CTA’s Red Line South Project Creates 1,500 jobs

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More than 500 permanent jobs include bus operators, traffic control aides

CHICAGO, IL – The Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) Red Line South Reconstruction Project created more than 1,500 jobs— including 500 good-paying, permanent positions providing local jobs to Chicagoans.

The historic project, which was completed last weekend, rebuilt the 10.2-mile stretch between Cermak-Chinatown and 95th Street and upgraded eight stations along the rail line. The $425 million project was one of the largest projects in the CTA’s history and represents a significant investment in both the ongoing modernization of Chicago’s transit system and in the city’s South Side communities that are served by the CTA’s busiest rail line.

The permanent jobs created by the Red Line South project include more than 400 bus operators, who drove the free South Side shuttles that were part of the project’s major alternative service plan during the construction. Those bus operators will remain with the CTA, filling vacancies from retirements and attrition. Additionally, some painters and electricians who were hired as part of the project’s Workforce Investment Act (WIA) outreach, will continue with two project subcontractors—Vision Painting and Decorating Services and Aldridge Electric, respectively. WIA is a federal program designed to provide opportunities to individuals who qualify as displaced, out of work, or otherwise economically disadvantaged.

Additional permanent jobs include nearly 100 traffic control aides by the City’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

The project also created about 1,000 jobs in a variety of construction trades involved in the railroad reconstruction, including carpenters, electricians, ironworkers, laborers and operators. Of those, about 130 people were hired in conjunction with WIA. Those jobs alone generated about $3 million in wages and benefits.

“This project provided the CTA with the unique opportunity to bring a brand new railroad to the South Side, while providing a major investment in the South Side through job creation and long-term economic benefits for the communities and businesses along the Red Line South corridor,” said CTA Board Chairman Terry Peterson.

To promote contracting opportunities, the CTA worked closely with its two general contractors, Kiewit Construction Corp. and F. H. Paschen, S. N. Nielsen, LLC, to ensure strong participation from Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) contractors. To encourage participation, the CTA held seven meet-and-greet sessions that paired DBE subcontractors with larger prime contractors to help build connections for this and future CTA projects.

The result of those efforts included 29 percent DBE participation in track work and 40 percent in station upgrade work. Approximately $56.4 million in construction work was awarded to African-American firms and contractors.

Originally opened in 1969, the Red Line South was reconstructed from the ground up in just five months, including replacement of all the ties, rail, third rail, ballast (the stone material that holds the ties in place) and drainage systems. The improvements reduced round-trip commutes between 95th Street and downtown by as much as 20 minutes — while providing a smoother, more comfortable and more reliable ride.

The CTA was the first U.S. transit agency to completely reconstruct such a large stretch of railroad in such a tightly condensed period of time, a strategic plan that provided customers much more quickly with a better railroad and did so less expensively.
Condensing the work into five months saved $75 million over an alternative option to perform work on weekends only, over a period of four years. The savings paid for numerous station improvements to eight stations along the branch, which included adding elevators to three stations to make the Red Line South fully accessible to customers with disabilities.

The Red Line South project is part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Building a New Chicago infrastructure renewal program. Funding for the work came from Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! program and is part of more than $1 billion in federal, state and local funding announced in late 2011 by Mayor Emanuel and Governor Quinn for the Red and Purple lines.

Next year, the CTA will begin construction of a new 95th Street Terminal, a $240 million project that will expand and upgrade the 95th/Dan Ryan station, connecting Far South Side communities to job centers throughout the region and serving as a transit gateway for the South Side and suburbs.

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