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Red Line Extension

Red Line Extension project will soon have an office space in Pullman

REDefine Southside Partners will be the construction manager for this project.

The former Off Track Betting site at 11276 S. Corliss Ave. that the CTA is taking over for the RLE project. Image: Google Maps

this post is sponsored by the Active Transportation Alliance.

Last month the CTA announced that it will be setting up shop in a now-vacant South Side building as part of its planned Red Line Extension project. The structure is located at 11203 S. Corliss Ave. in Pullman.

(That's about block south of where the Chicago Department of Transportation recently removed concrete curb protection from bike lanes on Doty and Woodlawn avenues, roughly between 111th and 100th streets. CDOT stated this was done due to flooding issues, but local bike advocates reported that drainage of the bikeways after rainstorms was a non-issue. Some of them hypothesized that 9th Ward Alderperson Anthony Beale may have asked CDOT to remove to the curbs to make driving on the corridor more convenient for truckers. - Ed.)

The Doty/Woodlawn bike lanes (green line), where concrete curb protection was recently removed, and the site of the upcoming RLE office and construction equipment area (red truck icon). Image: Google Maps

The 20,000-square-foot building was previously an Off Track Betting facility owned by Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives and the Hope Center Foundation of Chicago. According to Chicago Business Journal, the CTA board approved a two-year lease with four one-year extension options that began last Friday, March 1.

"We are pleased to take this important step of opening the first project office for the Red Line Extension project, underscoring our commitment to the communities in the project area and to transit riders," CTA spokesperson Tammy Chase told Streetsblog.

Chicago Business Journal reported the CTA selected the Pullman property because it's large enough to house the necessary equipment for the planned Red Line Extension construction operations. Unsurprisingly, the former OTB building itself needs some work before the CTA and its contractors will be able to use it. Chase told Streetsblog the plan is to move in later this year.

REDefine Southside Partners is the construction manager for the RLE project. This company is a joint venture between Patrick Engineering Inc., WSP USA Inc., and Infrastructure Engineering Inc. RSP will manage the the day-to-day planning and construction activities by the project’s contractor, which will be determined later this year.

"The Red Line Extension project will be one of the most critical and transformative equity investments in CTA’s history," Chase said. "This extension is anticipated to save commuters up to 30 minutes for those traveling from 130th to the Chicago Loop, and provide better connections to multiple CTA rail lines and bus routes." 

"For residents, the new 5.6-mile extension with four new Red Line stations will reduce the number of transit transfers customers today have to make," Chase added. "It will provide more direct transit routes between downtown and the Far South Side’s historic neighborhoods, fine arts, schools and parks. And, the project is expected to generate a 47 percent increase in newly accessible jobs within a one-hour commute of the RLE project area."

The planned Red Line Extension route and station locations.

Active Transportation Alliance spokesperson Ted Villaire told Streetsblog that after city officials promised Far South Siders for decades that the Red Line would be extended to their communities, it’s "thrilling" that the plan is finally moving forward.

"Extending CTA’s 'L' system to the Far South Side will improve residents’ access to education, employment, healthcare, and other crucial services," said Villaire. "The Red Line Extension will also attract construction jobs and future development along the proposed corridor."

"Communities across the city have long benefited from access to transit and, as a result, greater economic opportunities," Villaire added. "Roseland, Altgeld Gardens, Pullman, and the other communities adjoining the extension deserve the same type of development and transit access. Continued robust community engagement with Far South Side residents will be vital to ensure that the project results in equitable development and economic opportunities for generations to come."

The Red Line Extension will be the first new rail line extension built by the CTA since the Orange Line, which opened in 1993. The $3.5 billion RLE is slated to be funded by federal grants, as well as a new Chicago transit tax-increment financing district which is projected to raise $959 million for the project.

"Reversing decades of disinvestment starts with providing accessible transportation for all residents of this city," stated Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson when $1.973 in likely federal grant money was announced last September. "Today’s announcement serves as an important milestone for this project as we move to enhance capillary connections to create a more connected and accessible Chicago."

The project is currently in its "Engineering" phase, which involves figuring out all the design and engineering needs before work can begin on the four new stations. The "Construction" phase isn’t scheduled to start until next year, and it's slated to last until last until 2029. The CTA estimates that it will bring over 25,000 jobs to Cook County in the future.

"Today is a great day for the South Side of Chicago," said embattled CTA President Dorval Carter Jr. in a statement back when the probable federal funding was announced last fall. "The Far South Side has been promised for 50 years that the Red Line would be extended to the city’s southern border, and today we can say that promise is significantly closer to being met." 

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