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.
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)