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CTA Officially Announces Red Line South Extension, Red/Purple Line Renovation

By Chuck Sudo in News on Apr 17, 2014 6:00PM

Chicago Transit Authority formally released details of its planned renovations of the Purple Line and Red Line north branch and the long planned extension of the Red Line’s south branch Thursday and let’s just say we’re cautiously optimistic that maybe CTA has done some solid planning.

We already know the first phase of the project, set to begin in 2017, will involve rehabbing the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr Red Line stations and replacing tracks for the Red and Purple Lines at those stations to reduce slow zones. CTA has started the process of securing federal funding to extend the Red Line from its current southern endpoint at 95th Street to 130th Street, using existing freight rail tracks. That project would cost $2.3 billion.

The aspect of the Red/Purple Line rehab we’re most impressed by is a “Belmont bypass” allowing the Brown Line to continue along its route by riding above the existing Red and Purple Line rails. Currently the Brown Line has to negotiate its route by crossing those rails, resulting in 40 percent of weekday trains being delayed by up to three minutes.

In order for the bypass to be built CTA will have to buy 16 buildings between Belmont Avenue and Addison Street in order to make room for the project. The total cost of the Belmont bypass is included in the $1.7 billion cost the first phase of Red and Purple Line rehab is expected to cost.

CTA has been busy with infrastructure improvements lately. They rebuilt the Red Line’s south branch last year at a cost of $425 million, spent $86 million renovating and rehabbing seven stations on the Red Line north branch two years ago, and work will begin later this year on extensive renovations to the 95th Street and Wilson Red Line stations. “With both the Red and Purple Modernization and Red Line Extension projects, we’ll replace outdated infrastructure with a modern, efficient rail, and build more than five miles of new track,” CTA President Forrest Claypool said. “Together these improvements will offer CTA customers faster, more reliable service, and increasing access to quality rail transportation for thousands of future riders.”