A month into track reconstruction, CTA Red Line south on time, on budget

After a full month of track reconstruction, the CTA reports that its Red Line south project is on time and on budget. The transit agency also says alternative service by bus and rail is transporting almost 20,00 riders daily.

The Red Line South reconstruction project began May 19, requiring a temporary shutdown of 10 miles of track to completely rebuild it over five months. The project includes the rehabilitation of eight of nine Red Line South rail stations along the Red Line South. The ninth station, 95th Street Terminal, will be reconstructed in a separate, $240 million project next year.

CTA provided these details on alternative service:

  • More than 9,300 customers on an average weekday are taking express shuttles from 95th, 87th, 79th and 69th to Garfield.
  • More than 6,700 customers are taking the local shuttle, which makes all stops between 63rd and 95th.
  • More than 1,300 customers take the express shuttle between Cermak/Chinatown and Roosevelt Road.
  • Customers are increasing use of the Green, Orange and re-routed Red Line, as well as several north-south bus routes, including the #3 State, #4 Cottage Grove, J14 Jeffery Jump and #29 State.

Details on the railroad reconstruction:

The project includes replacing all railroad ties, rails, third rail, drainage and communications systems, and ballast, the stone material that holds the ties in place. Station work includes lighting replacement or refurbishment, new signage, floor reglazing/repair, painting, cleaning and new elevators at the Garfield, 63rd and 87th stations.

About 95 percent of the old tracks have been removed and 80 percent of the third rail, signals and communications cable has been finished. At shuttered Red Line South stations, demolition and foundation work has progressed in areas where new elevators will be built.

Check out the photo gallery of CTA photos of the work.


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  • Good news to hear that the Ryan Red Project is on time and that the shuttles and CTA southside 'L' and bus route services are going well. You left off a portion of the CTA report concerning jobs created:

    "Job creation
    The CTA estimates that overall jobs created by this project will top 1,000, including 400 part-time bus operators, 100 traffic control aides, 400-plus construction jobs and more."

    It is extremely rewarding to finally see a major project in the Black communities that has a good proportion of workers who are Black. Hats off and much praise to CTA officers for seeing their goals on community participation through to execution. All to often we see the all-white and now the all-Hispanic work crews in Black areas...and this in 2013. As an example, I believe the City contracted the Jeffery Jump BRT street work, curbs, sidewalks improvements to a contracting company from Summit, IL that worked Jeffery from 67th St. south to 100th St. and around the "U" shaped route to 103rd St. and had one Black worker. Everyone knows the J14's route is as Black as a route can get....one worker???? He didn't run machinery, didn't finish concrete, he flagged traffic. I asked him and he said he was the only Black the company had. Shame.

  • In reply to chicagopcc1:

    What does it matter the color of their skin, if the work is done well (croneyism aside) and at a good price?

  • In reply to chris:

    Because somehow CTA had to buy off the neighborhood, or else every alderman, Chicago Now community activist, and preacher would have gotten on TV to complain. They had just previously made a stink over the Metra bridge in Englewood.

    Apparently they were effective, since there hasn't been any organized protest in the 6 months leading to the closure or the 1 month into it. Also, John Kass hasn't written about Pink Guys owning minority contractors.

  • In reply to jack:

    Kass hasn't written about them because he's become obsessed with those stupid "love locks" he wants added to our movable bridges, even though he know that those idiotic things will require daily, costly, rebalancing of the bridge counterweights!

  • In reply to jack:

    So providing for job training, expanding the pool of prospective employables, insuring that more have access to opportunities is in your words, "buying off", "making a stink." You're getting awful close with your connotations to that "name calling" that Kevin previously warned you about. I'm sure his reputation will back up his words with action.

  • Not to be rude here, but what happened to giving the job to the most qualified person regardless of race?

    Back to the topic at hand, it's awesome news that the project is on-time and in budget! Great work to the CTA on this one.

  • In reply to mustangthz:

    Didn't anything happen to the concept you mentioned, unless that concept promoted exclusion, thwarted inclusion, and was used by some to maintain a status-quo that denied specific groups access to employment opportunity.

  • Since they are using granite ballast, does anyone know if they are using the same or different materials for the ties or anything else?

    It's very weird to see the trackbed completely bare.

    Jack, given the fact that they are using granite ballast, do you still stand by your assertion that the entire CTA will be shut down in the near future?

  • The choice between granite or limestone ballast is usually based on supply and availability and most railroads have their own usage standards. You will see limestone used on many railroads around Chicago because it is locally available. The limestone ballast used in the original 1969 construction proved unsuitable because the limestone was softer than the concrete bi-pad ties used originally. The ties pounded the limestone into limestone mud. The city reimbursed the CTA for the costs of replacing the French designed ties with wooden ties. There are still piles of the removed ties sitting in the CTA 63rd St. Lower Yard. And the tie design is still questioned. Railroads today use the one piece concrete tie and even that design has seen mass failures. The Ryan project is using standard wood railroad ties. The rail will be welded, similar to the Orange line, the last major construction project on the 'L' . The third rail will have the metal bar-like attached to the web of the rail to improve conductivty. Modern-day rail cars consume power at higher rates than older equipment. Upon project completion, the CTA maintenance forces will draw the responsibility of maintaining the "new railroad" and only time will tell if they are up to the job. Admittedly, maintaining special trackwork, like crossovers and other switch work has been a problem, leading to rough rides in years past.

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