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Mayor Emanuel, CTA chief check in on CTA’s massive Red Line project

The once bustling 47th Street Red Line statino longer has tracks all platforms consoles are covered with plastic during construction.

The once bustling 47th Street Red Line station no longer has tracks, and all platforms and consoles are covered with plastic during construction. | Tina Sfondeles~Sun-Times

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Updated: August 4, 2013 6:26AM

Likening empty rail tracks full of gravel to an unplowed cornfield, CTA President Forrest Claypool on Tuesday stood with Mayor Rahm Emanuel at the CTA’s Red Line 47th Street station to show off the station’s progress.

“We are literally six weeks down and we have 17 weeks to go in this project, and we will continue to work as hard as we can, as we did on day one to make sure this project continues on time, on schedule and on budget,” Claypool said.

The 47th Street station, built in 1969, is just one of nine stations getting the overhaul in the transit agency’s $425 million Red Line South Reconstruction project.

The station that had customers take more than 1 million rides last year no longer has tracks. The stairs have been rebuilt, and all platforms and consoles are covered in plastic. The only thing that remains is part of an old roof — its decorative design intact — which will also get a facelift.

Claypool said the CTA is monitoring ridership week by week to make “tweaks,” including adding service to bus routes with increased ridership, like the bus routes that run parallel to the Red Line.

Additional service has been added to the No. 3 King Drive, No. 4 Cottage Grove, No. J14 Jeffery Jump and No. 29 State buses, during peak hours. The CTA says it saw noticeable ridership growth after May 19, when the project started, on those routes.

Claypool said the free express shuttle buses ferrying people from shuttered Red Line stops — at 95th, 87th, 79th, and 63rd streets — to the Green Line’s Garfield station — have seen “steady ridership” since the project began.

The CTA has declined to provide ridership information for May, saying the numbers are being finalized.

Before speaking to the media, Mayor Rahm Emanuel briefly spoke with construction workers and leaders before touring the station with Claypool and CTA Chairman Terry Peterson.

Emanuel said he’s pleased the project has created more than 1,000 construction jobs and 400 bus driver positions.

“We are asking a lot of commuters for the next [few] months, as we do this type of real significant change . . . We’re asking a lot of them, but we’re also employing a lot of people,” Emanuel said.

About 95 percent of the old Red Line tracks and 80 percent of the third rail, signals and communications cable have already been removed, according to CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase. Station work has been ongoing since the beginning of the project.

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