CTA: Red Line rehab work is interim "facelift" - not part of Red-Purple project

This afternoon I got a note from a CTA media spokesperson further clarifying the nature of the seven-station Red Line rehab project I reported on yesterday.

“The work outlined in the RFP is intended to be a life extension/interim-facelift project aimed at improving service and enhancing rider experience until a long-term solution is determined. The work in the RFP is not part of the Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) project.

“Also, the CTA has not made a final decision on a preferred alternative for the RPM project. The upcoming RPM meetings are actually to present a narrowed down list of preferred alternatives and to solicit additional community feedback.”

Good to know, as I had opined that with this upcoming work – set to be completed in just over a year – it appeared the CTA was ready to move ahead with Basic Modernization with Transfer Stations, rather than the full renovation with all new structure and stations.

And speaking of the RPM project, the CTA will hold two open houses next week to update riders on the Red and Purple Modernization Project.

The purpose of this meeting is to:

  • Present updates to the ongoing Environmental Impact Statement process
  • Provide additional information to the public about the project
  • Solicit feedback from the community about the project

Exhibit boards from the open houses will be available on Feb. 6 to download on the project documents page.

Meetings will held from 5 till 7:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday:

Monday, Feb. 6
Evanston Public Library

1703 Orrington Avenue

Tuesday, Feb. 7
Broadway Armory

5917 N. Broadway


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  • Okay, that's the CTA's story and they are sticking to it. Fine. But there could be other interpretations of what the CTA is up to.

    Let's look at the North Main Line. It's been taken care of from the Loop to Addison, except for the complete rebuild of Clark and Division that was recently announced.

    Sheridan needs a full rebuild and track realignment to lessen the sharp curves, as noted in the various Red Purple modernization scenarios. So that's not on the list for now. It will require property acquisition and won't be a quick job.

    Wilson is covered by another recent announcement and will be a full rehab worth $100 million plus, starting this year. Watch for the track realignment that will go with it, and transfer-station dual platforms.

    Berwyn has been the subject of studies by the CTA and Jones Lang LaSalle for its transit-oriented potential. It's got large parking lots and developable space up and down Broadway, so why do modest rehab when you might do something big?

    That leaves Loyola, which is getting station-house improvements in partnership with Loyola University, and let's hope those improvements will be compatible with track realignment (the current station is built on a curve and called out for straightening in the Red Purple plan) and with Loyola's development plans for adjacent vacant lots.

    So that leaves us with rehabbed stations most of the way to Howard, and a few big jobs that will gobble up the 2.9 billion dollars required for the basic rehabilitation with transfer stations, including shoring up the embankments and rebuilding all four tracks.

    And that means that Rahm Emanuel can say, quite honestly, that he is rebuilding the Red Line, just as he said he would. I think it's great.

  • In reply to PatrickBarry:

    Well, that may be one interpretation, but not the one I reached this morning.

    The more interesting question is:

    Kevin O'Neil said 12 hours, 32 minutes ago

    Jack wrote: "Maybe the journalist in you can find out."

    I asked, but CTA won't comment on the RPM options, or anything else, except to confirm that the CTA will seek approval of the contractor at next week's board meeting.

    So, what suddenly precipitated this spokesperson's change of heart?

  • It doesn't make a lot of sense to rehab these stations if they are choosing certain Modernization options, in particular the subway option (unless they would have an above ground portal for the subway below, which would be a departure from anywhere else on the CTA).

  • In reply to chris:

    Basically besides not saying what is "an above ground portal" (there has to be some way to get from street level to the subway, and stations like North and Clybourn have a ground level headhouse), the Loyola and Wilson plans previously announced already severely limit the subway option, because (a) the subway would have to start north of Sheridan Road to line up with Broadway, but Loyola station is already over Sheridan Road, and remains so under Loyola's renderings, and (b) announced work to rehabilitate Wilson (combining the two projects) seems to involve elevators up to the platform.

    For any other station, the subway would be under Broadway, not a half block east of it, where the L is.

    Other alternatives involve having the line in the same place, but ripping out the embankment and building a Pink-Line like structure. So, this work would not be salvageable, either.

    Hence, since federal funds are involved, the only question is whether the work has such a short FTA useful life that CTA wouldn't have to save it. For instance, the RPM plans described above all contemplate keeping Howard station on the embankment, because it still has about 37 years of FTA useful life left. Thus, the spokesmodel's characterization that this isn't much more than a spruce-up is the only one consistent with that RPM is still on the table, not that I have ever believed that any option other than the fix it one can get funding.

  • In reply to jack:

    If they want to rip out the embankment & rebuild from scratch, then the North Side won't have any service north of Belmont for at least five years [Because Wilson & Sheridan would be rebuilt at the same time. There might be limited service to Addison on game days, but they also want to eliminate the kink around the Vautravers Building & hopefully build the NB Ravenswood flyover].
    If they go for a subway under Broadway, history shows the CTA is atrocious at maintaining subway trackage. The tunnel that connects the State Street tubes with the Ryan is 19 years old & has had major slow zones for the last year.
    And any fix to Loyola needs to eliminate the two separate platforms & make it one wider platform for both directions.
    The ROW just south of the station has room on the east side to move tracks 3+4 over & there's both an alley & Loyola Ave to use to move tracks 1+ 2 over on the west side of the ROW. The current platforms are ludicrous.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Then I'll take it that you'll be at the RPM hearings and let them know that.

    Since I, as previously noted, don't believe that there won't be any RPM beyond a fix, I won't.

  • Hell no, I won't go!
    They're not going to do more than a fix because there's no money from the feds to do so.
    I do believe that there will be a major realignment at Sheridan due to the necessity of it when they finally upgrade it to ADA standards.
    Other than that & rebuilding Wilson at some point, not much else will happen.

  • The exhibit boards from the Red Purple Modernization meeting are posted on the CTA web site, here:

    The boards show that the subway and three-track alternatives have been dropped and that a new Modernization proposal without station consolidation is under consideration. Also a flyover north of Belmont is being considered to speed traffic through the Brown Line crossover. Interesting.

  • In reply to PatrickBarry:


    It seems like they about 80% recognized that the work at Wilson constrains the other choices. They did say that it eliminated the need for the transfer station option (apparently Wilson's platforms will be reconfigured), they didn't come out and say that it precluded the subway, but they have thrown the subway out.

    The graphics still leave open Scooter's question of how they are going to be able to build an aerial structure on the same right of way as the embankment. One would think that the columns indicated would have to go through the embankment at some point. Not as easy as building columns under the preexisting Douglas L steel structure.

    We all can also look back on why they didn't build the Clark Jct. flyover as part of the Brown Line project.

    And, of course, given yesterday's post about the proposal to yank transit out of the transportation bill, no indication how they can fund any of this.

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