Aug. 10--The route of the planned CTA Red Line extension on the Far South Side will run either immediately east or west of a freight railroad right of way, a decision that narrows five alternatives for the estimated $2.3 billion project down to two "desirable options," transit agency officials told the Tribune.
Using the Union Pacific Railroad right of way in some fashion from 99th to about 118th streets had already been the CTA's preferred alternative for the project, which will extend the Dan Ryan branch of the Red Line 5.3 miles, from the 95th Street terminal to 130th Street.
Four new fully accessible stations, all including bus and parking facilities, will be built near 103rd Street, 111th Street, Michigan Avenue and 130th Street, officials have said.
The CTA has not reached agreement with the Union Pacific to use any of its right of way. The transit agency would need to buy about 250 private properties, including about 100 residential parcels, to build the extension, officials have said.
To date, no funding for land acquisition or construction has been secured.
But the winnowing process resulting in the preliminary selection of the two variations near the Union Pacific right of way officially eliminates other routing options that have been studied as part of the federally required environmental review process. Now out of the running are a rail or a bus rapid transit alternative running down the middle of Halsted Street, and a separate rail right of way option along Union Pacific-owned property.
The extension route that the CTA identified five years ago would operate on an elevated structure that heads south from 95th Street along the median of I-57 for nearly one-half mile until reaching a corridor owned by the UP, in the vicinity of Eggleston Avenue.
It would then turn south along the UP corridor to about 111th Street, where it would turn southeast.
East of South Prairie Avenue, the alignment crosses over the Canadian National/Metra tracks near 119th Street, where it transitions to ground level and then continues southeast along the former Michigan Central/Indiana Harbor Belt railroad right of way to terminate near 130th Street.
The alignment would be the same for the two east and west options north of 99th Street and south of 118th Street, officials said.
CTA officials also said that $5 million in bond funds will be used to move forward on the required federal planning process for the extension.
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