CTA, Walsh-Fluor Design-Build Team Announce Elementary School Student Contest To Name Largest RPM Program Construction Equipment

December 8, 2021

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Walsh-Fluor Design-Build Team, the contractor for CTA’s Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) Phase One Project, today announced a contest for elementary school students to suggest a name for the project’s largest piece of construction equipment– the overhead gantry system that is being used to build the new Red and Purple Line track structure.


Currently located near Ardmore Avenue and the CTA tracks in the Edgewater neighborhood, the gantry is a massive piece of construction equipment that Walsh-Fluor is using to assemble concrete bridge segments for the new Red and Purple Line tracks between Ardmore Avenue and Leland Avenue. The gantry, at 285 feet long, is about the size of a 747 aircraft and is a feat of engineering that allows RPM to build the new Red and Purple Line track structures more quickly and with fewer impacts on the community during construction.

To engage young students and spark their interest in neighborhood construction projects,   Walsh-Fluor and CTA launched today a contest for students in grades 2 through 4 at schools in the project area, including Goudy Elementary, McCutcheon Elementary, Swift Elementary and St. Thomas of Canterbury.

Contest rules and regulations include the following:

  • Each classroom may submit one name and give a short written description or video that explains why they chose their name for the gantry. 
  • The name should have significance to the City of Chicago.
  • Submissions will be due on Feb. 1, 2022. The winning class will be announced on March 1, 2022.
  • The winning class will participate in a dedication event where the launching gantry name will be officially announced to the public.
  • The winning name will be displayed on the gantry for the duration of the bridge segment installation work, which is expected to be completed in 2024.

For more information on the contest and how to participate, visit transitchicago.com/rpm/whatsnew.

Gantry system facts

  • The gantry system used in the Red and Purple Modernization project marks the first time this type of construction approach is being used in the City of Chicago.
  • The gantry is being used to erect the concrete bridge structure for the new Red and Purple Line tracks from Leland Avenue (south of Lawrence station) to Ardmore Ave (north of Bryn Mawr station).
  • The gantry system will lift and assemble precast concrete segments of the bridge structure that will support the new track. The system will install the precast segments for each span, and then launch itself down the bridge structure to continue to erect more bridge spans.
  • The gantry will be in operation for three years, which began September 2021.  

Benefits of gantry system

This approach to building the new track structure was selected by Walsh-Fluor because it minimizes construction impacts to the surrounding communities and CTA customers. This “top-down” erection method reduces the use of traditional cranes that require street closures and slowed transit service.

CTA and Walsh-Fluor also chose the use of precast concrete segments because this approach significantly reduces construction impacts to the community by performing much of the major construction for the new bridge structure at a remote site.

Link to gantry images

RPM Phase One overview

RPM Phase One Project includes three major components:

  • Reconstruction of the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn, and Bryn Mawr Red Line stations into larger, 100 percent accessible stations; and replacement of track structure totaling six track-miles that is a century old.
  • New Red-Purple Bypass construction, completed in November 2021; followed by the reconstruction of Red and Purple Line track structure between Belmont and Newport/Cornelia (expected completion by the end of 2024).
  • Installation of a new signal system on 23 track miles between Howard and Belmont that, similar to roadway traffic signals, will improve train flow and service reliability.

The Red Line and RPM

The CTA’s Red Line is CTA’s busiest rail line, providing more than 67 million rides a year and serving some of the most densely populated neighborhoods in U.S. The RPM Program, which will be done in multiple phases, will rebuild the 9.6-mile stretch of Red and Purple Line track structure and stations on the North Side that are a century old. RPM will replace aging infrastructure; increase CTA’s capacity to increase train service as needed; and improve our service for customers with more reliable, comfortable service. Future phases of RPM have not yet been announced and are currently unfunded. Learn more about RPM online at transitchicago.com/RPM and sign up for project alerts at transitchicago.com/RPMalerts.

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