Why CTA's Lawrence platform is wood, not concrete

Why CTA's Lawrence platform is wood, not concrete

By now Red Line riders have noticed that the Lawrence station is deviating from the pattern of the other North Red rehabs. The new platform is made of wood, not precast concrete like the others. And down at street level, there wasn’t a real stationhouse to rehabilitate with shiny new tile and a polished terrazzo floor. Lawrence was a worn-down open-air station with a chain-link enclosure, the ugly duckling of the CTA rail system.

The good news is that the new Lawrence station, scheduled to reopen at the end of November, will become a better-looking duckling. The formerly wavy and uneven platform has been replaced with a new one that is flat and true. The rusty steel bridge has been sandblasted and repainted. And the chain-link fence is being replaced with decorative wrought-iron-style fencing.

We asked the CTA why Lawrence was different and spokesperson Catherine Hosinski provided the answers:

“The Lawrence station is unlike the other stations targeted under this project for two primary reasons:

“First, the Lawrence station is where the elevated tracks go from being supported by steel infrastructure (on the south end) to solid-fill embankment (on the north side). Because the infrastructure is not fully supported by solid-fill embankment, a precast-concrete platform is not feasible, which is why plans have always included replacement of the wood platform decking.

“Second, this station does not feature an enclosed stationhouse and instead has an open-air layout. What customers can expect when all station work is completed:

  • Replacement of the chain-link fence with a wrought iron fence
  • Reconfiguration of the station layout for improved circulation
  • Added exit-only turnstile and luggage gate entrance/exit
  • New station floor finish – similar to the Granville station
  • Replacement of the station ceiling and canopies over fare vending machines
  • Large-scale pigeon deterrence efforts throughout the station and adjacent viaducts
  • New platform foundations, wooden decking, fixture and furnishings
  • Refurbished canopy structure
  • Repainting of the entire bridge structure
  • Concrete repairs, painting and sealing/coating of the viaduct
  • Upgraded lighting under the viaduct
  • The existing customer assistant booth will receive a new stainless steel exterior finish”

Jarvis fits the mold Hosinski said that work at the Jarvis station will be more on par with what was done at the other stations. That work, which is well underway after an early start on Nov. 1, will include the full renovation of the stationhouse, including expansion into the former storefront space to the east, and  pre-cast concrete platforms. Hosinski said the Jarvis project will include:

  • Masonry repairs and new tuck-pointing on the station house exterior
  • New windows, doors and exterior lighting on the station house
  • New station house interior finishes including glazed brick and terrazzo flooring, new lighting and signage
  • Improved station house interior layout/circulation with the expansion of the stationhouse footprint to the east
  • Sidewalk repairs and new bike racks outside of the station house
  • New concrete platform, platform foundations, fixtures and furnishings
  • Refurbished canopy structure
  • Concrete repairs, painting and sealing/coating of the viaduct
  • New waterproofing and drainage system on the viaduct
  • Upgraded lighting under the viaduct
  • New trackbed, ties and rails on the viaduct and through the station area

As Alderman Joe Moore has reported, the Jarvis work involves street closures on Jarvis as well as Sherwin, to make way for the 90-ton construction crane used for the track equipment and platform. The station is scheduled to reopen by December 13, but Hosinski reminds riders that related work will continue after the stations reopen.

This story originally appeared at CTA Station Watch.


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  • It doesn't explain why they're not building a station house, or why Lawrence is not receiving new ties and rails like Jarvis.

    I was hoping it would look less like Mad Max like, but time will tell if the iron fencing will look decent.

  • In reply to chris:

    You might want to click on the link to CTA Station Watch, and read the comment there (at least for background), and then click on the Lawrence circle at the top for a possible future reason.

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    In reply to chris:

    The CTA probably ran out of money.

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    This makes no sense – the platforms at Belmont and Fullerton are concrete yet fully supported by steel.

  • In reply to Adam H:

    However, the complete underpinnings were rebuilt, including moving the tracks further to the east. Here they are just slapping a platform on the existing structure.

    After $200 million of work on Wilson, I bet it gets concrete platforms.

  • Wood & wrought iron is easier to tear down than concrete and steel.

    It looks like CTA is leaning towards closing the Lawrence stop and going with the Modernization Alternative in the RPM project. Under that plan the number of entrances to stations increases (from 24-31) but the number of stations decreases (from 21 to 16). One of the stations disappearing under this plan is Lawrence.


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