A sign at the Harlem Blue Line 'L' station's Circle Avenue entrance alerts riders of the service disruption | Credit: Igor Studenkov/Staff Reporter

Blue Line riders will face delays for the next 2 to 3 months as CTA rebuilds the easternmost section of the line’s Forest Park branch.

The Blue Line section between Illinois Medical District and LaSalle stations will be closed until late August, and about half of that – the section between Illinois Medical District and UIC-Halsted stations – will remain closed until at least early October. CTA is using shuttle buses to fill in the gap, but since, unlike CTA trains, CTA buses are mixed with regular traffic, the overall trip will take longer. The station closure is part of a larger project to make 7 Forest Park branch stations more accessible to people with disabilities, while also improving drainage and replacing the track bed. 

Forest Park branch is the section of the Blue Line between UIC-Halsted station and the Forest Park terminal, mostly running on the Eisenhower Expressway right of way with stations in Forest Park, Oak Park and Chicago’s West Side. “Slow zones” has been a major issue for the branch, which the track bed and drainage improvements will help address.

The Blue Line will operate in two segments, with one section running between Forest Park terminal and Illinois Medical District station, and another section running between Jackson/Dearborn station and the O’Hare terminal. For the first part of the project, CTA is running two free shuttle buses – a rush-hour only express bus that will run between Illinois Medical District and Jackson/Dearborn stations without stopping, and a regular shuttle that will make stops near Racine, UIC-Halsted and Clinton stations’ entrances. 

As an alternative to the shuttles, CTA recommends taking the Pink and Green lines, which largely run parallel to the Forest Park branch. CTA and Pace buses connect all Blue Line stations to their equivalents on both lines, and Pink CTA Line’s Polk station is located within walking distance of Illinois Medical District’s Paulina Avenue entrance. Riders can also take the Union Pacific West Metra Line, which has stops in Oak Park and East Garfield Park, but that service is more expensive and less frequent. 

After August, Clinton and UIC-Halsted stations will reopen, but the Clinton station will close until October. CTA will only run a local shuttle.