The Chicago Transit Authority says it will close a major section of its Red Line train route for five months.
The CTA said Monday that it would close nine Red Line stations on the city's South Side starting in spring 2013. The closures would affect the Cermak/Chinatown station south to 95th Street, the end of the train line. The closures are part of a $425 million track replacement project.
Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) is the chairman of the Committee on Transportation & Public Way. He was briefed this morning by CTA president Forrest Claypool and CTA chairman Terry Peterson.
“Initially I had a lot of concerns about how it would be rolled out,” but “we put that to rest,” he said.
CTA officials say the closures will let workers finish the project in five months instead of the four years it would take if closures were done only on the weekends. The CTA says it will offer shuttle service, additional buses and discounted rides.
The CTA said they would hire 200 additional workers and add 100 buses into service to “move people along express routes,” Beale said.
The alderman said no contracts have been let and nothing has gone out for bids yet. "People have ample time to bid on these contracts,” he said.
Beale said it may be "best to shut it down and get it done versus waiting a couple of years."
It was a sentiment shared by his colleague Ald. Howard Brookins Jr. (21st), who was informed about the plan, but was not at the briefing with the CTA. "As far as I'm concerned, closing it for five months is better than closing it every weekend for five years."
"The south Red Line, called the Dan Ryan branch, is more than 40 years old and needs a full replacement. Because of the current track conditions, Red Line riders experience longer travel times, more-crowded trains and less-reliable service," the CTA said on their website.
The Transit Authority's site also said that the project received $1 billion in federal, state and local announced in late 2011 by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Governor Pat Quinn for the Red and Purple Lines.
The CTA said it will offer shuttle buses from 69th, 79th, 87th and 95th/Dan Ryan stations to the Garfield station on the Green Line and free rail entry for shuttle bus riders at Garfield on the Green Line.
The agency said it will also be offering 50-cent discounts on many South Side routes.
—Robin Amer and Elliott Ramos contributed to this report.