CTA Moves Ahead on Historic Plan to Rebuild and Modernize Red, Purple Lines

April 29, 2015

Agency provides more detail about proposed complete reconstruction of Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn, Bryn Mawr stations as part of Phase 1 of Red and Purple Modernization Project

The CTA is moving forward with its Red and Purple Modernization (RPM), a transformational, multi-phase program to completely rebuild and add passenger capacity to the northern section of the Red Line, as well as the Purple Line north of Belmont.

As part of the federal environmental review process, the CTA today published the first of two federal documents, called Environmental Assessments (EA), that are associated with Phase 1 of RPM. These documents are an important step in the process of informing the public and gathering feedback about this critical project, all of which contributes to the project’s development and allows the CTA to apply for federal funding for RPM.

The first EA is the analysis of the portion of the project that would completely rebuild four stations and more than a mile of track infrastructure at Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr. This modernization project would create brand new state-of-the-art stations with elevators to make them fully accessible to customers, plus new elevated track infrastructure that would increase service reliability and speeds. Improvements also include wider and longer platforms for faster boarding, better lighting and customer security features, more benches and wind screens, real-time information boards and longer canopies. In addition, this project includes replacing old infrastructure with new tracks, support structures, bridges and viaducts for the entire section of the Red Line adjacent to the four stations, approximately between Leland and Ardmore Avenues.

The EA outlines construction plans and impacts related to this project. The CTA anticipates construction for the Lawrence to Bryn Mawr Modernization Project could begin as early as 2017.

While rebuilding the stations and tracks, CTA plans to maintain service along the Red Line. The CTA expects to perform the reconstruction work in two phases, with temporary station closures. At least two stations in the four-station corridor would be open during the construction work.

“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 CTA President Forrest 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.”

RPM is a multi-phase program to completely rebuild and add passenger capacity to the northern section of the Red Line, as well as the Purple Line north of Belmont. Much of the infrastructure for this section of the Red and Purple lines is nearly 100 years old and at the end of its useful lifespan.

RPM will replace old, deteriorating infrastructure and stations along the northern portion of Chicago’s busiest rail line with modern tracks, signals and stations that are fully accessible. The RPM Program will also add much needed capacity to a growing residential corridor, and deliver faster and smoother rides with less crowding and more frequent service.

The CTA in 2014 announced Phase 1 of the RPM project, which included two components: the Lawrence-Bryn Mawr modernization and a proposed bypass to be built north of Belmont station where the Red, Brown and Purple lines meet. This current rail junction built in 1907 constrains CTA from adding train capacity for the future and already results in daily train delays that have a ripple effect on service throughout the CTA rail system. Ridership during the peak of the rush period has grown nearly 40 percent over five years on the Red, Purple and Brown lines serving this corridor.  

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. If nothing is done 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.

A public hearing to collect comments on the EA for the Lawrence to Bryn Mawr project only will be held on Thursday, May 14, 2015 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Broadway Armory (5917 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL 60660). The EA for the Red-Purple Bypass will be released later this spring, and a separate public hearing will be held.

In addition to the public hearing, written comments will be accepted for the next 30 days, through May 29, 2015. Comments may be submitted via U.S. mail (Chicago Transit Authority, Strategic Planning, 10th Floor, Attn: Lawrence to Bryn Mawr Modernization Project, 567 W. Lake Street, Chicago, Il 60661) or email (LawrenceToBrynMawr@transitchicago.com). 

A copy of the EA is available on the CTA website (transitchicago.com/RPMProject), at CTA headquarters (567 W. Lake Street, 2nd Floor, Chicago), as well as at the 46th Ward (4544 N. Broadway, Chicago) and 48th Ward (5533 N. Broadway, Chicago) aldermanic offices. Hard copies of the EA are available at the following libraries through May 29:

  • Bezazian Library, 1226 W. Ainslie Street, Chicago
  • Uptown Library, 929 W. Buena Avenue, Chicago
  • Edgewater Library, 6000 N. Broadway, Chicago
  • Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State Street, Chicago


The official notice of availability for the Lawrence to Bryn Mawr Modernization Project can be found at transitchicago.com.

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