"Scoping meetings" next step in Red, Purple line modernization project

The CTA will kick off the first phase of the environmental study of the Red and Purple Modernization Project with four public meetings later this month.

The CTA knows it needs to make substantial improvements to the Red Line north of Belmont and the Purple Line. While it doesn’t have the funding yet, the CTA is using the strict process mandated by the feds.

The overall goals of the modernization project are to:

  • Reduce travel times.
  • Improve access to job markets.
  • Better use existing transit infrastructure.
  • Provide access to people with disabilities.
  • Support the area’s economic development initiatives.
RPModernization Project.JPG

The CTA already held a visioning session for the project in November 2009. The more than 1,100 comments that came out of those visioning sessions helped shaped the six key proposals being reviewed in first part of the environmental study.

The six alternatives for the modernization project are:

  1. No Action Alternative: Maintains the status quo. It includes the absolute minimum repairs required to keep the lines functional. This alternative is used as a basis for comparison for the other alternatives.
  2. Basic Rehabilitation Alternative: Provides strategic mix of repairs, rehabilitation and replacement for a useful life of 20 years.
  3. Basic Rehabilitation with Transfer Stations Alternative Same as Basic Rehabilitation Alternative plus the addition of transfer stations at Wilson and Loyola.
  4. Modernization 4-Track Alternative: Provides modern amenities at station, increases speed of service, includes news transfer stations at Wilson and Loyola and major repairs, reconstruction and new construction would extend the useful life to 60-80 years.
  5. Modernization 3-Track Alternative: Similar improvements as Modernization 4-Track Alternative except with 3-tracks in the North Red Line area and no reverse-commute express service. Includes many of the same station amenities with less right-of-way acquisition.
  6. Modernization 2-Track Underground Alternative: Similar improvements as Modernization 4-Track Alternative except with a 2-track subway between Belmont and Loyola and a 2-track elevated between Loyola and Howard.

UPDATE: See comment below for details on Alternatives 4-6.
The meetings are set for 6 to 8:30 pm on the following dates and at these locations:

Monday, Jan. 24
St. Augustine College
1325 W. Argyle St.

Tuesday, Jan. 25
Nicholas Senn High School
5900 N Glenwood Ave.

Rogers Park
Wednesday, Jan. 26
New Field Primary School
1707 W. Morse Ave.

Thursday, Jan. 27
Fleetwood-Jourdain Center
1655 Foster Street

I’ll be at the Wednesday session. Join me!

And of course you’re welcome to share your comments on the alternatives.

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  • This shows just how incompetent the CTA is at planning for the future.
    After spending a small fortune rebuilding Belmont, Fullerton, Diversey & the totally unnecessary Wellington stations, one of their proposals is to put the trains in a 2 track tunnel from Loyola to Belmont, thus having a speedy trip, non-rush, but condemning the ridership to the old L tracks from Belmont to the tunnel portal south of Armitage. Complete with the ridiculous Diversey Kink, which should have been straightened out, but that fool Kreusi didn't want to.

    Just another wretched example of how people that never ride the system don't know how to fix the system.

    The simple fact is, that only #4 makes sense. All the others are there for cover your ass mode for the politicians!

  • In reply to ElstonClybourn:

    I would suggest you come to the meeting and see what they are actually proposing. Not sure how you surmised all this from what I posted. I will go to the meeting with an open mind, consider the details and then make my judgment on the alternatives.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    As far as what they are actually proposing, you have Alternative 6 posted. If that doesn't mean what it says, then have CTA clarify it. ElstonClybourn didn't pick it out of clear air.*

    As far as participatory democracy having anything to do with the CTA, that's about as likely as the Circle Line being built in our lifetimes. The only thing going to the meetings seems to accomplish is that the Yellow Line extension might be rejected because, according to the mayor and school board, the "locally preferred alternative" wasn't.

    At least Pace gives lip service to listening to the public; no evidence that CTA has either listened or claimed to.

    In any event, CTA said in its press release that no money has been identified for this project. If there is no money for Alternative 1, consider what multiple would be needed for Alternative 6.
    *Of course, this could be like the lawyer blogger, who claimed that the workers' comp bill said one thing, until he posted it, and it didn't.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, you can't have it both ways. You can't complain about the CTA not listening to customers, and then refuse to give feedback to them when they ask for it.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    As I said in response to several political blogs, I do not engage in futile acts.

    For everyone's participation in the Red Line extension hearings, I don't see any construction on that yet.

    Maybe you and Tracy Schwartz should ask prospective Mayor Emanuel what his position is on making the CTA Board accountable to the people, instead of Tracy being obsessed on whether Rahm will be retaining Rodriguez. So long as the game is giving out $25,000 a year jobs to the politically connected, while letting the Board abdicate its legal responsibilities, it won't make a difference what any of us tell them.

