CTA Outlines Next Steps in Construction to Modernize Red and Purple Lines

One of the main areas of focus is the section of the Red Line from the Thorndale to Howard stations which runs through Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus and surrounding communities.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) outlined its preliminary goals for the next phase of its ongoing efforts to update aspects of the Red and Purple train lines March 14 during a virtual public meeting. One of the main areas of focus is the section of the Red Line from the Thorndale to Howard stations which runs through Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus and surrounding communities. 

The second phase of the Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) Project will focus on three segments of the Red and Purple lines on the north side and north suburbs of Chicago. Planners and officials said during the meeting they are focused on making stations better adhere to accessibility standards and updating signal systems that are decades old. 

The CTA is currently completing work reconstructing track structures and stations on the portion of the Red Line which runs through the Uptown and Edgewater neighborhoods. This phase of construction, which will bring four new fully accessible stations, is set to be completed in 2025, The Phoenix previously reported

In launching the “next phases planning study,” officials said during the meeting progress on the next segments of the line can begin soon after current construction is completed. 

During the meeting, emphasis was placed on the Sheridan Red Line station in Lakeview East, which is over 120 years old and lacks wheelchair accessibility. 

Christina Bader, project manager at CTA, said the station will have to be completely reconstructed. The current location of the station, which is nestled closely between buildings, could pose a challenge for planners as the CTA only owns the land where the current station stands. 

“There’s both old and new development that makes streaming the curve challenging,” Bader said during the meeting. “We’re looking at all options here, which include station location.”

The next phase in the RPM Project is included in the CTA’s broader Red Ahead initiative, a program to improve Red Line service. So far, as part of Red Ahead, the CTA has reconstructed the Wilson station and has completed the Red-Purple bypass north of the Belmont Station, which clears a bottleneck created by converging Red and Brown Line trains. 

Also on the docket is the Red Line extension, which will extend the Red Line to East 130th Street, adding an additional 5.6 miles and four new stations to the line on the city’s South Side.

As part of phase one construction, the Lawrence and Berwyn Red Line stations in Edgewater were closed until 2025. The extent of improvements which will be carried out on Rogers Park stations haven’t been finalized and whether any stations will need to be closed for extended periods of time remains unclear.

Another focus in the study is identifying ways to improve the Howard Street Terminal and railyard to cut down on congestion and delays, Bader said. The CTA also hopes to increase the available capacity on trains by eventually having all stations allow for 10-car Red Line trains and eight-car Purple Line trains. Currently, Red Line trains run with eight cars and Purple Line trains run with six cars.

One of the goals in completing the study is to devise a plan which will qualify for federal funding. Without grants from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), work on improving the train lines will be unable to go ahead. CTA officials said during the meeting they are aiming for a Core Capacity Grant, to qualify the proposed improvements must increase passenger capacity by at least 10%, according to the FTA website.

The CTA is collecting feedback from riders on improvements they’d like to see as the project continues in an online survey accessible here.

Featured image by Holden Green

Griffin Krueger

Griffin Krueger