Boost for Orange Line Riders


By Jon Hilkevitch

Date of Publication: February 18, 1999
Source: Chicago Tribune


The Chicago Transit Authority said Wednesday that it will add about 600 parking spaces near two rail stations on the Orange/Midway Airport Line--and run longer trains--to make it easier for Southwest Side and nearby suburban motorists to ride the "L" during the reconstruction of the Stevenson Expressway, which begins Monday.

Places for about 200 autos, at a charge of $1.75 per day, will be available beginning Monday at a lot at the southeast corner of Marquette Road and Cicero Avenue. Extra buses on the No. 54B/South Cicero route will operate during morning and afternoon rush periods between the lot and the Orange Line terminal at Midway, about a half-mile away at 59th Street and Kilpatrick Avenue. Normal CTA fares will apply: $1.50 for the bus ride and an additional 30 cents to transfer to the train. CTA officials said they plan to have another 200 parking spaces available soon at the site, following grading and lighting improvements at the parcel, which it is leasing for the duration of the two-year, $567 million Stevenson project.

A CTA park-and-ride lot is also planned for 48th Place and Kedzie Avenue, near the Kedzie Orange Line station at 49th. However, the 200-space lot, which the CTA recently purchased for $610,000, will not open until a walkway, accessible to disabled riders, is constructed between the facility and the rail station. CTA officials said the sidewalk improvement would take about 60 days to complete. Parking at the Kedzie lot will cost $1.50 per day.

Orange Line trains are scheduled to operate every 8 to 12 minutes weekdays. The first train leaves the Midway station at 4:35 a.m. and the last trip around the Loop begins at 11:45 p.m. Total trip time from the airport station to downtown generally takes about 30 minutes.

Some commuters who normally drive the Stevenson might benefit by instead riding the Cermak (Douglas) branch of the Blue Line "L." Those trains operate every 15 to 20 minutes weekdays from the 54th/Cermak terminal in Cicero to the Dearborn subway downtown. Service starts at 4:06 a.m. from 54th/Cermak, and the last train leaves Clark/Lake at 1:24 a.m. A CTA parking lot at 54th/Cermak, served by both CTA and Pace buses, accommodates 300 cars.

Beginning Monday, traffic on the Stevenson (I-55) will be reduced to two lanes in each direction, although additional lane closings may occur at night. The inbound exit ramp to Cermak/Chinatown and the outbound Cermak entrance ramp will be closed. Work will continue through November on inbound I-55 east of Pulaski Road to east of the Dan Ryan (I-90/94). Starting in February 2000, the outbound Stevenson will be rebuilt from east of the Ryan to east of the Tri-State Tollway (I-294).

The inbound Damen and Ashland exit ramps and the inbound Damen entrance ramp have been closed through November.