    Of course, if you want to pay my normal work rate of $50/hour for me to spend several hours sitting through remonstrances by community groups that will be ignored, I'll let you know where to send the check.

    My only point was that neither ElstonClybourn nor I made up Alternative 6, which you apparently posted without reading.

  • In reply to jack:

    "For everyone's participation in the Red Line extension hearings, I don't see any construction on that yet"

    You're right - clearly because the CTA hates constituents, not because it has no money.

  • In reply to aaronjbrown:

    And also because, according to their Internet postings, they start with Maglev, Commuter Bus, High Speed Rail, and LRV, and then throw them out. Then, as I mentioned in the Skokie example, they come up with a "locally preferred alternative" that the locals protest. All wasted effort.

    Even if the money existed, it would be another decade before all the studies were done on the Red Line extension.

    You take everything at face value, don't you AB?

  • In reply to jack:

    I'm sure you do know that most of these studies are required for Federal money (I know how much you love to quote law/regulations).

    Of course I'd like expansions/rehabs to happen sooner, but that's not a good reason for avoiding all input into the process.

  • In reply to jack:

    Also, if you don't engage in futile acts, why do you spend so much time ranting on the comments sections of blogs? ;)

  • In reply to aaronjbrown:

    There is a point to that. Back to work.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    Kevin, is there more information on proposal 6? This is the first that I've heard of a new dig, I'd love to read more about it.

  • In reply to TylerMGuth:

    Tyler, sorry, but I don't have any more info. I couldn't find anything else on CTA's website. But I will report what I learn at the meeting on this.

  • In reply to TylerMGuth:

    Points of clarification, please:

    1) What are these "transfer stations" at Loyola and Wilson?

    2) Alternative 5 has "less right-of-way acquisition" than what--Alternative 4? And what amount of right-of-way acquisition are we talking about there, and what's involved? What does a 3-track do as compared to a 2-track and a 4-track? What ramifications does each of these have for platform configurations?

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    CCWriter: Unfortunately, I don't have any more detail that this. I hope to be enlightened at the meeting.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    For a bunch of people who didn't go to the original meetings, you sure do complain a lot. Jack pretty much hates every elected official it seems and probably has an issue with authority. You want all these questions answered from politicians, like Kevin has access to all of them. Ask them yourself! You remind me of the people who say voting is pointless and then complain incessantly about who is elected. You're a smart guy, but the complaining is a bit much.

    I went to the original planning meetings and had some really great conversations with real CTA employees about the Red Line project and many other topics that were unrelated to the meeting. In order to qualify for certain types of funds, they have to put a certain amount of alternatives in the proposal to show that they looked at other possibilities. Yes, the likelihood of #6 is probably none. Get over it. Don't tell Kevin that he didn't read what he posted.

    Based on the limited information posted on a flyer, I like #4, but I'm going to go to the meetings with an open mind. I enjoy riding the CTA and hope it continues to improve. That's why I'll be going to this meeting, to learn more about what's going on as well as give input on what plan should go into affect.

  • In reply to chris:

    Well said Chris. Now, where's the "like" button?

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    I happen to remember that the same people complaining now are the people who didn't like that they solicited public input at the previous vision meetings.

    I'm personally looking forward to going on Monday's session. If you want to report on it the 1st day or go to multiple sessions, you can get there easily from the Argyle stop.

  • In reply to chris:

    "Jack pretty much hates every elected official it seems and probably has an issue with authority."

    We live in Illinois, don't we. 'Nuff said. Also, I don't have an issue with Kirk. The other despots, yes, I do.

  • In reply to TylerMGuth:

    Some of youare getting all freaked out by the subway idea. But here's my take on it.
    Just as No. 1 (doing nothing - least expensive) serves as a baseline for comparison with other alternatives, so does No. 6 - building the subway. It's no doubt the most expensive.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    Option Number 6 makes no sense at all. The CTA always rejects subways for other expansion projects because of the cost, but considers one this project. It makes no sense. Besides why come out of the subway south of Fullerton, and then make stops at Fullerton and Belmont and then go back into a subway. If they seriously are considering a subway, why not just continue the existing subway all the way to Loyola with the new portion having limited stops (Belmont and Wilson). I have to agree with jack on this, in that the CTA wastes time drawing up all these different scenarios when they are always rejected anyway because the costs is prohibitive.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    If option 3 is considered, then the Purple Line Express is no longer an "Express" option in my opinion (not that it is now). If the CTA is considering making Wilson and Loyola transfer stations, then the Purple Line should not be making stops south of Fullerton except at Chicago and the Mart.

