By Jon Hilkevitch
7:16 AM CDT, April 5, 2013
With a five-month shutdown of the Red Line’s south branch set to begin in mid-May, the CTA is scrambling to complete almost $20 million in track and station improvements on the southern Green Line, which will be counted on to serve thousands of additional riders daily, officials said Thursday.
Red Line trains that normally operate on the median of the Dan Ryan Expressway between Cermak-Chinatown and the 95th Street Red Line terminal will be detoured to the Green Line South Side elevated tracks May 19 through about Oct. 19 during the $425 million Red Line track-replacement project, officials said.
Red Line trains will run on the elevated Green Line tracks between the Ashland/63rd and Roosevelt stations, the CTA has said.
As a result, ridership on the southern Green Line branch is expected to grow from about 11,500 riders a day currently to more than 50,000 riders daily over the five-month project, the CTA said.
Free shuttle buses will transport CTA commuters from the four Red Line stations south of 63rd Street — at 69th, 79th, 87th and 95th streets — to the Garfield Green Line station, officials said.
A temporary bus-staging area is being created at Garfield to accommodate the thousands of additional passengers expected to ride the free shuttle buses from the Red Line stations, officials said. Better lighting and more security cameras are also being installed to improve safety.
Temporary expansion and improvements are also being made to the Ashland/63rd station on the Green Line, officials said. The upgrades include overhauls to the escalator and elevator and new stairs.
Rail service will be increased along the Green Line on both the Cottage Grove and Ashland/63rd branches, officials said. With it, CTA Train Tracker signs will be installed at all Green Line stations south of Roosevelt, officials said. Train Tracker provides information about when the next trains will arrive at stations.
Track and signal work also is being performed beginning south of Roosevelt along the Green Line to reduce slow zones that could otherwise significantly lengthen travel times during the five months that more trains are operating, officials said.
The work includes replacing rail ties and tracks and upgrading signal and switching equipment, officials said.
Temporary shutdowns of the Halsted and Ashland/63rd stations on the Englewood branch of the Green Line will continue this weekend and over the following two weekends because of track work. Free shuttle buses will operate during regular Green Line hours linking the Ashland/63rd, Halsted and Garfield stations to the Red Line Garfield station, officials said.
The weekend shutdowns run from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. Friday to Monday, April 12 to 15 and April 19 to 22, the CTA said.
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