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Red and Purple Modernization

Rebuilding vital infrastructure for Chicago’s future

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is undertaking the largest capital improvement project in its history: the Red & Purple Modernization Program. This major initiative will completely rebuild the northern portion of the Red Line from Belmont to Howard station and the Purple Line, which extends to Linden station in Wilmette. The RPM corridor was built close to a century ago—in 1924—when Calvin Coolidge was President and the Wrigley Building had just been constructed.

The Red Line is now Chicago’s busiest ‘L’ line, serving some of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the country, and the number of riders along this corridor is only growing. In the past five years alone, for example, rush hour ridership increased by nearly 40 percent.

RPM is an effort to accommodate current and future ridership needs by comprehensively upgrading tracks and reconstructing stations. RPM will also increase the number of passengers that pass through these stations by expanding the number of trains that can travel on the Red Line—an improvement that will allow CTA to better serve customers for generations to come.

RPM Summary (.pdf) (en español)

Other languages: Spanish, Chinese (simplified, traditional), Vietnamese

What’s New?

On August 7, 2014, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, along with CTA President Forrest Claypool and other elected officials, announced significant new federal funding for projects to modernize the Red Line.

RPM: Phase One

RPM is a massive, multi-stage project that is scheduled to be completed in phases, which allows CTA to make the greatest number of improvements while minimizing impacts on the surrounding community.

Phase One includes two main components:

 Phase One Map Area (Linden thru Belmont)

RPM Belmont Bypass Rendering
Preliminary, conceptual rendering of Red-Purple Bypass

1. Red-Purple Bypass Project: A bypass would be constructed north of the Belmont station to address capacity constraints caused by the currently configuration of the junction where the Red, Purple, and Brown lines all intersect. This intersection, created in 1907, forces trains to stand and wait for other trains to pass. Because of this configuration, the CTA is currently near capacity now in this corridor. Based on the pattern of nearly 40 percent ridership growth during rush periods over a five-year period, we will be at capacity by 2016 and no longer able to add service to relieve train overcrowding without the bypass.
In addition, the project would include replacement of associated Red and Purple line tracks from just north of Belmont station to

the segment of track between Newport and Cornelia Avenues, increasing train speed and improving passenger comfort. 

Rendering showing redone Bryn Mawr station 
Preliminary conceptual rendering of a reconstructed Bryn Mawr station

2. Lawrence to Bryn Mawr Modernization Project: CTA would completely rebuild the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn, and Bryn Mawr stations. These stations would be expanded, modernized, and made fully accessible to customers with disabilities.
Phase One would also rebuild of all tracks, support structures, bridges, and viaducts along the 1.3 miles between these stations, significantly improving train speed and reliability.

Future phases of RPM would bring the same level of infrastructure and station improvements to the Red and Purple lines north of Belmont to Linden station in Wilmette. These improvements are contingent upon funding availability. CTA will continue to update the public as future phases are planned.


Potentially impacted properties
Information about potentially impacted properties (.pdf)
Red-Purple Bypass Project Map of Potentially Displaced Properties (.pdf)
Lawrence to Bryn Mawr Modernization Project Map of Potentially Displaced Properties (.pdf)


Where We Are Now: Environmental Assessments & Preliminary Design/Engineering

In August 2014, CTA became the first transit agency to be awarded federal funding from the new “Core Capacity” Program. CTA was first in line to receive these funds because of the environmental work already underway. Two Environmental Assessments (EAs) are being conducted, one EA for each of the projects within Phase One. The EAs analyze community and environmental impacts in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

With the infusion of “Core Capacity” funds for FY 2014, CTA was able to begin preliminary design/engineering for RPM Phase One. This stage of planning will help CTA develop more details regarding early project concepts and determine what is feasible from a technical standpoint in addition to what’s been asked or suggested by the public during feedback provided during Open House meetings in May 2014.

Preliminary engineering/design will also provide the information needed to advance the project designs to the point where CTA can later begin the process to seek design/build contracts.

Next Steps

CTA will continue conducting environmental analyses and preliminary design/engineering for both projects in 2015. Once the environmental analysis is complete, an Environmental Assessment for each project will be prepared and made available to the public for review, expected in Spring/Summer of 2015. Public meetings will be held at that time to obtain additional public feedback on the benefits and impacts of the proposed Phase One projects.

Timeline: Open houses in Spring 2014, Complete EA in Spring 2015, FTA concurrenct and engineering application in Fall 2015 and Start Construction in 2017


Stay Informed!

If you would like to be added to the RPM contact list for meeting notices and future updates about the RPM Program, please contact:

Chicago Transit Authority
Strategic Planning, 10th Floor
Attn: RPM Program
567 W. Lake Street
Chicago, IL 60661-1465

Or e-mail


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System Status



Red Line Planned Work
Blue Line Planned Work
Brown Line Normal Service
Green Line Normal Service
Orange Line Normal Service
Purple Line Normal Service
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