflys were at interlocking crossovers and not all along the mainline. Admittedly, I'll be the first to admit that the CTA cannot do complicated switchwork with the smoothness you witness on Amtrak's NEC or on Dallas Dart or on European systems. The outside contractor that did Tower 12 on the Loop 'L' however did a marvelous job. No vibration, no noise, no shaking even when Orange and Green line trains do straight through moves at 35 MPH.

  • In reply to chicagopcc1:

    No, you're wrong!

    All the trackwork was removed & replaced between stations, PERIOD!!!
    Such as from 35th to 47th & 47th to Garfield!
    All of the rails were removed.
    All of the ties were removed.
    All of the ballast was removed.
    Huge temporary ramps for the trucks carrying out the old materials & bring in the new material were built at several locations from the overpasses to the ROW!

    The only place there wasn't any track replaced was at the stations.
    I rode it daily.
    So don't tell me not to believe what I saw!!!

    Go back to your altar of Green Hornets!

  • No, you're wrong!

    All the trackwork was removed & replaced between stations, PERIOD!!!
    Such as from 35th to 47th & 47th to Garfield!

    The only place there wasn't any track replaced was at the stations.
    I rode it daily.
    So don't tell me not to believe what I saw!!!

    Go back to your altar of Green Hornets!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Go to this page and scroll down to page 27 which shows shoofly at 94th St and shows shoofly is only at interlocking. Remainder of track between 94th and 87th St station is untouched.

  • Sorry for the double post, but the site crapped out when posting!

  • Don't believe me, maybe you trust the noted website "Chicago-L.org"

    "The major portion of the Dan Ryan Red Line Rehabilitation Project began in 2004 and consisted of three phases. Phase I replaced crossover track, installed a temporary signal system to support existing and upcoming track work, and began contact rail replacement from Cermak Road to 95th Street. Phase II involved constructing two new substations, upgrading two existing substations and demolishing one substation; installing a new bi-directional signal system; finishing replacing the contact rail; and installing new fiber optic cable. Station renovations were performed during Phase III, including elevator installations at 47th and 69th stations and refurbishment of platform canopies at eight stations from Sox-35th to 87th, inclusive. The three phases were performed in successive order, although each phase overlapped with the next one by several months.......

    "Mayor Daley, President Kruesi, and other officials formally kicked off the Dan Ryan Red Line Rehabilitation Project at a press conference on March 24, 2004, although some preliminary work began in early March......

    "The crossover and signal improvements on the Dan Ryan resulted in some interesting temporary operations to allow the new interlockings to be installed: the creation of temporary runaround "shoo-fly" tracks.......

    "The shoo-flies consisted of bypass tracks in each direction located outside the current CTA right-of-way on the left Dan Ryan Expressway shoulder (adjacent to the CTA right-of-way) in each direction. The creation of these bypass tracks, each of which stretched between 1,000 and 2,000 feet, allowed the CTA to maintain uninterrupted bi-directional traffic on the Red Line while taking the permanent tracks out of service for replacement. Work performed in the bypass areas included the replacement of tracks and ties, installation of new specialwork such as crossovers, and the sinking of new traction power cables and substation connections. The runarounds were only being established where certain work was required, not along the entire branch."

    Admittedly 2000 feet is a long stretch and perhaps gave you the impression that the entire track wasa b eing replaced. A standard city block is only 660 ft. long.

  • In reply to chicagopcc1:

    Chicago L org is a group of stooges that constantly parrot the CTA's lies.
    I repeat: I rode the Ryan line all that year & all the tracks between the stations I mentioned were replaced!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Scooter, I can't say what your recollections are, but chicagopcc1 is EXACTLY right, those shoeflys were only near the crossovers mostly North of each station.

