Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Gov. Pat Quinn and city and state officials today provided a preview of the new Red Line South—one of the largest and most innovative transit projects in the country and a significant investment in the ongoing modernization of public transportation in Chicago.
The CTA was the first transit agency in the country to completely rip out and replace such a large stretch of railroad in such a tightly condensed period of time and with such an extensive alternative-service plan, a strategy that provided customers with a better railroad in a shorter amount of time, while saving taxpayer money.
The mayor and the governor—joined by CTA Board Chairman Terry Peterson, CTA President Forrest Claypool, and local and state elected officials—announced that the Red Line South between Cermak-Chinatown and 95th Street will reopen on schedule on Sunday, October 20.
The 10.2-mile stretch has been closed for five months to rebuild the railroad and upgrade eight stations along the rail line, which serves dozens of communities along Chicago’s South Side. The $425 million project—which created more than 1,500 jobs, many of which will continue after the project ends—will be completed on time and within budget.
“The reconstruction of the Red Line South is an historic investment in both the Red Line—the backbone of the CTA rail system—as well as the many communities it serves on Chicago’s South Side,” said Emanuel. “This brand-new railroad will provide faster and more comfortable commutes, and is an important step toward creating a 21st century transit experience for commuters.”
“The Red Line South reconstruction was among the largest and most important investments in my Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program,” Quinn said. “This historic project created more than 1,500 jobs and built a new Red Line that is faster, more efficient and easier to use for tens of thousands of people who will ride on it every day.”
Originally opened in 1969, the Red Line South was reconstructed from the ground up, including all the rails, ties, ballast, drainage systems and signaling equipment—improvements that will shave up to 20 minutes off the round-trip commute between 95th Street and downtown, while providing a smoother, more comfortable and more reliable ride.
Elected officials were elated about the completion of the Red Line.
“The rebuilding of the Red Line’s South Branch was a large and ambitious undertaking. As the line reopens, South Siders will see the patience they’ve shown during its construction rewarded by more reliable service, modernized stations, and much quicker trips to downtown and the North Side. I’m glad Chicago continues to prioritize infrastructure projects crucial to the city and its residents,” said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).
And even though two, local congressmen were unable to attend the unveiling they both said the new and improved Red Line would make using public transportation faster and more convenient.
“The completion of the CTA’s Red Line South Reconstruction Project not only allows for faster, more comfortable, and more reliable service for Red Line riders but is vital to the health of Chicago’s economy and environment,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL). “This project and the benefits it brings to our community showcase the importance of investments in sustainable infrastructure we should be prioritizing on a national level.”
U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly agreed.
“I am very pleased with not only the improvements made to the Red Line but also at how quickly the project was completed. The upgrades, such as improving access for the disabled and safety improvements were long overdue and are vital to the long-term safety and expansion of the Red Line,” added Kelly (D-IL). “One of the best improvements made is the increased speed of the Red Line that will trim commute times by as much as 20 minutes. That is a huge benefit for my constituents, who have some of the longest commute times in the region.”