Red Line repaired, normal rush hour expected after truck hits ra - Fox 2 News Headlines

Red Line repaired, normal rush hour expected after truck hits rails: CTA

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Red Line repairs were completed early Monday and the CTA expected normal operations for the morning rush hour after a semitrailer truck on the Dan Ryan Expy. jumped the concrete wall late Sunday and landed on newly repaired tracks, damaging the third rail, spokeswoman Catherine Hosinski said.

The truck hit the wall near the 69th Street station and landed on the southbound tracks. No injuries were reported. All lanes of the Dan Ryan Expy. were open by late Sunday, State Police said.

Sunday was the first day the doors to the nine Red Line stations from 95th to Cermak-Chinatown reopened since May — when the $425 million overhaul began. It was the first complete track replacement since the south branch opened more than 40 years ago.

Before the construction, almost half the Red Line South's tracks carried trains that could travel only 15-35 mph instead of the 55 mph maximum that a straight track can bear.

The new track will cut the commute from 95th street to downtown by 10 minutes and 20 minutes round-trip, the CTA says.

"It definitely felt smoother — maybe not faster, but a lot smoother," said Jaleel Sanchez, a 22-year-old Chatham resident and Chicago State chemistry student who rode the Red Line South on Sunday.

It's unclear how many commuters will return to the Red Line South on Monday, but weekday ridership was about 80,000 a day in the past. Ridership was light Sunday, and the reopening started off smoothly, said CTA spokesman Brian Steele.

Not every rider was pleased, though. Fuller Park resident Marean Byrd said southbound trains were running infrequently.

"It's been frustrating. I got to the [47th Street] station at 4 a.m., but the train didn't get here until 4:50. So now I'm running late to work," the 35-year-old bus driver said. "The ride's smoother. But that didn't help me this morning."

Linda Brown, 52, also of Chatham, welcomed the return of the Red Line South. She was going to visit her sister in the hospital Sunday.

"It was a long time coming, but I think worth the wait," Brown said. "People around here, especially, we need our public transportation."

More than 91 percent of customers used alternate routes during the five-month project, CTA President Forrest Claypool said.

"Our customers gave us five months and looked to us to deliver on a promise to build a brand-new railroad . . . and we kept that promise," he said.

The true test of the Red Line will come Monday, when the bulk of Chicagoans return to work.

That's also when thousands of South Side rail commuters will break a five-month-old habit: using free bus shuttles to usher them between shuttered Red Line stations and the Green Line.

In 154 days, crews reconstructed a 10.2-mile stretch of track from the ground up — including the rails, ties, ballast drainage systems and signaling equipment. Stations also got a face-lift, with a new coat of paint, new signs and a deep cleaning.

Stations that didn't have elevators for the disabled — Garfield, 63rd and 87th — now will. There's an added bonus: riders will be traveling downtown on the new 5000-series trains.

But the work isn't over on the Red Line South: The CTA will begin construction next year on a new 95th Street terminal at a cost of $240 million.

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