CTA packs vision sessions with info, solicits ideas on future of Red, Purple lines

I admit, I was skeptical of the format for the "vision sessions" on the Red and Purple lines -- an open house rather than giving formal presentations.

But it works. And I urge those of you who live north of the Addison and use the Red and/or Purple lines to attend the three other sessions scheduled for the rest of this week.

Large presentation boards at session conveyed information about the history, status and challenges facing the two trains lines. The CTA used this same visioning process for the Green and Brown line rehabs. They expect this vision phase to take about six months, culminating with a report in spring 2010 based on community input.

The challenges are immense in the so-called North Red and Purple Line Line Corridor, from Addison to Linden. This area:

  • Serves 71,000 riders each weekday.
  • Was built in the 1920s.
  • Covers a nine-mile corridor.
  • Contains 21 stations and 71 viaducts.
El viaduct.jpg

Information areas are well-staffed with folks from both the CTA and Chicago Transit Partners, a consulting company that oversees the CTA ongoing capital improvement program. One staffer emphasized how this project would be different the Brown Line expansion project both in scope and focus, since much infrastructure work is necessary here on top of new stations.

But the good news is that area politicians are working together to keep the pressure on the CTA to focus on this project. That starts with the U.S. senators and representatives (Sen. Dick Durbin has been especially supportive), and state legislators down to local aldermen. One staffer was confident that this project could get done sooner than the Brown Line --which took almost 20 years total -- because of the political willpower behind it.

And there's much work to be done. Here are some of the infrastructure issues listed:

Track: slow zones, service quality, and safety assuarance.
Structures: Slow zones, clearance on city streets, and vertical and horizontal clearances at viaducts.
Signals: reliability, safety assurance, and service flexibility, capability and constructability.
Power: reliability, capacity, increased power requirements, distance between substations, and aging equipment.

One placard also noted interim station improvements, some of which are already being made in this corridor: new platform lighting, station ceiling lighting, new station canopies, anti-graffiti stair enclosures, and new paint.

Finally, participants can find their home station on a 20-foot table laid-out with aerial maps of the Red and Purple lines. The CTA invites you to jot down your ideas for the future here.

Do it. Be a part of a great process.

(Flickr photo by PhotoDu.de)


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  • In the end, the community will be ignored & the CTA will design & rebuild stations in the same incompetent way it always has.
    Loyola is a prime example of design incompetence. It's really two platforms, but back to back. A truly atrocious design & with the stairs on the east side of Sheridan taken out, the station is large numbers must exit down a single stairway. There also isn't any way to enter the station from the Loyola side to the west. Of the two revolving gate turnstiles on the Loyola side, one leads to a stair, even though that could have been installed a few feet over where there is a ramp. And yes, I know someone that's disabled can't use the revolving gate but I've seen people trip on the stair because they didn't expect it to be there & the other gate exits to a ramp, so they assume that this one does too.
    Plus all of the concrete viaducts are disintegration after 100 years & need to be replaced. It would be far better to just shut down the entire section & quickly replace the viaducts in a few weeks, rather than force us to endure years of construction & the enormous delays that will cause.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Write e'm a check. I'm sure they'll put your money to work. Until that time...you get what you get and you'll like it. The state is broke, the city is broke and therefore the CTA is broke. Keeping things running is where the focus is now. The future? It's all pretty pictures and powerpoint slide shows and it'll stay that way. You want to suggest things? How about suggesting ways that the CTA can do things without spending a penny. Everything else is just pie in the sky.

    As for Loyola...why don't we just get CTA employees to carry the morons who don't look where they're walking or assume things are different than the way they are. Personal responsibility is the important point here...not whiny self-absorbed *ssholes.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Taking as a given that the needed actions on the four points (track, structure, signal, and power) are as self-evident as Jack argues, it still sounds like a good idea for the CTA to ask the portion of the riding public that most uses that stretch of the Red-Purple whether the repairs should be done:

    1) all at once in a single shut-down, Green Line style, or

    2) in physical and temporal pieces, like the Brown Line.

