Reporting Kris Habermehl
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CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Transit Authority on Monday night will hold the first in a series of public meetings about a bold plan to rebuild part of the CTA Red Line in a matter of months.
As CBS 2’s Kris Habermehl reports, CTA officials will outline their plans to rebuild the Dan Ryan stretch of the Red Line from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7000 S. South Shore Dr. It is one of several public hearings planned to discuss the upgrade project, which will close the entire Red Line from Cermak-Chinatown all the way to 95th Street for five months next year.
The city announced earlier this month that the south branch of the Red Line will close for five months next spring for the $425 rehabilitation project.
During the closure, commuters will be directed to the Green Line, which parallels the Red Line. Shuttle buses will carry commuters from the 69th, 79th, 87th and 95th/Dan Ryan stations to the Garfield Green Line stop24 hours a day.
Red Line trains will also run on the Green Line tracks between Roosevelt and Ashland/63rd.
CBS 2’s Jim Williams rode the south Red Line on Tuesday to see just how severe the slow zones on the line could be. At one point the train was forced to creep along so slowly, CTA Chief Infrastructure Officer Chris Bushell said a bicyclist could move faster.
He compared CTA slow zones to a street with potholes.
“Except lots of potholes; so many potholes, so many defects in your street, that you can’t even get to your house; or if get to it, you get to it very slowly,” Bushell said.
The tracks are worn out, and the ballast stones that keep the tracks and ties stable are also in bad shape.
The rails have also significantly deteriorated, because they are the same rails installed when the Dan Ryan branch opened in 1969.
Plans are also afoot for major upgrades on the north end of the Red Line, in Uptown, Edgewater and Rogers Park.
The CTA has temporarily closed the Granville stop for renovations. It is one of seven aging stops that will undergo a major overhaul.
The other stations include Jarvis, Morse, Thorndale, Berwyn, Argyle, and Lawrence stops.
And back at the beginning of last year, the CTA announced plans for that modernization, which would affect the Red and Purple lines north of the Addison stop. No specific plan has been approved yet, but two of the blueprints call for closing three of the stations now being renovated – Jarvis, Thorndale and Lawrence.
These plans also call for eliminating the South Boulevard and Foster stops on the Purple Line, and downgrading Purple Line express and Red Line local service by maintaining three or four tracks.
Another plan calls for replacing the Red Line ‘L’ embankment structure with a subway – a move that would also eliminate several stops.