CTA Moves Forward with Major Red Line Projects: Red and Purple Modernization Phase One and Red Line Extension

December 12, 2018

Chicago Transit Board approves contract to design and build Red and Purple Modernization Phase One, including four Red Line station reconstructions and all new track structure

CTA to advance Red Line Extension project, which would extend the Red Line to 130th Street, by hiring program manager, critical for further planning and preliminary engineering work

The CTA is taking the next major step in Mayor Emanuel’s transformational Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) Program by selecting a contracting team to design and build the first phase of RPM, a plan to rebuild the century-old rail lines north of Belmont and improve CTA rail service for decades to come.

The CTA today also announced that it is moving forward with another major Red Line project, the Red Line Extension (RLE) plan, which would extend the Red Line south from 95th Street to 130th Street, by hiring a Program Manager to oversee environmental and preliminary engineering work ahead of seeking funding for the project.

Both projects are part of Mayor Emanuel’s visionary Red Ahead program, a series of projects to improve the 22-mile Red Line, the CTA’s busiest line, carrying more than 30 percent of rail riders—more than 75 million riders annually.

“For Chicago to continue to be a world-class city, it has to have world-class transit service to connect residents to jobs, education, culture and above all opportunity,” said Mayor Emanuel. “We’ve seen countless businesses make decision to locate in Chicago because of our attractive transportation network, proof that modernizing CTA rail service is an effective strategy for economic growth and creates a seamless, safe, and reliable transportation system for every neighborhood.”

“The Red Line forms the backbone of the CTA and our City, and our investment in the Red Line will increase access to quality rail transportation for future riders offer CTA and offer customers faster, more reliable service,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “We are committed to bringing modernization to the Red Line corridor, very much like what we accomplished with the new $203 million Wilson station reconstruction last year, and bringing new service and economic opportunity to the Far South Side by extending the Red Line to serve those communities.”

Red and Purple Modernization
The Chicago Transit Board today approved the award of a $1.2 billion contract to The Walsh-Fluor Design Build Team which will engineer, design and build RPM Phase One, following an 18-month comprehensive procurement process. The contracting team will be responsible for building new Red and Purple line track infrastructure, including:

  • Reconstructing the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr Red Line stations into larger, 100 percent accessible stations and track structure totaling six miles that is nearly a century old.
  • Building a rail bypass north of Belmont station that will improve service reliability on the Red, Purple and Brown lines, increasing train speeds, easing overcrowding on rail cars, and providing capacity for projected future growth.
  • Installing a new signal system on 23 track miles between Howard and Belmont that, similar to roadway traffic signals, will improve CTA train flow and increase service reliability.

To find and select a contractor to design and build the project, CTA underwent a two-step procurement process to select the most qualified contractor and best value for CTA. The first step was issuing a Request for Qualifications in 2017 to find contracting teams that had the experience and ability to build a large, complex rail project like RPM Phase One. CTA in December 2017 qualified three contracting teams, including Walsh-Fluor, Chicago Rail Constructors and Kiewit Infrastructure Co., and issued a Draft Request for Proposals, followed by a Final Request for Proposals in April 2018.

Following the rigorous 18-month bid process, CTA determined that the proposal submitted by Walsh-Fluor team – Walsh Construction Co. II LLC and Fluor Enterprises Inc. – provided the best value to CTA, including project savings of more 200 days and $297 million over other proposals. In considering the bids, CTA gave equal consideration to the technical proposals on how the project would be built and proposed cost. The Walsh-Fluor team brings to CTA its local, national and global transit construction experience, including Walsh’s construction of the CTA Wilson Red and Purple Line Station, completed in 2017. Fluor, a global contracting firm, has constructed other major U.S. rail projects, including the $2.1 billion Denver Eagle, and the $2 billion Purple Line (Maryland/D.C. suburbs).

CTA and Walsh-Fluor beginning in 2019 will hold public meetings as design and construction planning begins on this exciting project, and will work closely with local communities and CTA customers on construction impacts to neighborhoods and service.

The $2.1 billion RPM Phase One project was announced in 2014 and is fully funded by federal and local money. Currently CTA is performing advance utility relocation work, which includes removing wires and poles and relocating utility equipment ahead of major construction beginning, expected in the latter half of 2019. CTA is also close to completing property demolition work in the project areas.

Red Line Extension
The Chicago Transit Board also today approved the award of a separate contract of $20.9 million to HNTB Corp. as Program Manager for the Red Line Extension (RLE) – a critical step in project planning. The Program Manager will oversee final environmental review and preliminary engineering work necessary to ultimately seek federal funding for the project. The three-year contract includes seven one-year options to extend the contract, in order to provide consistent support in future phases of the project.

The proposed 5.3-mile extension would include four new stations near 103rd Street, 111th Street, Michigan Avenue and 130th Street. In January 2018, CTA announced a preferred alignment for the RLE that begins the extension at 95th, travels south along the Union Pacific Rail Road tracks from I-57, and then extends southeast from 119th Street to 130th. The RLE project will provide new access to rail service for Far South Side residents, connecting them to affordable housing, jobs, services and educational opportunities.

The next major step in the RLE project will be to produce a final Environmental Impact Study (EIS) that will include further preliminary engineering work and will analyze impacts of the proposed alignment. CTA expects to apply to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for entry into the two-year Project Development Phase for this project, a necessary step to pursue federal funding under the competitive federal “New Starts” program. CTA plans to seek more than $1 billion in federal funds to support the RLE project, estimated to cost $2.3 billion.

Both RPM Phase One and RLE are funded by a mix of federal and local funds.

For more information about the Red and Purple Modernization Phase One project, visit transitchicago.com/rpm. For the Red Line Extension project, visit transitchicago.com/redeis.

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