    Also, the four-point obvious list doesn't include the subject of stations, which WAS in the CTA's presentation and IS a legitimate topic for "visioning". Only fix broken things or do a more in-depth renovation? Of which stations? If renovation, how should the renovated stations look? Add secondary entrances/exits where they don't exist? Etcetera, etcetera. I would think Scooter Libbby's comments on Loyola station, whether or not one agrees with his critiques, make it clear that public input on stations IS needed.

  • In reply to jbredin:

    A secondary entrance/exit was built at Loyola, but it was first covered over with plywood & then all traces of it were removed at platform level.

    A total shutdown of all stations from Lawrence north into Evanston would be far preferable if they planned it out properly. All the prep work could be done ahead of the shutdown, new piers for the viaducts & the new viaducts built & held at nearby sites. Correctly done, all of the crumbling viaducts could be replaced in a two week period.
    For comparisons, look at what has been done in California by Caltrans in moving the Bay Bridge traffic to a temporary structure during the long Labor Day weekend & in the LA area due to earthquake damaged viaducts.
    Trying to replace them one by one will take years & cause slow zones for all that time. I'll take a short term shutdown with huge increases on the 22, 146, 147, 151 & most importantly, the 36, buses to take the load.

  • In reply to jbredin:

    Isn't the area around Howard Street a train yard? That would make it pretty hard to close down the line.

  • In reply to Westerner:

    Yep, but there is the other yard at 98th.

    However, given the passenger load on the north main, I don't see closing it down. There was enough chaos just closing alternate stations on the Brown Line for renovation, and cutting down frequency to accommodate 3 track. CTA certainly doesn't have enough buses to pack LSD and take up the slack of displaced L riders.

  • In reply to Westerner:

    "I'll take a short term shutdown with huge increases on the 22, 146, 147, 151 & most importantly, the 36, buses to take the load."

    *You* will? Well, hurrah! But because a majority of the riders may or may not agree with you, public meetings might be appropriate.

    My sarcasm is because I seriously doubt many riders would agree to two weeks of no Red Line north of Addison or Sheridan. 71,000 daily riders will NOT be accomodated on the bus routes you've listed. If by some miracle enough buses and drivers could be marshalled to carry 71,000 more people each weekday, they would turn Clark, Broadway, and the Inner and Outer Drives into parking lots!

    The last time the CTA closed an entire line outright for work, it was the Green Line. They haven't done it since. You may attribute that to incompetence, as with the Loyola station layout, but I happen to think there's good reason why they didn't do that again with the Brown or Pink work.

    *The Green Line is paralleled by the Blue on the West Side and the Red on the South Side. Except for the Metra UP-North line, which south of Rogers Park is too far west to be a real alternate, there is NO rail alternate for the Red north of Addison.

    *Two weeks is NOT a "short term shutdown". Weekends only, as they did with the Pink Line reconstruction and the recent Blue Line work, is short term. Nobody likes slow zones, but the L is faster and has more capacity than bus service even slowed down. Half a service is better than none.

  • In reply to jbredin:

    So you would prefer months, but knowing the CTA, actually years of slow zones & shut downs on weekends to a quick two week shutdown & resumption of full service at normal speed?
    The slow zones have caused thousands of people to abandon the L on the far north side. Go to the Rogers Park Metra station & watch the trains actually empty out during the afternoon rush. It's SRO up to RP, then the trains are half empty. The people have already spoken with their feet & moved over to Metra whenever possible due to the basic incompetence of the CTA & that the ride on Metra is only a little more as a single ticket & if you use a ten ride or monthly, it less than the CTA!

  • In reply to jbredin:

    This meeting was all fantasy. There is no funding. There is no plan. At this point it was just a big "what if" meeting - "if we get funding, what should we do?" Even if funding were obtained, a CTA employee told me, construction likely would not begin for 2-10 years.


  • In reply to jbredin:

    Shutting down the green line killed green line ridership. It's never recovered.

  • In reply to painhertz:

    It doesn't help that they took out several very popular stations, either -- as a rider of the Halsted bus before and during the shutdown, I would note that both north- and south-bound, during rush hour, about 3/4 of the bus would get off and board the train there. It was a great transfer-point on an arterial bus line, and a lot of people used it to go from one train to another without having to go through downtown, too.

  • In reply to painhertz:

    Well, even the appearance of listening is novel for the CTA.

