Officials say the full closure of several Red Line stations will expedite the work. Charlie Wojciechowski explains.
The Dan Ryan branch of the CTA Red Line will completely close for five months next year from Cermak-Chinatown to 95th Street, transit officials said Monday.
The CTA said the nine station closures will begin in spring 2013 as part of the Red Line South Track Renewal Project. The agency will offer bus shuttles while the rail stations are closed.
"We realize this will have an impact on our customers," said CTA Chairman Terry Peterson who called the $425 million project an investment in Chicago's South Side communities.
Peterson said the Red Line has exceeded its expected lifespan and 40 percent of the 10-mile span is considered a "slow zone." Repairs are expected to reduce commute times by 20 minutes.
The CTA decided to close the entire Dan Ryan section to shorten the length of construction time from four years on weekends to five months in total. Peterson said $75 million will be saved by using this method.
During construction, free shuttle buses will be offered from 69th, 79th, 87th and 95th/Dan Ryan Red Line stations to the Garfield station on the Green Line. Entry to the Green Line Garfield station will be free and riders will get 50-cent discounted bus rides on many South Side routes.
It's not clear exactly when the stations will close or how many buses are needed to shuttle commuters to and from their home stations.
An average of 50,000 riders use the south branch of the Red Line each day, according to the CTA. If the improvements aren't made, the percentage of slow zones on the branch would rise in the next year.
The announcement comes on a day when the American Public Transportation Association said ridership on the CTA jumped by more than five percent in the first quarter of 2012 as compared to last year.