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$240 million project to remake 95th St. Red Line station

An artist’s rendering proposed 95th Street CTA station.

An artist’s rendering of the proposed 95th Street CTA station.

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Path to Red Line Extension?

By next year, South Side Red Line trains will be traveling on brand new tracks, thanks to a five-month project to rebuild the line from Cermak to 95th.

And by spring 2014, riders using the station at 95th and the Dan Ryan Expy. will see an airy, spacious terminal.

Is the highly anticipated extension of the Red Line farther south next?

“You can’t talk about extending the Red Line from 95th Street south until you have rebuilt the railroad from 95th to 22nd,” CTA Chairman Forrest Claypool said.

“These improvements are not only critical to providing a much better service for our South Side riders, but also will lay a foundation that makes possible the extension.”

The CTA wants to extend the Red Line from the 95th Street station to near 130th Street, but that is subject to the availability of funding. It’s not clear how much money would be needed to complete the extension, but the agency would need capital and operating funds to make it happen.

The proposed 5.3-mile extension would include three new stops near 103rd, 111th and 115th streets, as well as a new terminal station near 130th Street. Each new stop would include bus and parking facilities.

There is no timetable for the extension project. It depends on federal reviews and approvals, and, of course, funding, the CTA said.

Updated: July 25, 2012 6:43AM

Terrible, cramped and decrepit.

That’s how CTA President Forrest Claypool describes the 95th Street Red Line station, one of the agency’s busiest terminals.

But under an ambitious $240 mil­lion plan to upgrade and expand the station, it will morph into a bright, airy and clean space, double in size with a sound barrier to block noise from the adjacent Dan Ryan Expy.

The glass-enclosed terminal will be spacious and filled with light, resembling O’Hare Airport, and its larger platforms will be able to hold more L passengers, according to conceptual designs from the CTA.

And it will have space for retail stores so riders can pick up a newspaper and a coffee for a ride into the city.

It’s not a pipe dream. This work is happening, the agency said, as soon as spring 2014.

Riders depend on it

There’s no doubt the current station has wear and tear: On average, 20,000 South Side and south suburban riders use the station each day.

The terminal is old and dirty. Bus stands are overcrowded. And people entering the station have to squeeze their way through during rush hour.

“If you look at the facility, it is just a terrible facility,” Claypool said. “It’s got safety issues in terms of the pedestrian flow and it’s not comfortable for anyone using that station.”

Claypool called it a “transportation hub” on which many people depend.

Along with daily L passengers, the station serves 13 CTA bus routes, five Pace bus routes, 10 Greyhound and Indian Trail intercity buses and paratransit service. More than 1,000 CTA and Pace bus trips are made to and from the terminal each day.

Roomy, quiet design

Bus and train riders often collide at the station. But the new design will ensure some separation and add clear signs to get riders where they want to go, said Kevin Campbell, deputy program manager from CTA Planning, who helped with the conceptual design, which was done in-house. Next up are environmental studies, and then the CTA will chose a design firm.

“We want to broaden the bus lanes, widen the sidewalks . . . and help customers get to the correct bus by improving sightlines within the terminal,” Campbell said. “If you’re going to the trains or leaving the terminal, you’re going to be able to see where you’re going, much like an airport terminal.”

Train riders will see a welcome sight: 10-car trains on roomier platforms.

“Those larger train platforms would also allow for more capacity,” Claypool said. “That means less crowded trains, more comfortable trains and more reliable and consistent service.”

Where’s the money?

An added bonus: a bumper from the roadway with sound panels for the “aesthetic and visual acoustic comfort of our customers,” Claypool said.

Funding for the project has been figured out. Of a $20 million federal grant announced last week, $12 million will go toward an $80 million low-interest, longterm federal loan.

Gov. Pat Quinn and the state will provide $50 million in capital from the Illinois Jobs Now program; the CTA will take $70 million of federal capital dollars the agency receives in an allotment each year to invest in the project.

The remaining $28 million will come from CTA bond proceeds.

The project will create an estimated 650 construction jobs. The existing station, which opened in 1969, will remain open during the work, the CTA said.

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