Agency announces it will remove embankment wall between Lawrence and Bryn Mawr Red Line stations as part of the RPM project, creating a rare opportunity to introduce new, open space in one of the most highly populated communities in the U.S.
The CTA today announced a major, new enhancement to the transformational $2.1 billion Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) Phase One Project that will create more than one mile of new, open space underneath Red and Purple Line tracks in the Uptown and Edgewater neighborhoods. The new community space will be created between W Lawrence and W Ardmore avenues by removing nearly all of the century-old embankment structure and walls starting later this year.
At the completion of the RPM Phase One Project in 2025, the Uptown and Edgewater neighborhoods will gain new areas that could be developed into parking and community spaces, by removing a physical barrier that has separated the community for more than 100 years.
The embankment wall removal is a significant change and enhancement to the CTA’s historic, ongoing RPM Phase One Project. To begin the conversation of how to develop the space following completion of the project, CTA today announced it will hold community meetings for a block-by-block look at new space that will available with the elimination of the wall.
“This unique opportunity to create safe and accessible public spaces below the Red Line is another example of how CTA helps create destinations and focal points in the communities we serve,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “We look forward to working with the local community to generate ideas for new, viable areas and turning them into useful and appealing community spaces.”
"The Red Purple Modernization Project will be transformative for our community,” said Alderman Harry Osterman, 48th Ward. “Activating the space underneath the tracks is an exciting opportunity for our community to add needed parking and community spaces. I appreciate the CTA’s leadership on this important project."
What could it look like?
The CTA will actively work with the community through soon-to-be announced public meetings to create a vision for future open spaces under CTA tracks.
- CTA will ask for ideas from local residents via public meetings and online surveys.
- Some options could potentially include parking and open-air community spaces.
- CTA plans to install lighting under the new structure to increase safety for residents.
- Any future activation of space would take into consideration the ability of CTA to access its infrastructure for regular inspection and maintenance and other work as needed.
- Future development would be in the form of partnerships with local stakeholders.
- CTA will provide funding to support this community renovation and base programming.
Embankment wall removal
CTA’s contractor, Walsh-Fluor Design Build Team, has already removed some of the existing wall to make room for new, fully accessible Red Line stations and other project elements.
The contractor is expected to begin additional wall removal this year and continue through 2024, working simultaneously with new Red and Purple Line track structure reconstruction now under way.
An embankment wall is shown in the top left photo, with new bridge construction underway above it in December 2022. In the bottom left photo, the embankment wall has already been removed to make way for the new Bryn Mawr Red Line station secondary stationhouse on West Hollywood Avenue.
The CTA made the decision to remove nearly all of the wall, rather than a partial demolition, after determining during RPM work that the 100-year-old embankment wall is more deteriorated than anticipated. Its condition prevents the aesthetic improvements to the walls planned in RPM Phase One from having either the appearance or lifespan that were intended.
By removing the wall now, while construction is already occurring in the community, residents will not undergo wall demolition in the future.
RPM Phase One Lawrence to Bryn Mawr Modernization work: Project status
CTA continues to make significant progress in “Stage A” of the Lawrence to Bryn Mawr portion of RPM. Stage A, which will be completed later in 2023, is rebuilding the northbound Red and Purple line track structures between Lawrence and Bryn Mawr. CTA has completed construction of the new elevated track bridge and is installing new rail and other components in advance of putting the new tracks into service at the completion of Stage A.
Stage B, which is scheduled to begin later this year, will rebuild the southbound Red and Purple Line track structures and build four new, fully accessible Red Line stations at Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr. CTA will provide an updated construction schedule and host town halls to discuss the work and impacts to CTA service this spring.
CTA will hold community meetings in late spring 2023 to discuss how the embankment wall will be removed and how the contractor will approach the work to reduce community impacts. CTA will also invite ideas and questions about future activation of new open areas underneath the new CTA elevated tracks. The meeting dates and details will be announced soon.
Future phases of RPM
CTA is moving forward with “RPM Next Phases,” which will inform the next reconstruction phases of the Red and Purple lines and rail stations between Belmont and Linden in Wilmette. For more information about that work, visit transitchicago.com/rpm/next-phases.
To learn more about this work, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page visit, https://www.transitchicago.com/rpm/faq/. For more information about the CTA’s RPM project, visit transitchicago.com/RPM.