Tuesday, June 5, 2012

RE: Red Line will be shut down for 5 months in 2013!

Following up on JP's post from yesterday, I believed it was important to excerpt some information about this project. And it seems the article JP had linked to added more information during the course of the day.
The plan features strong aldermanic support of the accelerated work rather than closing the Dan Ryan branch only on weekends until 2016. “I’d rather peel the Band-Aid off than do the same work over an extended period of time,” said Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th). “It’s not going to be pleasant. But I’m glad we got the word out now and ultimately the service is going to be better for riders.”

The Dan Ryan branch, which is dominated by straight-aways that would permit 55 mph top speeds if the track were in good repair, has the highest percentage of slow zones among all eight CTA rail lines. Slow zones would increase to 60 percent next year if the project were delayed, officials said.

New steel rails, ties and ballast will be installed and drainage improvements made between the State Street subway portal, which is north of the Cermak-Chinatown station, and the 95th Street terminal at the end of the Red Line, according to the CTA’s plan.

CTA board chairman Terry Peterson lamented that currently “a cyclist can travel faster than our trains do on that stretch.’’

“It will be a brand new railroad’’ when the work is completed around September 2013, Peterson said. “There is no way you can do a project of this scope and size without impacting service,’’ he said.

During the renovation work, extra alternative transit service will be provided, including free express shuttle buses between the Red Line stations at 69th, 79th, 87th and 95th streets and the Garfield station on the Green Line, where shuttle riders will board trains for free, officials said.

Red Line-like frequent service will operate on the normally less busy Green Line section between Ashland/63rd and Roosevelt, officials said. A doubling of bus service – plus 50-cent fare discounts – will be implemented on many regular CTA bus routes serving the South Side and connecting with the Green Line.
Another wrinkle to this $425 project and I wondered exactly about this when it was announced Monday:
The need for the track reconstruction, which also serves as a precursor for the planned extension of the Red Line from 95th to 130th streets whenever federal funds are made available, prompted other aldermen in addition to Sawyer to line up behind the five-month timetable to cease service.

“I’m not excited about the inconvenience residents are going to have, but I am excited about the all new rails and permanent jobs and 100 additional buses to accommodate commuters,” said Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), chairman of the City Council's Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Stretching out the repairs over four years would “set the Red Line extension back,” Beale said.

The track modernization will help foster economic development and build the case for the estimated $1.4 billion Red Line extension, “but we remain watchful to unwarranted cost over-runs and a disagreeable service delivery plan for South Siders during the five-month shutdown of the Red Line south leg,’’ said John Paul Jones, a community organizer with the non-profit Developing Communities Project.
Even the potential for jobs was noted. The article even mentioned the Englewood Flyover in relation to this coming project:
The promise of hundreds of construction jobs and up to 200 permanent new CTA bus driver jobs to South Side residents will likely generate support for the project, officials said. Peterson vowed that the CTA will hire minority-owned companies for up to 30 percent of the work under the disadvantaged business enterprise program.

The offer of jobs to low-income Chicagoans stands in stark contrast to a Metra project. Metra is embroiled in a dispute with U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush and other African-American congressmen over the commuter railroad’s handling of an upcoming train bridge project in the Englewood neighborhood. The lawmakers say not enough minorities would be working on the $141 million project.
Finally it was noted that this project should see enough savings to install elevators at the Garfield, 63rd, and 87th Street L stops. Also noted was another project on the Dan Ryan branch had been completed in 2006 while it did include some track repair it mainly overhauled signals and part of the power system. BTW, I'm sure I'm not the only who remembers that on some parts of the Dan Ryan branch trains were routed onto the shoulders of the expressway and yet they still have to do this project!

Also I would urge you to read the CTA Press Release to see what service alternatives are being planned for affected Red Line riders. Obviously shutting down train services  briefly will prove to be an inconvenience for many CTA passengers but the alternate services plans hopefully can ease some of the pain!

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