Nearly 100 buildings would be razed to build preferred Red Line south extension

Almost 100 residential buildings could be torn down if the “locally preferred alternative” for the the Red Line south extension were to be built. That’s what the CTA revealed at a community meeting Tuesday night.

Red south preferred alternativeMore than 250 total land parcels would have to be acquired for the “preferred” extension alternative. From the CTA website:

The proposed UPRR Rail Alternative would extend the heavy rail transit line from the existing Red Line 95th Street Terminal to 130th Street. The UPRR Rail Alternative would operate on an elevated structure heading south from 95th Street along the I-57 Expressway for nearly one-half mile until reaching the UPRR corridor in the vicinity of Eggleston Avenue. The alignment would then turn south along the UPRR corridor to approximately 111th Street where it would turn southeast. East of South Prairie Avenue, the alignment would cross over the Canadian National/Metra Electric tracks near 119th Street, where it would transition to an at-grade profile and then continue southeast along the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District Chicago South Shore & South Ben Railroad (NICTD/CSS & SBRR) right-of-way using a portion of the Indiana Harbor Belt (IHB) alignment to terminate at 130th Street.

The Locally Preferred Alternative would include the following features:

  • Transportation improvements that are already in the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning Fiscal Year 2010-2015 Transportation Improvement Program as described in the No Build Alternative

  • 5.3-mile heavy rail transit line extension from 95th Street Terminal to 130th Street

  • Four new stations at 103rd Street, 111th Street, Michigan Avenue, and 130th Street

  • New park & ride and bus terminal facilities at each station

  • Bus transit service from the south to the new stations for faster travel to downtown Chicago

  • New yard and shop at 120th Street

The Sun-Times reported on the impact of other alternatives:

If an elevated were built west of the UP tracks, up to 195 parcels would need to be purchased, 30 of them residential.

Another alternative, which would run the extension down the center of Halsted Street, would require seizing 110 parcels, including 17 residential ones.

A final option, involving a bus “rapid transit” system with dedicated bus lanes, would require seizing only 52 parcels, including one residential one.

In comparison, the CTA seized 40 parcels before a project to expand capacity on the Brown Line, completed in 2009.

No estimate of the maximum number of people displaced by each alternative was available.

There were lots of North Siders unhappy about just 16 buildings that would have to be razed if the Belmont Flyover is built. And yet I haven’t heard the same cries on the Far South Side about the nearly 100 buildings with targets on their roofs. Maybe word hasn’t gotten out yet.
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    I'm stunned it's going to take that much to extend the line. There will be more outcry because that's a lot and it's a lot more than even I expected.

  • In reply to ApresSki:

    I'm getting the felling that this is going to be used as an excuse to not build it, as it will cost too much.
    Just figure out a way to subsidize rides on the Metra Electric & have CTA transfer privileges & that will cover the area almost the same & cost billions less.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I thought I had something like that idea (but I just got laughed at) -- some others do think it is a possibility though:

  • Has governor lack of testicular virility Quinn done anything about the Fitzgerald report? I see that you did write to Fitzgerald, but it sure appears that that (and his ethics commission report) have been ash canned.

    Maybe you'll have more luck when Rauner is governor, but we know that the invertebrate is not going to stand up to Bashar al-Madigan or Rahm.

    Speaking of Rahm, I don't find it unconnected that there were stories yesterday that some school principal wrote a letter to the Sun-Times, which in effect said that anything said had to be vetted through the PR apparatus. What we have been saying about RT News from CTA again seems to be a consistent MO of this administration.

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    100 buildings?! I wonder if it wouldn't be cheaper to built it underground at this point.

  • In reply to Cirano:

    If the main cost is for the multimodal terminals, no. Instead of some property adjoining the tracks, they would have to demolish basically the corners of Halsted and 103, 111, 115, and 119. Maybe there are still a few businesses there.