    I distinctly remember the dual crossovers with diamonds replaced with the present single crossovers: https://www.google.com/local?q=1+W.+87th+St.+Chicago&hl=en&ll=41.738797,-87.62477&spn=0.002361,0.002248&sll=41.858924,-87.703483&sspn=0.0031475,0.0031475&oe=utf8&num=8&mrt=yp,loc&start=0&hnear=1+W+87th+St,+Chicago,+Illinois+60619&t=h&z=18

  • http://bit.ly/YqTlyh

  • So EVERYBODY LIES but Scooter Libbby. I think the readers will now fashion a new understanding of your posts and treat them with a grain of sodium chloride.

  • In reply to chicagopcc1:

    We went through this here last year when the CTA's spokeswoman claimed the same thing & several of us spoke & said they were lying!
    She then finally changed her tune when 'Jack', found the specific articles & posted the links.
    You don't replace multiple sections of 1000 or 2000 feet of track in both directions just to replace a crossover.
    You single track the line at night in sections as a crossover is never more than 150 feet long on the CTA.
    The same goes for replacing contact rail. They were replacing sections of contact rail on track 2 by Granville early last year while it was still operating during the midday, between rush hours! I know that, because I was on the platform watching them do it!

    The CTA is lying about this because the reconstruction, which should have lasted at least 30 years has failed after seven years!

    The entire North Side Mainline from Lawrence to Howard was replaced about 30 years ago & it managed to last at least for the first 25 in decent shape & it now needs replacement, which they've been doing in sections on weekends & bypassing stations.

    It's not everyone that lies, it's the CTA that lies & then the various local media repeat those lies without questions!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    You don't realize how stupid it looks when you make such erroneous statements. But then that can be expected from people who declare that everyone else lies and they alone know the truth.

    Scooter "everyone else lies" Libbby said, "You don't replace multiple sections of 1000 or 2000 feet of track in both directions just to replace a crossover."

    Shooflys of that length were built leaving room on both sides. You evidently didn't notice that the crossover north of 63rd St. station involves a "middle track" and the lead switch is north of the 59th St. viaduct. The matching switch at the other end is just north of the Norfolk Southern railroad viaduct, at 62nd St which is about three blocks. Let's see, new math is 3 times 660 ft, equals 1,980 ft. That would surely take a 2,000 ft. shoofly track plus. Score that "truth" one, Mr. Libbby zero. Add in the length stated truthfully and its "truth" two, Libbby zero.

    Mr. Scooter "knows all, never lies" Libbby said, "... crossover is never more than 150 feet long on the CTA."

    Shooflys were built at nine locations for crossovers on the Dan Ryan. Besides the 59th St. middle track, already accounted for, ONLY ONE of the remaining eight is a diamond double crossover, the shortest possible crossover. It's at 93rd/94th. But a simple Google Map search shows it to be almost 2/3 a block in length. 440 ft, not 150 ft.
    But its shoofly began at the north end of the 95th St. platform. The north end of its shoofly had to avoid the 93rd St. pedestrian overpass crossing the expressway, so the shoofly was much longer.

    All seven of the remaining crossovers use two pairs of switches back to back; two right hand switches and two left hand switches. That makes a crossing of almost a block long, 660 ft., way longer than any 150 ft. Seven quick Google Map searches would show this. But maybe Google Maps lie too.

    Railroads like the paired switch crossings because it's less trackwork, less involved, cheaper to build and cheaper and easier to maintain. The only drawback is the extra space that's needed but the CTA has plenty of right of way in the Dan Ryan median. Tally up eight more crossovers all longer than 150 ft. and eight more shooflys approaching 1,000 ft. Score now is "truth" eighteen, Libbby zero.

    In the future exercise more care before making erroneous statements because there are people capable of checking you.

    And as a postnote...what's with this name.....Scooter Libbby? Why the three letter "B's"? Spelling???


    The URL above is a picture of the shoofly north of the 95th St. station taken from the pedestrian overpass at 93rd St. . Notice the relocation of the driving lanes to the outside shoulders. The view is looking north towards 91st St. and the two railroad crossings there. Notice the planked crossing on the northbound 'L' track for vehicles to carry materials into and out of the work area. The third rail is interrupted of course, to allow for this. Notice that there is no construction from the crossover site all the way north to the next station, 87th St.

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