A major project to rehabilitate the Ravenswood Connector—the elevated part of the 'L' between Armitage and the Loop, currently used by Brown Line and Purple Line Express service—is underway.
Following structural improvements, the project's most notable track work phase began in 2015 renewing miles of track and eliminating over two miles of "slow zone" areas where trains were made to operate no faster than 15 mph. The project continues now in its final phase with signal work being done to improve service reliability through the area.
This part of the 'L' was originally built in the late 19th Century as part of a new 'L' line from the Loop to Wilson. Service began over this structure in 1900.
The rehabilitation project is a $90 million investment that will result in faster, safer and more reliable service on a key segment of the Brown and Purple Lines used by about 700 trains on a typical weekday.
What work is being done?
Crews have finished replacing worn rail ties and track components along the stretch of elevated track between the Armitage and Merchandise stations. This portion of project work helped eliminate slow zones and create a smoother, more reliable ride for the more than 40,000 customers who ride Purple and Brown line trains to and from the Loop each weekday.
Under the first phase of project work, which began in September 2013, crews repaired and replaced components on the steel structure between the Armitage and Merchandise Mart elevated stations. This work was necessary before we could tackle the culprit behind all the slow zones—replacement of deteriorated rail ties and track components.
Today, the final phase of work continues (without significant service disruptions) on upgrading signaling systems to improve service reliability over the Connector.
Photo gallery from track work phase
What's included in the work?
Overall project work includes:
- Repair and replacement of well over a thousand steel, structural components
- Replacement of deteriorated rail ties
- Replacement and repair of track components
- Signal upgrades to improve service reliability
What will the impact on customers be?
No further significant rider impacts are expected as signal improvements are finished.
Over the course of a number of select weekends in 2015, Brown Line trains were rerouted via the State Street Subway (normally used only by Red Line service), between Fullerton and Roosevelt.
Work requiring the weekend-only reroutes began in April 2015 and continued through the fall, as planned, and did not occur during large-scale events and summer festivals such as Taste of Chicago and Lollapalooza.
During those weekend reroutes:
- Brown Line trains stopped at all Red Line subway stations between Fullerton and Roosevelt. (Brown Line riders will not need to change trains to continue into downtown.)
- For service to/from the Armitage, Sedgwick, Chicago and Merchandise Mart Brown Line stations, free shuttle buses operated between Fullerton and Clark/Lake, making stops at or near the affected stations.
- Additionally, a shuttle train operated around the Loop 'L', providing connections between Brown Line service (running via subway) to all Loop 'L’ stations, as well as for transfers to/from shuttle buses at Clark/Lake.
- Brown Line service between Kimball and Fullerton was not affected.
2015 reroute map, on weekends when track upgrades were being made:
Visit the Brown Line page for current and upcoming service alerts (related to either this or any other project), or subscribe to planned weekend service changes from CTA Updates to have advance notice of work e-mailed to you.