CTA moving forward with plans to extend Red Line south, completes Blue Line upgrades

CHICAGO — Renovations are now complete at five CTA Blue Line stations as part of the CTA’s “Your New Blue” project. The plan to upgrade 14 stations along the Blue Line’s north branch started in 2014 . It promises track work that will cut 10 minutes off a commute from downtown to O’Hare in two years. Officials say that branch of the Blue Line is used by 80,000 people daily, and experienced a 5-year ridership increase of 25% that outpaces the growth of the rail system as a whole.

The city announced Monday morning that renovation work is now done at five stations: Addison, Irving Park, Montrose, Harlem and Cumberland.

In addition to these five stations, the Damen, Western, and California stations have already been upgraded as part of the project. Still to come: upgrades at Jefferson Park, Belmont, Logan Square, Division, Chicago and Grand. Most of the schedules are still pending for that work, but we do know that the Belmont station is set to get a new canopy and will be done in 2018.

The CTA is also moving forward with plans to extend the Red Line south. The Red Line currently ends at 95th street, but the CTA would like to extend it down to 130th to better serve Chicago’s Far South Side. The CTA board has approved $75 million for engineering and environmental impact work on the project.

There are two proposed routes: one running east and one west of the current Union Pacific Railroad tracks. Both would extend the red line just over five miles and include four new stations: 103rd, 111th, Michigan, and 130th. Trains would stay on elevated tracks until 119th, and then transition to street level.

The CTA is taking comments from the public on the extension for the next few days.

Here’s a look at some of the proposed Red Line stations: