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CTA Red Line reconstruction has commuters scrambling

Frederick Wesley 50 Roselwho rides Red Line daily his job River North is considering switching Metrduring Red Line's five-month reconstructishutdown.

Frederick Wesley, 50, of Roseland, who rides the Red Line daily to his job in River North, is considering switching to Metra during the Red Line's five-month reconstruction shutdown. | Maudlyne Ihejirika~Sun-Times

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Updated: June 19, 2013 6:12AM



At less than 48 hours and counting, one would think Red Line riders routinely traveling between downtown and all points south would have virtual compasses of alternate routes mapped out.

And most queried Friday at Roosevelt Road — the north start of the Chicago Transportation Authority reconstruction project — had a decent understanding of their options come Sunday.

“Somewhat,” said Frederick Wesley, 50, of Roseland, who takes the Red Line daily to his job as a doorman at a River North condominium. “I know they’ll have the shuttle from 95th Street.”

But few, including Wesley, seemed to have made definitive decisions on their best option for the long term, during the five months the Red Line will shut down from Roosevelt to 95th Street.

“Not yet,” said Wesley. “I’m still trying to decide between Metra and the shuttle to 55th.”

There’s not much time. The ballyhooed $425 million project begins at 2 a.m. Sunday.

“I’m still pissed,” said Earlene Hawkins, of Englewood, who rides the train daily to her job at Willis Tower, then again to Truman Community College in the evening.

“I have the option of the Green Line or Orange Line, but either one takes me way out of my way and turns a two-hour commute to three hours, so I just haven’t decided yet,” Hawkins said.

Tiger Williams, 56, of Beverly, was asked if he was ready for the project announced last June.

“Not really, but I have no choice,” said the youth mentor who takes the Red Line to his job with a nonprofit at locations on the South and West sides. “I thought it was starting in June.”

CTA says repair of the deteriorating system should shave 10 minutes off the typical half-hour ride from 95th to Roosevelt when finished Oct. 19, with a significantly smoother ride.

Kyle Garvin, 25, of Bronzeville, a bicycle delivery man who works downtown, is all for that.

“It’s needed,” said Garvin. “For me, I’ll just bike everywhere, so it won’t be a huge problem.”

But Tisa King, 32, of South Shore, a laid off teacher and freelance writer, foresees a problem.

“This is going to add to the violence, wait and see,” King said. “Have you seen the arguments and fights that break out when the bus is crowded? This will bring crowding we haven’t seen before. There will be a lot of already angry riders and a lot of animosity waiting to ignite.”



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