Red Ahead: Red & Purple Modernization

Phase One & Transit TIF

Phase One

The comprehensive work outlined as part of RPM is scheduled to be completed in phases, which allows us to make the greatest number of improvements while minimizing impacts on riders and the surrounding communities.

Phase One includes two main components:

Project Scope

RPM Phase One will completely rebuild the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr stations and all the tracks and support structures for more than a mile adjacent to the stations. The stations will be accessible for the first time and include wider platforms, better lighting and modern amenities. The project will also construct a bypass just north of Belmont station for north bound Brown Line trains to modernize the 100-year-old Clark Junction where Red, Purple and Brown Line trains currently intersect. The bypass will allow us to significantly increase the number of trains it runs along the Red Line to reduce overcrowding and meet growing demand for transit service.

Why is RPM needed?

RPM will bring significant improvements to modernize the century-old corridor and allow CTA to serve customers in the area for the next 60 to 80 years. The Red Line improvements will modernize a transit corridor that is nearly 100 years old and can no longer handle additional trains to meet demand, including a 40 percent jump in rush hour ridership over a five-year period.

Project Benefits

  • Faster, smoother rides with new track, bridges, and viaducts in the Red-Purple Bypass and Lawrence to Bryn Mawr Modernization areas, as well as signal upgrades along the entire Chicago Red-Purple corridor, allows for better through-put while also offering a smoother, quieter ride.
  • Less crowding and more frequent service with wider, longer station platforms in the Lawrence to Bryn Mawr section, upgraded electrical and signal capacity, and the elimination of bottlenecks at an outdated rail intersection, CTA can run more frequent train service during rush hour. This will allow CTA to expand service to accommodate up to 7,200 additional customers per hour (30% more than today) in the most constrained period, reducing passenger wait times and alleviating overcrowding to meet growing demand.
  • Modern, comfortable, accessible stations in the Lawrence to Bryn Mawr area with elevators, wider platforms, and vastly improved amenities, including accessibility at four stations in a more than one-mile stretch where no stations are currently accessible
  • Thousands of good-paying jobs, and the ability to leverage the City’s local hiring and DBE authorities to promote opportunities for residents
  • Connecting Neighborhoods – RPM Phase One will eliminate pillars in the roadway create more connected communities, as well as link transit-dependent communities with better access to jobs ; 20 percent of residents near project are below poverty level, 37 percent are minority, and 48 percent use transit as primary mode of commute

How will we pay for it?

In order to receive the more than $1 billion in federal funding to support the first phase of RPM, CTA and the City of Chicago were required to provide a local funding match. In June 2016, the Illinois General Assembly approved a new financial tool for this purpose known as Transit-Tax Increment Financing (TIF).

The state bill specified that funds from Transit TIF could be used only for specified Chicago transit projects –including RPM.

The Transit TIF district legislation was passed by the Illinois General Assembly in June 2016 and was signed by the Illinois Governor in August 2016.

CTA and the City of Chicago held a lengthy public process to inform the community of the needs and impacts of the Transit TIF that included informational mailings, public meetings, Chicago City Council hearings and additional community meetings.

The Transit TIF for RPM Phase One was approved by Chicago City Council in November 2016. The Transit TIF provided a local match that allowed CTA to secure more than $1 billion in federal funding. Other funds that support the project include a $957 million in a Full Funding Grant Agreement with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA); a federal $125 million Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) grant from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP); and CTA financing.

How does Transit TIF work?

Transit TIF (tax increment financing) is an economic development tool to support investment in large-scale, long-term transit projects. Such projects are typically funded by a mix of federal, state and local dollars.

To designate a Transit TIF district, Chicago first establishes a “base” value for all properties located in the district. This base value is then frozen for the life of the district. Once a base is established, Transit TIF funds are created by growth in property value, known as increment, that occurs because of the investment in transit.

Similar to establishing other TIF districts, the process to establish this Transit TIF included a public notice mailing, public hearing, CDC approval, and City Council approval.


Public meeting on proposed Transit TIF for RPM Phase One

The proposed designation of a redevelopment project area for the Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) Phase One Project was discussed at a public meeting held on September 13, 2016. The public meeting included a presentation (.pdf) by City of Chicago and CTA representatives, followed by public comment session for members of the public to ask questions or provide oral or written statements about the proposed Transit TIF.

The following are materials that were available at the public meeting:

  • Transit TIF presentation (.pdf)
  • Transit TIF boundary map (.pdf)


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