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South Branch of Red Line to Close for 5 Months

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The CTA is taking the radical but financially necessary step of closing down the southern portion of the Red Line for five months, starting in the spring of 2013. From Cermak Road to 95th Street, about ten miles of track will be completely rebuilt at a cost of $425 million. "Basically, everything within the rail right-of-way will be replaced— the tracks, the third rail, the rail ties, the ballast and drainage systems," said CTA spokesman Brian Steele. The stretch of track, built in 1969, has fallen into such disrepair that slow-zones cover almost half its length. CTA officials considered doing the work on weekends. But at that pace, it would taken four years to complete the project. Plus, the cash-strapped agency stands to save around $75 million by doing it all once, money that will be directed, in part, to station improvements on the south side. To help ease the massive headache this will cause to commuters, the CTA will provide shuttle buses and operate Red Line trains on portions of the Green Line tracks. [Sun-Times]