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CTA Is Seeing Red & Purple For Massive Rehab Project

By Selena Fragassi in News on Apr 29, 2015 5:00PM

The first train at the newly rehabbed Jarvis Red Line station, December 2012. (Photo credit: Brad Perkins)

It’s train-ing day for two lines of the CTA. Today the transportation authority announced that they plan to move full steam ahead with the
Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) project that aims to rebuild and add more passenger capacity to the northern part of the popular train lines. The multi-phase work could begin as early as 2017 though no projected completion date has been announced.

Specifically targeted in the plan would be reconstructing the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr stations and rehabbing more than a mile of track infrastructure in the Red Line and Purple Line zone north of Belmont. An additional proposal includes building a bypass north of the Belmont station where the Red, Brown and Purple lines meet.

As part of the project, new stations would be equipped with accessible elevators, wider and longer platforms, improved lighting and other security features, as well as added benches and real-time information screens. The track reconstruction would replace the old infrastructure with new tracks, support structures, bridges and viaducts for the entire section of the Red Line adjacent to the four stations and is needed to increase reliability speed and ensure faster, smoother rides with less crowding.

The CTA pointed out the following in a press release regarding the project:

"According to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, 185,000 new residents are projected to move into Red and Brown Line service areas by 2040. To meet future demand, the CTA needs to increase service in this corridor to serve more riders during rush periods, yet with current infrastructure constraints it has reached capacity,” said a press release about the project that further notes that rush hour ridership has grown nearly 40 percent over five years. “If nothing is done, the CTA will be unable to add more trains to accommodate more riders, and trains will become more crowded and passengers will wait longer, with long-term quality of life impacts on Chicago.”

As it is the rails on these two service lines are 100 years old and “at the end of its useful lifespan,” according to the CTA. Soon-to-be outgoing CTA President Forrest Claypool also looped the project into the process of fulfilling Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s vision for a world-class transit system (it should be noted Claypool was just announced as Emanuel’s incoming chief of staff).

“This transformational, once-in-a-generation project will bring critical infrastructure and station improvements to the Red Line, which is Chicago’s backbone and our busiest line, and allow us to increase train service as ridership continues to grow,” said Claypool. “As part of Mayor Emanuel’s vision to create a world-class transit system, the Red and Purple Modernization Program will lead to tangible benefits for the entire region, with faster and more reliable service for generations to come.”

The CTA says that it plans to maintain service schedules during construction, though it does anticipate there will be temporary station closures. The Lawrence and Berwyn stations would be closed first for 18 months and the second phase would additionally restrict the Bryn Mawr station to southbound boarding only for up to two years, according to the Tribune that also says a temporary platform will be open at Foster and Winona during the second phase of work.

For now, the project is in the hands of the public. The CTA released its first Environmental Assessment report (EA) today (accessible here) that informs people of the proposal and seeks community feedback—an important step if the CTA wants to receive federal funding. Projected costs could mount $1.9 billion and so far the CTA has acquired $50 million in federal, state and local funds according to the Tribune.

A public hearing on Phase 1 will be held on Thursday, May 14 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Broadway Armory (5917 N. Broadway). The EA for Phase 2 will be released later this spring and a separate public hearing will be held at that time. Written comments will also be accepted through May 29 and can be submitted by snail mail to:

Chicago Transit Authority
Strategic Planning, 10th Floor
Attn: Lawrence to Bryn Mawr Modernization Project
567 W. Lake Street
Chicago, Il 60661

Or by e-mail at