CHICAGO — After a five-month, $425 million renovation, a busy stretch of a Chicago Transit Authority train line reopened Sunday. The newly-constructed Red Line South, which extends from the end of the line to the South Loop and includes stops in Chinatown and near U.S Cellular Field and the Illinois Institute of Technology, was closed for repairs in May. The railroad was rebuilt and eight stations along the rail line got upgrades. CTA officials said passengers should now experience a better and faster commute, with roundtrip journeys between 95th Street and downtown up to 20 minutes faster.
“It is definitely a faster, smoother better ride, just as we promised,” said CTA spokesman Steve Mayberry. Initially, the project on the city’s South Side frustrated some riders who questioned the authority’s alternate routes. Those who worried about the project also included White Sox fans who were concerned about direct transportation to U.S. Cellular Field during the season. City transportation officials rerouted baseball fans to a nearby train line or to Metra commuter trains that are a few blocks further from the field than the Red Line. Commuters took buses or rode other trains.
Some of the first passengers to ride the newly-repaired line Sunday morning said they could already tell the difference.
Jaleel Sanchez, 22, has been riding the Red Line for four years. The chemistry student at Chicago State University said the improvements made a “nicer ride.”
“It definitely felt smoother. Maybe not faster, but a lot smoother,” Sanchez told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn have said it’s one of the largest transit projects in the country, and that it was completed on time and within budget. They also say the project created 1,500 jobs.