  • In reply to rsakowski:

    Ever since the express tracks where removed south of armitage the Purple line shares track with the Brown line thus it is impossible for the Purple to run express if any brown line train is present. Due to the widing of the platforms on the brown line, the express tracks will never return.

  • In reply to rsakowski:

    Ideally the Purple Line would be shifted on to Red Line routing at Belmont and sent into the city on the subway. They can run it up the 13th Street incline south of Roosevelt which would alleviate crowding on the loop tracks and make faster trips since it's fewer stops.

    When the Northside Main is rebuilt they'll actually be able to run the Purple Line at full speed and it'll make trips a lot shorter.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    I read the proposal days ago when it was published as a legal notice in the Trib.
    And I totally agree with Jack that going to these meetings is a joke & it's just a screen for whatever they want to do.
    There isn't any democracy in this city, as I've been to other meetings of this sort.
    A prime example of this is when the city was replacing the main library.
    There were meetings all over the city. People voted for their favorite of the 5 or 6 proposals. The least favorite of the people was chosen & we are now stuck with one of the ugliest buildings on earth, which is also one of the most non-functional.

    I know for sure that they have chosen the plan they want to do already. All that's necessary is the capital funding. They will only change their plans is the money isn't there.

    The CTA does what it wants to do, public be damned!
    I chose this as a screen name because I don't have a car, but there are a number of stores on Elston & Clybourn I shop at, but no bus service on either street since 1995. Actually, no service on Elston south of Belmont at all. Yet both streets have become major shopping areas in Chicago. but the CTA has done nothing to get us there!

  • In reply to ElstonClybourn:

    I personally like the Harold Washington Library and don't think it's ugly in the least. But because you think its ugly, the fact that it got built is proof that there's no democracy in Chicago?! If "ugly" is based on voting results from the meetings, do you have a link to those results?

    And explain how the library building is non-functional. That's at least less subjective than "one of the ugliest buildings on earth".

  • In reply to jbredin:

    It's non-functional as you can't use the main elevators from the first floor.
    Atrocious interior layout & the winners of the public voting were the Dirk Lohan version & the Arthur Harris version. Harris was the Canadian with the curvy one that went over the L tracks.

  • In reply to jbredin:

    Hey folks, calm down.

    The Federal Government mandates that CTA is required to come up with a bunch of different alternatives and go through the "Alternatives Analysis" process if they're going to get Federal funding.

    Read: http://www.fta.dot.gov/funding/grants/grants_financing_7395.html

    *The More You Know*

  • In reply to elgatoalto:

    If one actually looks at 49 U.S.C. 5339 all it really says is that the Feds make available grants for alternatives analysis. It doesn't say that all of this rigmarole is necessary to getting federal funding. Maybe CTA thinks it is, but I suppose that Durbin, Quigley, and Schkowsky, and even Kirk could get together to get an appropriation for actually doing something in their districts.

    This proves that 5339 is just paying the consultants, not accomplishing anything tangible.

  • In reply to jack:

    Well if we want to play that game I present to you 49 USC 5309(e)(1)(A)


  • In reply to elgatoalto:

    Sure, except that CTA said that it did not have a source for the funding. Read the first paragraph of the press release.

    Now maybe you can say that CTA is proceeding in this manner to save time in anticipation that maybe 5309 funding will materialize. Perhaps you are also saying that it is the feds that are insisting on all these studies. Fine. Then, I guess I blame the feds for subsidizing consultants under 5339 without coming up with the construction funds under 5309. Still a waste, just on a nationwide scale.

    But as my father said, when he brought up Florida high speed rail, "at least someone [the consultant] is working."

  • In reply to elgatoalto:

    There are more details in the Notice of Intent filed with the FTA.

    Most notably, both the "Modernization 4-Track Alternative" and "Modernization 3-Track Alternative" would permanently close four stations: South Blvd, Jarvis, Thorndale, and Lawrence. Both of these options would also replace the existing structure and embankment with "modern concrete aerial structure."

    The "

  • Thanks Kevin. This is very helpful information.

  • In reply to zolk:

    Yes, thanks for the info and interpretation. Each alternative could have quite a bit of impact on the neighborhoods, with all sorts of pros and cons to think about. Seems like the "might as well" factor figures into it: if you're going to do something, maybe you should do it properly. We plant trees that we may not live to see at their full height.

    I still wish I knew what a "transfer station" is when it's at home. I take it some stations are transfer stations and others are not. Maybe they will explain this at the meetings.

  • In reply to zolk:

    What is a "transfer station?"