    I debated a couple of years ago, when the north side subway alternative was barely credible, that in the 21st century, people were not going to accept a hole with a stairway in the sidewalk.

    One also has to figure that the condemnation is to provide sufficient clearance from the mainline railroad to install elevators and the like.

  • In reply to jack:

    If you look at a satellite view of 115th and Michigan, there's nothing there. The UP tracks cross Michigan a few hundred yards south of 115th. There used to be a shopping center at the corner, but it was demolished years ago.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Supposedly, the city reserved that land for the station, although I lost the reference to that a long time ago.

    However, the issues seem to be 103rd and 111th. I don't see why the 111 bus couldn't be routed into the 115th station.

  • And after the motormen/operators are finished cleaning their entire 8 car trains, they will also assist in the demolition..

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    Enough already.
    That joke was beaten to death weeks ago.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Too bad. Of course I am being absurd. No more absurd than motormen/operators cleaning their entire 8 car train.

  • Maybe the difference is that in Roseland, the total bill will be about as much as to condemn one condo unit in Lakeview. Removal of south side folk to Blue Island, Dolton, and Harvey has been happening for about 20 years.

    However, this demonstrates that even where they think they have a right of way, it isn't adequate. There certainly is enough vacant city owned land at 115th and Michigan, but if they are going to do something like have full mutlimodal terminals at places such as at the Derrion Albert Memorial Station, they are going to have to clear out land for it.

    Of course, if they actually build it, they will have to justify the wasted $240 million, mostly in debt, for the 95th bus terminal project.

    The last thing indicates to me that the BRT project is the only one that has a chance.

    Finally, this campaign promise doesn't appear to be doing Emanuel any good in a neighborhood where he needed some votes.

  • In reply to jack:

    I was going to say the exact same thing regarding the differences in value of buildings in respect to the areas.

  • Ditto on the property values in Roseland.

    How on earth do you design a extension in 2014 without a station near one of the Metra Electric stations? This is the type of half-a** planning you get when you don't have a single agency overseeing the region's public transportation network. They should build an additional station at 119th and Front (Kensington Park) that would allow transfers between the 2 Metra Electric lines and the Red Line. Having to travel to the end of the line (South Station Option) to pick up the South Shore would be a PITA, assuming the SS and RL share stations.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    As you picked up on the 130th South Shore proposal, the only real issue is whether the Red Line should connect with the ME. The South Shore one is only to accommodate people from Indiana going somewhere south of 57th, but, by bypassing the Kensington station, NICTD said there weren't enough to bother.

    As far as coordination between CTA and Metra, that was hashed out above.

  • Unlike the flyover, this would actually bring transit service to an underserved part of the city.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    The flyover would bring more service to a part of the city with high transit demand, which is essentially being underserved by the existing capacity constraints.

  • In reply to ArchiJake:

    Where was it said that they were going to add service with the flyover? The issue is delays, not a lack of service. Brown line trains operate near track capacity now with the 3 minute service. The flyover is to minimize delays. That's not meeting an undeserved need.

  • In reply to ibright05:

    No, the CTA has said they will add 6-9 trains in each rush hour to the Red Line, which carries about 40% of the entire rail passengers of all 8 lines.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Okay so I checked the red line schedule and now i'm confused. The red line used to run every 3 minutes during the peak going southbound in the morning and it doesn't anymore but it still does in the afternoon. Now I don't want to get all conspiracy theorist (there are others on the site to do it for me) but why is the red line suddenly not running at capacity in the morning rush? Was it the 5000s? You certainly don't need to build the flyover to bring it to the 3 minute service it used to have up until rather recently.

  • In reply to ibright05:

    Most of it is to to the signal system & changes to the interlocking plant.
    Before the 1977 wreck at Lake & Wabash, most of the CTA ran 'On sight', meaning there were only signals at the interlocking plants, the expressway medians & the subway tunnels.
    The switches were hand thrown & didn't have to line up before a green or clear signal was given.
    Now there's the cab signals, which are far slower, to prevent idiot, stoned motormen from screwing up & the switches also work slower.
    SB Howard trains used to round the turn around the Vautravers building & sit until the NB Ravenswood crossed track 2, but now they have to stop far north of there to wait for signal clearance.
    It slows everything down.
    Add in the decreased capacity of the 5000s & you have a mess.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Scooter, your history is off by about 5 years.

