New Red Line ride to Cell a breeze

CHICAGO -- The CTA Red Line's path to U.S. Cellular Field has changed, but changes seemed minimal Monday, with a few pleasant surprises.

It was the first Chicago White Sox game day that Red Line trains were rerouted along the Green Line tracks because of a five-month renovation to the line that will cost more than $400 million.

The White Sox do not expect the Red Line construction project to make a major impact.

“Just under 20 percent of our fans utilize the Red Line to get to our games,” White Sox spokesperson Scott Reifert said this spring. “They are very sophisticated users of mass transit and the CTA has already done a great job of educating riders.”

Changes heading north are drastic, as the Red Line now starts in the South Side at Ashland and 63rd St. But heading south from downtown and the North Side there was only a slight difference.

After the Roosevelt underground stop, the Red Line then follows the Green Line tracks to the 35th/Bronzeville IIT stop, which is just east of U.S. Cellular Field.

Instead of a four-minute walk from the old Red Line stop to U.S. Cellular Field’s Gate 4, it is now an 11-minute walk from 35th and State St.

Helping to make up the time difference is the fact that there is one less stop between Roosevelt and the new ballpark stop. Where the old Red Line tracks had a Chinatown stop, the Green Line route proceeds directly to 35th/Bronzeville IIT. Riders simply stay on the Red Line. There is no need to switch to Green Line trains.

The entire ride from the Howard station on the north tip of Chicago to the new 35th St. stop takes just under an hour, similar to what it took before the change.

The new stop also provides dining options that train commuters might have overlooked in the past. The walk from 35th and State St. takes fans past a Starbucks, Jimmy John’s, Mother Butters and Miller Pizza Co.

There aren’t any new signs directing White Sox fans to the ballpark, but by exiting at the south end of the 35th/Bronzeville IIT station, U.S. Cellular Field is easily visible to the west.