    But funding is, indeed, the issue. It's not that there is no money in Washington -- there's always money for a war or two, for example -- it's what you prioritize. And where on the list will urban public transit be from 2011 onward, with the Party of No Transit running the show again in Springfield and Washington? About 3,000th on a list of 2,000 items, I'd guess.

  • In reply to jbredin:

    Clearly some of you need to step back and think rationally. The CTA is broke...so any idead that costs millions of dollars are out of the question for the foreseeable future. Most of this sounds, as usual, like axe-grinding. Get over it and get on with your life. Or...better yet, Shut the F* up and move.

  • In reply to jbredin:

    "The CTA is broke...so any idea that costs millions of dollars are out of the question for the foreseeable future."

    Work of this scale is capital improvement, so the CTA could apply for Federal tranportation funds. With the ongoing unemployment situation, there's a lot of pressure in and on Washington to pass a larger transportation funding bill:

    1) to serve as a second stimulus with more concrete (pardon the pun) job creation than the previous stimulus, and

    2) simply to put a crumbling transportation system back in working order. Minneapolis bridge collapse, anyone?

    I don't think anyone here was seriously contemplating that the CTA (or RTA) was going to pay for more than a fraction of this work. The broke CTA has been working on the Brown Line, fixing the Blue Line, etc., all along.

    I don't think it's the people who want a major portion of the L system to be in decent working condition who need to "step back and think rationally" or "shut the f*ck up and move."

  • In reply to jbredin:

    Yeah, not only is painhertz uninformed, he's also wearing his cranky pants today.

  • In reply to mikely:

    A lot more informed than you. The idea the the Federal Government has money to give the CTA is hilarious.

  • In reply to jbredin:

    Oh yeah..Like the Federal Government has money. What are you smoking?

  • All the posting seems to indicate is that the CTA has its presentation placards together, showing that Huberman PowerPoint management techniques are still in place there. As Scooter indicates, there is nothing in the post indicating that CTA is actually listening.

    "One staffer was confident that this project could get done sooner than the Brown Line --which took almost 20 years total ..." Again, as Scooter indicates, the concrete overpasses will collapse long before then.

    I don't know about Scooter's shutting down the lines point, but CTA did demonstrate a couple of times that it could close down a stretch during the weekend, demolish a concrete bridge, and roll a steel one into place. There should be some similar plan here.

    As far as vision, unless they are smoking ganja, it doesn't take much vision to attack the four points listed in the posting.

  • Jack, I have to defend the CTA here. Did you miss the part where I wrote that the area was well-staffed with CTA people -- who were listening. And did you miss the part where I wrote you can jot down ideas, and that the CTA will present a report in spring about the ideas coming from this visioning process. Or does that not constitute "listening" to you?

    And what four points are you referring to for attack in the post?

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    To reply in reverse order:
    The 4 points were track, signals, structure, power. To put in in simple terms, I now have an electrician in my house saying that the price to replace the circuit breaker on the circuit that runs my furnace costs $600. It doesn't take much vision on my part to determine that if I want heat, I pay him. Hence, it takes little vision to determine, for instance, that the viaducts that have jack stands under them need to be replaced. None of the 4 points cover anything like making Wilson into a superstation, replacing the L with a monorail, or anything else requiring vision.

    As far as them listening, they may be there, but that doesn't necessarily mean that anything mentioned will be implemented. Just to put this on the CTA Tattler level, how many responses have been received to how many spreadsheets on how to improve the CTA, or input before the vision meetings?

  • In reply to jack:

    Maybe my error was saying "attack," instead of "address and remediate." Sorry if that caused confusion.

  • In reply to jack:

    If it's just a bad circuit breaker & no rewiring is needed, you are getting ripped off!
    A new breaker will run no more than $25 unless it's something very special.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Off topic, but it was a 100 amp. 220 volt double toggle one. I only got charged $20 for labor, after coupon.

    Anyway, my point was that I didn't have to go through a multiyear, consultant process or toke up to get a vision about it.

  • In reply to jack:

    Didnt they say it'll take six months? And to be fair, if people truly participate and make suggestions, I'm sure that the reasonable ones will be vetted out and that does take time with models for cost calculations and if services changes were proposed, crafting new schedules.

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