After riding the train to the Garfield station, Senator Dick Durbin and Gov. Pat Quinn tour the new facility which was completed on time and budget Thursday morning 10-17-13. Kevin Tanaka/For Sun-Times Media ORG XMIT: CST1310171246420475
Updated: November 19, 2013 6:33AM
The refurbished CTA Red Line south of the Loop reopens Sunday, promising a faster and smoother trip for the 80,000 people who ride that stretch of the L every weekday.
Shut down for five months while it was completely rebuilt, the new track will cut the commute time between 95th Street and downtown by 10 minutes, the CTA says.
Prior to construction, more than 45 percent of the tracks on the south leg of the L’s Red Line were in such bad shape that trains could go only 15 to 35 miles an hour. The 15 mph leg was 21/2 times longer than riders had to endure on any other branch.
The nine Red Line stations reopening Sunday — from the 95th Street terminal to Cermak-Chinatown — were closed since May 19 for the massive project, one that CTA president Forrest Claypool described as “unlike any other the CTA had done before. Never in the past have we, or any other railroad, closed 10 miles of a busy rail line, the busiest, completely, and rebuild it in just five months.”
“It’s a lot smoother,” CTA rail instructor Rodney Lawson said while operating on the new Red Line during a preview.
Among other improvements: Stations that didn’t have elevators to serve disabled riders — Garfield, 63rd and 87th stations — now have them.