As the Red Line South Branch reconstruction project approaches, South Side commuters to have to find alternative routes, and local businesses are preparing for a potential loss in customers until the renovations are completed in October.
The renovations, which start May 19th, will cover a total of 9 stops, Chinatown through 95th/DanRyan. With the University of Chicago located near the Garfield stop of the Red Line, it is not only local workers that will be affected by the change, but also the 17,000 college students and faculty that attend the campus.
Yadav Gowda, a University of Chicago undergraduate student, lives Hyde Park and doesn’t need to commute to the campus but uses the Red Line often to get into the city.
He said he will be inconvenienced by the closing every time he wants to head North. “I think a lot of people are annoyed by it, but then again it isn’t like we use it every day,” said Gowda of the many students who live on campus.
While students like Gowda do not need to use the Red Line daily, when they do there are consistent delays, which is one of the problems the CTA is looking to amend with the renovations.
“I think it has been long overdue,” he said. “Every time I go on the Red Line there is always a delay of 10 to 15 minutes due to track problems, sometimes even more, so I think it is a good thing that they are doing it. I just wish it wouldn’t mess with so many people’s commutes during the day.”
Todd Teifer, a University of Chicago faculty member, commutes from the Sheridan Red Line stop to the Garfield stop to get to the campus. Teifer approved of the five-month closing if it will make his commute in the future easier and more convenient.
Originally the CTA proposed a possible shutdown of the Red Line for four years solely on the weekends versus the five month permanent closure. The decision of the later choice has received mixed opinions from the public.
“I could take two busses down instead,” Teifer said. “Getting to the University of Chicago there are express buses, so I say get the renovations over with.”
Many local businesses in addition to university commuters will be heavily affected by the loss of commuter traffic when the Red Line is closed.
Joyce Mitchell, a Morgan Park resident who works at Garfield and Dan Ryan Currency near the Garfield stop, is concerned about a drastic loss in business during some of their heaviest months of business and would rather the CTA close for four years on the weekends.
“If it is from May to October then we are losing business at that time,” Mitchell said. “If it is just the weekends, that is less business at that time any way.”
Mitchell also added that Garfield and Dan Ryan Currency has yet to create a plan to counteract the imminent loss in business due to a lack of information on the renovations by the CTA.
Not only are the renovations a concern for business, but also an inconvenience for her daily commute.
“I work early in the morning so I am going to have to get up even earlier. We are talking getting up at 4 o’clock to be at work at 7,” Mitchell said.
While the CTA will be providing shuttle busses as an alternative to the Red line, crowdedness and the summer heat is also going to be a problem says Mitchell.
Local security guard Erica Green commutes 30 minutes to work every day and currently experiences regular delays of 10 to 15 minutes on the Red Line.
Despite these daily delays she thinks that the CTA should close the Red Line only on the weekends in order to keep commuters from having to find alternate routes.
“I will have to take the Green line, but it’s an inconvenience and will take and extra 30 minutes,” Green said.