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CTA’s Massive Red Line Project Right On Track

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The Red Line reconstruction project is at the halfway point. (Credit: Vince Gerasole/CBS)

The Red Line reconstruction project is at the halfway point. (Credit: Vince Gerasole/CBS)

CHICAGO (CBS) — Excuse the pun, but Red Line reconstruction is right on track.

Since May, 80,000 commuters have been watching from re-routed buses as the CTA refurbishes the south branch portion.

CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole got a tour of the project, which is expected to be completed and ready for riders in two months.

About 400 workers have been laying 203,000 linear feet of rail. They’re replacing enough wooden ties to stretch from Chicago to Milwaukee.

“Just a couple weeks ago, this was a clean slate there was nothing on the track bed, just dirt,’’ said CTA spokesman Brian Steele.

The CTA provided the first up-close access to the $425 million project.

Thanks to good weather and no surprises, it’s on budget and set to reopen as planned in October.

The biggest obstacle so far?

“Our biggest and most significant obstacle is taking a look at the timeline and making sure you come in on time,’’ said CTA spokesman Steve Mayberry.

The CTA decided against keeping the line open and limiting construction to weekends. That would have meant the project would have taken years to complete.

Instead, they opted for a full five-month shutdown, closing the line completely between Cermak and 95th Street.

The “fast-track” approach also freed up some $75 million.

That money has been used to spruce up and refurbish nine stations.

Three locations without elevators will now have them, making all stations handicapped accessible.

Some of the workers, who also ride the CTA, are impressed.

“I have been riding the train for 15 years, and this is a big turn around, a big change,” said Edward Zavala.

Mark your calendars, the planned completion date is Oct. 19

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