    At the time of the 1977 wreck, cab signals had been installed, and all accounts were that the operator in that crash operated against a red cab signal. What turned out after that was that a red cab signal didn't mean stop, but reset and go up to 15 mph.

    The only real explanation for the lack of frequency was Rich Rodriguez cutting service in 2010.

  • In reply to jack:

    Yeah, I forgot, he was operating under 'Flasher 15', which meant as long as he kept it under 15 MPH, he could avoid tripping a signal.

  • One of the UPRR alignments only required 17 demolitions, the east alignment is the one that required 95 demolitions. While a pilot project for Metra Electric fare integration with CTA, & increased frequency would be much less expensive, it also seems a lot less likely that Metra would make these changes. I wish that CTA would just take over management of the Electric Line, rehab its stations & coordinate with the South Shore Line, maybe that would lead to this asset being used as something more than merely an infrequent commuter shuttle.

  • In reply to ArchiJake:

    Indiana folk and Hegwisch folk dread that concept, as would many decent people stuck in the Wild 100s that use the Metra Blue Island Branch and Kensington stations. Although it probably has a better chance to fly now than in the Vrdolyak era. If you could use that as a basis to re-institute A-B service along the entirety of the Red Line, thats a selling point.

  • In reply to urbanleftbehind:

    I don't see your point, especially the AB one. The AB one would be relevant only to the above discussion of whether the Belmont flyover is necessary.

    This "meeting" was supposed to be an environmental assessment of the alternatives. While lip service is being given to BRT as an alternative, the more apparent alternative, but one already rejected by the political hacks, is better utilization of the ME right of way.

    Apparently, you have picked up on Sen. Kwame Raoul's unconstitutional proposal to have the SS stop at all local ME stops, but that isn't what the others are proposing. If nothing else, it would separate the service on the ME mainline (University Park) from the local services. However, until such time as there is unified planning and operation management in the region, instead of the service boards and consultants feuding with each other, that isn't going to happen, or is this region going to get the federal funding, compared to say, New York,

  • What's the reasoning for not building the extension at grade level south of I-57? Obviously, building an elevated structure is going to cost a heck of a lot more than one at grade level. A portion of the Brown line is at grade level, so it would be unprecedented.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    No one will ever build at grade again.
    It's far too costly in lawsuits from drunks that manage to wander into the ROW & get electrocuted to the inevitable collisions between trains & cars/trucks.
    Also the constant maintenance of the crossing gates. CTA stores spare gates near all the crossings in Skokie, so that when some idiot crashes through them, they don't have to go to the shop to get a new set.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Essentially what Scooter said. Also, when the Ravenswood was built, the territory west of Western had not been platted, and thus the railroad company could get away with it.

    If we assume the Red Line runs every 6 minutes (per the schedule brochure) and both ways, no way can they disrupt traffic every 3 minutes. Then you will get what has frequently happened at Kedzie--some clown, including a police officer, going around the gates and derailing the train.

    The other issue with the UPRR alignments is that the UPRR already occupies the surface, so it would be necessary to condemn another 50 foot strip alongside it, and provide adequate separation between the railroad class trains and the CTA tin cans. UPRR and Amtrak are still using those tracks.

  • In reply to jack:

    OK, I guess that makes sense. I thought I read somewhere that UP would abandon the tracks, but if not, you'd certainly need the extra 50+ feet.

  • To reply to ibill, since the reply button doesn't work:

    As Scooter implied, the union settled that and the apprentices or whatever got the jobs. So the issue is a dead horse. When was the last time you were told to sweep the cars?

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