    Presumably, the platforms would be reconfigured so that Purple Line trains could stop at those stations and passengers could transfer to and from the Red Line. Right now, the Purple Line cannot stop at Wilson or Loyola.

  • In reply to ElstonClybourn:

    I agree that Alternative 6 is ridiculous. Can one imagine the cost of digging a subway from Loyola to Belmont, and then having only two tracks? The part on the embankment is o.k., except that the concrete bridges are crumbling and need to be replaced. The Wilson area needs to be straightened out, and probably put on a structure similar to the Pink Line along 21st.

    I also agree with ElstonClybourn that if anything should have been subway, it should have been from about Montrose to Armitage, but that's precluded by the Brown Line Project having a 40 year FTA life.

    Hence, this reinforces what I said on the RedEye one that this process is only to keep consultants at work. The CTA finally came out with a press release indicating that this had to be treated as a New Start because they were seeking federal money, but no source of federal money has been identified.

    Anyone with any sense would take Alternative 2 today and try to work toward Alternative 4.

  • In reply to jack:

    Further reading shows that every proposal is completely insane. Both the 3 or 4 track complete modernization projects want to remove the entire embankment & replace it wit a concrete pillar & trestle structure. That means no L service for many years, unless they're planning to tear down everything on either the east or west sides of the current right of way.
    The only way to continue service while this happens is a follows:
    I think no one is going to allow this to happen, as it means everything from Broadway east to the current ROW will disappear or everything from Winthrop west to the current ROW will go.
    Almost as expensive as a subway.
    There's nothing wrong with the current embankment except it's too narrow to allow major station reconstruction without tearing something down at many of the stations.
    All that's needed is replacement of the bridges & rebuilding the stations, much cheaper.
    And the sensible way to replace the bridges is to shut the line down for maybe 2 months & do them all at once.

  • In reply to jack:

    Wow, a subway under Broadway would be great for Andersonville and Edgewater development. Transit-oriented development is tricky when your city's mode of transit is loud enough to make the surrounding several blocks in each direction unlivable.

  • In reply to TylerMGuth:

    Unlivable? My friend is "living" right next to the tracks at Argyle. He seems to be living just fine. If you build the building in a way that blocks the sounds, it's not that bad. I barely noticed it when I was there.

  • In reply to TylerMGuth:

    Sorry, yes, I agree. I live right by Bryn Mawr, and my life is swell, but attracting development on a larger scale is objectively made that much more difficult, especially investment from outside the community. I also think that I (and most of us here) have an abiding love for the aesthetic of transit that makes it hard to put myself in a developer's shoes. That said, the subway proposal is still ridiculous in scale, and envisioning a chain of little Logan Squares all the way up Broadway is probably not realistic. Historic proposals to move swaths of Chicago transit underground, as mentioned earlier, have by-and-large failed. The major consideration though, aside from price, was preservationist outcry over the demolition of the loop structure. Here, surely we agree that (with the possible exception of the Argyle pagoda) there is little CTA property of significant architectural interest, at least not that could be realistically preserved, between Belmont and Loyola.

  • In reply to TylerMGuth:

    There's nothing historic about the Argyle pagoda, it's less than 20 years old.
    There is also a group that finds the totally disgusting Wilson station house historic & wants it to remain.
    I'm definitely NOT one of them!

    And to go back to my original theme of CTA incompetence in planning for the future: 15-20 years ago, they wanted to build a single track NB flyover at Clark Junction. In the process of rebuilding the NB Belmont platform, common sense would have dictated that a very short stub be built on the new track 4 structure so no demolition, however minor, would have to be done. Since any flyover would also require demolition of buildings along the east side of the ROW north of Belmont, I can only hope that they don't sell off the property they bought & demolished for the construction trailers without leaving themselves space for that flyover. But knowing the basic incompetence of the CTA, I'm sure they will, thus precluding the flyover.
    The same incompetence was demonstrated at Fullerton, when the city moved & tore down the Lincoln Park Library & allowed DePaul to build right up to the edge of SB track 1, instead of making them leave 10-12 feet so the new SB Fullerton platform could be constructed without tracks 2 & 3 moved over. Done correctly, only 2 of the 4 tracks would have been moved, not 3 of them.
    Even worse was Howard, where they built all new stores on CTA property right up to the ROW while knowing that the station was going to be totally renovated. But by doing this, they had to redo the station within its current narrow confines.
    Absolute madness, a complete lack of proper planning for the future & a level of incompetence rarely anywhere else in our society!

  • In reply to jack:

    Leave a comment...

  • In reply to ElstonClybourn:

    I respect the ideas and opinions you guys have. Now show up at one of the meetings and share them with the CTA.

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