Red Line rehab includes 3 elevators, prep work for new 95th St. station
By ROSALIND ROSSI Transportation Reporter email@example.com May 9, 2013 8:34PM
Updated: June 11, 2013 4:37PM
Upcoming Red Line South reconstruction may bring riders five months of angst, but it also will yield physical improvements to the line’s elevated stations that will last far longer.
Top among them is laying the groundwork to replace the 95th Street station at the south end of the Red Line with a $240 million new station, officials said Thursday.
“This will be a brand-new station, not just a patch,’’ said Ald. Howard Brookins Jr. (21st). “I see it as a positive. I think that station has been neglected for too long.’’
Reconstruction of the Red Line tracks starts May 19, forcing the shutdown of nine stations from Cermak to 95th.
By the time the project is completed in October, riders should see more than just smoother, faster rides.
Eight stations will be spruced up and painted. The Garfield Red Line station will have a new area for communications equipment. And three stations — Garfield, 63rd and 87th — will finally have elevators, a boon to an area of the city with a large disabled population, supporters say.
Elevators “are a real plus,” said John Paul Jones, president of the Sustainable Englewood Initiative. “We are finally going to get the necessary bells and whistles.’’
Once track work ends, the focus will intensify on plans to build a new 95th Street station.
The southernmost station on the Red Line now serves only 12,500 L riders a day and is a busy bus terminus. More than 1,000 CTA and Pace riders are dropped off each weekday at the east and west entrances to the station.
The station is “chaotic,’’ CTA spokesman Brian Steele said. “You have 18 or 19 bus routes that feed into it. . . . The station is just not capable of handling the current volume of traffic.’’
Renderings of the new 95th Street station are “conceptual,” but the CTA hopes to start construction next year, officials say. The new station could include more retail outlets than the Dunkin Donuts and convenience store at the existing station; provide better access to businesses on either side of it, and even become a catalyst for new businesses in the area, supporters say.
The new 95th Street Station would be a critical link in plans to extend the Red Line all the way to 130th Street — an idea Mayor Rahm Emanuel supports.
“You have to have the infrastructure to consider an extension to 130th,’’ Steele said. “You have to make an investment in the foundation of what’s there before you can add onto it.’’