Cermak Junction
Federal Junction

Cermak Junction: Wentworth Avenue and Archer Avenue,
Near South Side

Federal Junction: Federal Street and 18th Street, Near South Side

Service Notes:


Red Line: Howard

Orange Line: Midway

Quick Facts:

Established: 1993
Other Names: Grand Junction
Rebuilt: n/a
Status: In Use


The tracks on which Cermak and Federal junctions would eventually be constructed were originally the Dan Ryan Line, as opened in 1969 between Cermak-Chinatown station and 17th Junction, the connection between the Dan Ryan Line and the South Side Elevated.

In November 1985, officials from the City of Chicago and the CTA broke ground on the project to unite the Howard and Dan Ryan lines via a new subway connection, creating a new through-routing that is today known as the Red Line. The project, which was budgeted at $142 million in '85, included a cut-and-cover subway connection between the Dan Ryan Line and State Street Subway. Construction of the new tunnel -- which extended from just north of the Cermak-Chinatown station at 18th and Clark to the unused extension tubes built into the State Street Subway in 1943 (intended for the Archer Avenue Subway) just south of Roosevelt station -- took nearly five years. The point at which the new connector subway merges with the Dan Ryan Line was named Cermak Junction. The interlocked junction is controlled by a local panel, located in a tower at the junction. On January 25, 1990, the first test train was operated through the new Howard-Dan Ryan connector subway. After another three years, the new connection entered service. The swap of the North-South and West-South routes officially occurred on February 21, 1993.

Around the same time, the Southwest Transit Project (SWTP), known as the Orange Line when it opened, was being constructed to the city's Southwest Side. The new route branched off from the old Dan Ryan elevated tracks along 18th Street, west of 17th Junction, at Federal Street. The original Dan Ryan tracks turned south here, but the new Orange Line branched off here at a location known as Federal Junction and continued southwest to Midway Airport primarily along railroad rights-of-way. The Federal Junction interlocking was placed in service on September 13, 1993, and is controlled by a local panel in a tower located in the apex between the two diverging elevated structures. The Orange Line began service on October 31, 1993.

The trackage from 17th Junction through Federal Junction to Cermak Junction is sometimes referred to collectively as Grand Junction (so called because of its "grand" scale, not for a local street or other namesake). The towers at Cermak and Federal are not normally staffed, since under normal operations trains do not diverge and merge at either location, just run straight through on the Red and Orange lines, respectively. The former Dan Ryan Line trackage between Cermak Junction and Federal Junction is currently only used for equipment moves and for occasional times when the Red Line is run "over the top" (i.e. via the elevated tracks instead of the State Street Subway) between Cermak and Armitage due to either planned construction or maintenance, or due to an emergency.


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