Underground Train

Loop Track Renewal

This project is complete.

Note: This is an archived page from 2013. Work detailed on this page has already occurred.


The Loop Track Renewal project, started in 2012, is one of our biggest construction projects over the last few years. The project involves renewal of track and rail along the Loop ‘L’ and at two of the busiest junctions on the rail system.

Building a New ChicagoThe $33.8 million project will ultimately have replaced more than two miles of elevated rail and track components that were installed in the early 1980s and are nearing the end of their useful life.

The work is part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Building a New Chicago program, which is updating infrastructure that's critical to the city—and includes improvements that will help ensure that CTA continues to serve customers as effectively as possible.

On this page...

Project Scope

The project will replace about 11,500 feet of rail:

  • along the Wells and Van Buren sections of the Loop 'L'
  • the Tower 18 and Tower 12 junctions at Lake/Wells and Wabash/Van Buren, respectively;
  • Hubbard Curve, just north of the Merchandise Mart station
  • a small portion of elevated track along Wabash between Adams and Van Buren

Most elements in the track bed (rail ties, walkways, etc.) will also be replaced.


Project Benefits: Why are we doing this work?

This project work is helping to ensure safe and reliable rail service.

The Loop 'L' is the heart of the CTA rail system, with five of the eight rail lines traveling through it every weekday. Delays encountered here can create a ripple effect across the entire system. By performing this work now, as preventative maintenance, we’re avoiding future issues that would impact the hundreds of thousands of riders who travel through the Loop every week.


CTA Customer Impacts

To lessen the impact on customers and service, most construction work throughout this project has been limited to weekends.

Work in Spring 2013 in conjunction with renewal of the Wells Street Bridge, a major bridge improvement project being undertaken by the Chicago Dept. of Transportation. While trains will operate over the bi-level bridge during most of the bridge project, two nine-day closures of the bridge to ‘L’ traffic are necessary and will have a major impact on both weekend and weekday service, including during weekday rush periods.

When these nine-day closures occur, Loop Track Renewal work will also be performed at the junction at Lake/Wells (known as Tower 18) on weekends when service has already been affected, in order, to minimize the overall impact to our customers and reduce the cost of completing the Loop Track Renewal project.

Specific service impact information will be posted at each affected station a week prior to the start of work. You can also check the 'L' Train Service Alerts page for any current or upcoming service change alerts or the Weekend Service Changes page for a complete summary of service changes scheduled for the upcoming weekend (updated Thursday evening before the weekend). You can also have the Weekend Service Changes sent to your email account every Thursday evening by subscribing to CTA Updates.


Upcoming Reroutes & Schedule

NOTE: The following dates are planned, but are subject to change. While we work to carefully plan and provide advance information as accurately and reliably as possible, changes are sometimes necessary as a result of unforeseeable circumstances (like severe weather).

Reroute Combination 2 – Affects Brown Line and Purple Line Express trains
Two nine-day periods; March 2-11 & April 28-May 6, 2013
No Brown Line trains operate between Merchandise Mart station and Loop ‘L’, reduced rush-hour Brown Line service, no Purple Line Express service: Brown Line service operates between Kimball and Merchandise Mart, only; reduced Brown Line rush service due to railroad capacity limitations, some rush Brown Line trains operate via Red Line (subway) to Roosevelt; shuttle buses and added, regular bus service connect customers between Fullerton, Armitage, North/Clybourn (Red Line), Chicago (Brown/Purple Lines) and Merchandise Mart and the Clark/Lake and Washington/Wells stations in the Loop; Loop Shuttle train operates continuously around Outer Loop (Brown Line side), making all stops for easier transfers and intra-Loop travel.

On weekends and weekday late evenings (after 10 p.m.) during this work, Brown Line service will operate only as far as Chicago (Brown Line) station for work occurring at Hubbard Curve.

See also: Detailed Service Information


Reroute Combination 5 – Affects BrownGreenOrange and Pink Line trains
Weekends #15-17: March 2-3 & 9-10, April 28-29 & May 4-5, 2013
No ‘L’ service through Tower 18 (junction at Wells/Lake): Brown Line service operates between Kimball and Chicago, only; Pink Line service operates between 54th/Cermak and Clinton, only; Green Line service operates in two sections, 1) between Harlem/Lake and Clinton and 2) between Adams/Wabash and 63rd Street terminals; Orange Line service operates between Midway and Washington/Wells only (making return trip via Wells and Van Buren legs of Loop); Shuttle train between Adams/Wabash and Clark/Lake; Shuttle buses between Chicago (Brown Line), Merchandise Mart, Clark/Lake, Washington/Wells and Clinton (Green/Pink Lines) stations.

See also: Detailed Service Information


Important: Be sure to double-check alerts for your route soon before traveling on any weekend through the completion of this project to be certain of what work might affect your trip, as well as additional details.


Previous Reroutes

The following reroute combinations were implemented over weekends in 2012:

Reroute Combination 1 – Affects BrownPink and Orange Line trains
Weekends #1-8, 13-14 (completed in 2012): Wells and Van Buren sides of Loop ‘L’ closed: Brown and Orange Lines through-routed, Pink Line service operates between 54th/Cermak and Roosevelt, all trains operate on Lake and Wabash sides of Loop.

Reroute Combination 3 – Affects BrownGreenOrange and Pink Line trains
Weekends #9, 10, 12 (completed in 2012): Lake and Wabash sides of Loop ‘L’ closed: Brown and Orange Lines through-routed, Pink Line from 54th/Cermak to Roosevelt, and all lines operate on Wells and Van Buren sides of loop.

Reroute Combination 4 – Affects Orange and Green Line trains
Weekend #11 (completed in 2012): No ‘L’ service between Tower 12 (junction at Wabash/Van Buren) and Roosevelt station: Orange Line service operates between Midway and Roosevelt, only; Green Line service operates in two sections; buses or Red Line make connections.


Traffic Impacts

In conjunction with work on the elevated structure, some weekend street closures will be required along Wells and Van Buren streets.  Some intersections along those streets will also be closed.

Sidewalks will remain open to pedestrians, and access to businesses will be maintained.


Project Areas Map

Loop Track Renewal Wok Area Map

Project Video

This video provides an overview and summary of the scope of the Loop Track Renewal Project:

System status snapshot
‘L’ route status
Red Line
Normal Service
Blue Line
Normal Service
Brown Line
Normal Service
Orange Line
Normal Service
Pink Line
Normal Service
Yellow Line
Normal Service
Bus routes w/alerts
Elevator alerts