How proposed Red Line modernization project would impact CTA riders

At an open house last week, the CTA shared more information on how it would construct the first phase of its proposed Red Purple Modernization project. And more importantly, how it would impact CTA riders.

The CTA shared details on 22 display boards.

Here’s the most important stuff.

Stage 1 RPMDetails of work

Station improvements:

  • Completely reconstruct the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn, and Bryn Mawr stations.
  • New elevators and widened stairways would increase capacity, provide ADA accessibility, and improve passenger and emergency access.
  • Provide for reduced waiting times and easier boarding, since the platforms will be almost twice as wide.
  • Total construction (in two phases) will be 36 to 42 months, and could start as early as 2017.


  • The platform widening would take place over adjacent alleys along the east side of the alignment, where possible.
  • Two properties would be acquired for permanent right-of-way and construction – 5657 and 5625 N. Broadway. Both are adjacent car dealers. These would be used as construction staging areas. The CTA would sell the portions of the sites remaining to developers after construction.

Stage 1 construction details and impacts:

  • Lawrence and Berwyn stations are closed.
  • Red and Purple lines will continue to run on just two tracks north and south.
  • At Bryn Mawr, the southbound entrance will be on Broadway or Hollywood.
  • The #81 Lawrence bus will be rerouted to serve Wilson statio
  • The #92 Foster bus will be rerouted to serve an adjacent open station (either Argyle or Bryn Mawr station)

Stage 2 RPMStage 2 construction details and impacts:

  • Lawrence and Berwyn stations remain closed; Argyle station also closed
  • New temporary station at Foster/Winona open
  • Bryn Mawr temporary station available southbound only, northbound riders may exit at Thorndale station and ride back south to Bryn Mawr station
  • Additional 5 to 9 minutes of walk time. It may be less depending on origin.

Aesthetic changes and impacts:

  • Longer/wider platforms.
  • Fewer columns and better sightlines in station houses.
  • Piers removed from center of streets.
  • Increased height of the track structure.
  • Closed-deck aerial structure with noise barriers.
  • Alley spanning for track widening.
  • Some embankment wall removal.

During his welcoming remarks, 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman said he would ask the CTA to keep Berwyn open during the first phase of the construction. A CTA spokesperson said those are the kinds of comments the CTA is soliciting in this phase.

Written comments will be accepted until May 29. Comments may be submitted either by email ( or via U.S. mail:

Chicago Transit Authority
Strategic Planning, 10th Floor
Attn: Lawrence to Bryn Mawr Modernization Project
567 W. Lake Street
Chicago, IL 60661


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  • The real question about keeping a station open is whether there will be any tracks next to the platform for it to serve. Essentially they would have to build temporary platforms next to tracks to be demolished 18 months later. But the map looks like they want to do something similar for Argyle.

    It is similar to the article where someone from the Aragon Ballroom said he couldn't see why it would take 3 years to rebuild a station. It isn't that, but it would take 3 years to rebuild the structure on which the new station is to be perched.

    The real impact probably is don't expect the Purple Line to really be express for at least 5 years, maybe longer.

  • What is happening to the "SHERIDAN" stop? Why is that stop being left out? that's the most important stop because lots of people park their cars on Irving Park and take the CTA from the Sheridan stop.

  • In reply to ApresSki:

    "... lots of people park their cars on Irving Park and take the CTA from the Sheridan stop."

    How many is "lots"? It can't be more than about 100-150 daily park-and-riders, assuming EVERY car parked around the station is using the CTA. Look at this satellite image from Google Maps taken in the middle of the day - you barely see any cars parked on nearby streets.

    But let's assume that somehow there's even double that estimate (300 people manage to find street parking so they can treat Sheridan as an informal park-and-ride station)... that's only about 6% of the daily boardings at Sheridan (5283 people enter the station every weekday).

    Sheridan deserves to be rebuilt because the neighborhood needs a modern ADA-accessible station. But making the argument that it needs to be rebuilt because car drivers use it as a park-and-ride seems totally off base.

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    In reply to djs04f:

    With respect to the Clark Junction Brown Line flyover (aka"Red-Purple bypass"), neighbors proposed a subway reconstruction along Clark bypassing and replacing the current elevated Addison and Sheridan stations. One alternative would be to put the Red Line in a new subway replacing the current Sheridan and Addison elevated stations, adding a transfer station at Belmont, and continuing south along Clark into the Loop. The Purple line would be rerouted to 95th and serve the current Addison and other intermediate Red Line stations. Another alternative would be to extend the Metra Electric/CTA Gray Line in a subway up the lakefront to Lawrence and west to Jefferson Park.

  • In reply to Harvey Kahler:

    Do you have a source for the $6 billion for that? It is questionable whether CTA even has a source for the $1.3 billion for this phase of the RPM, and also questionable whether anyone is going to build a subway between the Belmont and Wilson elevated stops, the first one of which still has a 30 year FTA service life and the second of which will have a 40 year service life once it is opened.

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    In reply to ApresSki:

    The rotting ties under the rails at Sheridan are being replaced.

  • Sheridan is included, just not in this phase. Think of all the expensive land to be bought to straighten or ease the sharp curves.

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    Thanks, Kevin. I was also wondering about the Sheridan stop. I live nearby and am hoping for an elevator as I am getting older and older and older!!!!!

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    The billion-dollar question is why are four tracks needed north of Belmont for a peak-only express service? If ridership is expected to grow, wouldn't six tracks, and a new subway, be needed for capacity from Belmont south? Where would it go? BTW, the "Circle Line" only went to North or Division and would not be a functional solution.

  • In reply to Harvey Kahler:

    Once the new Wilson station is complete, it's believed that the Purple Express will start running all day long.
    Especially after Loyola is also replace with a two platform station, which is supposed to happen at some point.

  • Why not start by rebuilding the section from Loyola to Bryn Mawr, so that the worn out Granville crossovers are replaced & the collapsing bridges over Sheridan & Rosemont are also replaced, the same way the ones in Evanston were done over a 3 day weekend?

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I think the problem there is they haven't decided what is to be done between Ardmore and Rogers, as well as a source of another $2 billion to do it.

    On the other hand, when there were 4 alternatives, all of them said that they weren't going to do anything about the Evanston embankment, so they put in the new bridges.

    Finally, there is the question whether any of "Governor Quinn's [personal] Build Illinois" money, which went into the couple of viaducts in Evanston, still exists.

  • Were they able to squeeze roofs for the platforms into their multi-billion dollar budget this time, or are they going with partial roofs again? And if partial roofs, have they figure out yet that it makes more sense for the roof part to connect to the stairs where people come up to the platform?

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