CTA Begins Work on Next Phases of Red Purple Modernization Project Construction Near Campus

The Red line construction is set to be finished by 2025.

The first stage of construction on several portions of the CTA’s 26-mile Red Line has been completed as the CTA continues to modernize the infrastructure along the city’s most used transit route, with new projects slated for the coming years. 

The CTA and its contractors completed the first stage of the Lawrence to Bryn Mawr modernization project in July, which focuses on a 1.3 mile stretch of the Red Line running through the Uptown and Edgewater neighborhoods. They then began running trains on newly completed track structures. 

This project is a piece of the larger $2.1 million Red and Purple Modernization Project, which CTA officials said will improve transit service by increasing the capacity of trains and the frequency which they run, The Phoenix previously reported.

By demolishing and replacing the original track structures — which are over a century old and were originally built for freight rail service, not rapid transit — Stephanie Cavazos, a communications representative for the Red and Purple Modernization Project, said Red and Purple line trains have been traveling quicker through this portion of the line than they were before.

Almost immediately after service was switched over to the new tracks, the CTA began work on demolishing the western side of the old structures where trains had been running while work on the east side tracks was underway. 

Trains will keep running on the two easternmost tracks through 2025 when the project is completed. Then, normal service which utilizes all four tracks will return, according to Cavazos. The CTA reconfigured the temporary stations at Argyle and Bryn Mawr when the transition to the new eastside tracks occurred. 

When the project began in 2021, the CTA closed and demolished the Berwyn, Bryn Mawr, Lawrence and Argyle stations for reconstruction, The Phoenix previously reported. All four stations will reopen in 2025 after construction is complete. Each station will be more modern and will better align with federal accessibility standards upon reopening, according to Cavazos. 

Following the completion of the initial phase of the project, the temporary Argyle station was moved one block north with new entrances on West Winona Street and West Foster Avenue. The location of the station at Bryn Mawr hasn’t changed, however, only northbound Howard trains will make stops at the station until 2025. When the change first occurred, train operators recommended riders heading north on Howard trains get off one stop north at Thorndale and then board a southbound train back to Bryn Mawr. 

Cavazos said this change at Bryn Mawr was necessary as there wasn’t enough space with the existing adjacent buildings to construct a temporary platform that could accommodate southbound trains.

“We would have had to demolish several apartment buildings, several businesses to put a temporary platform that’s going to stay for, you know, two and half-ish years,” Cavazos said. “And, you know, we felt that that’s not fair to the community.”

Cavazos said preliminary work on the four new permanent stations will begin in 2024 while the west side tracks are scheduled to be completed by 2025. With the use of the newly completed eastside tracks, trains going both directions are now stopping at the east platform at Wilson, which is aligned with the completed infrastructure. Once all four tracks are completed, both platforms will be utilized. 

Similar improvements are being made to the corridor between the Belmont and Addison stations. Just as with the Lawrence to Bryn Mawr project, the CTA will be bringing new tracks between the two Lakeview neighborhood stations online and beginning the process of demolishing the other pair of tracks. 

As a result of the shiftover, service between the two stations will be interrupted on the weekends of Oct. 27-30 and Nov. 10-13. Trains will still run from 95th to Belmont and from Addison to Howard with shuttle bus service being put in place to bridge the gap, according to Cavazos. 

In addition, as part of the ongoing project, the entire signal system along the Red Line will be updated and upgraded allowing for more precision in the running of trains. Cavazos said the new signals will be fully up and running by 2025.

As the CTA looks ahead to what comes after the current projects, they are beginning to turn their attention towards Red and Purple Modernization Project Next Phases. This project, which is currently in early stages as the CTA is working to complete a study, would modernize the Red Line infrastructure that runs through the heart of Loyola’s campus, The Phoenix previously reported.

Cavazos said the CTA will be holding a meeting for riders who’s home station is Loyola to discuss what they would like to see from the project later this year. 

The project will encompass the stretch of tracks which stretch just over six miles from Thorndale all the way to the end of the Purple Line in Evanston. 

In September, the CTA announced it has received just under $2 billion in federal grant money to extend the Red Line an additional 5.6 miles to East 130rd Street on the city’s South Side. The project is set to get underway in 2025 with completion scheduled for 2029, according to Cavazos. 

Cavazos said the CTA will fund the rest of the extension’s $3.6 billion price tag from city of Chicago Tax Increment Financing funds, CTA grants and other sources to be announced later. 

The extension will bring the Red Line’s total length to over 31 miles, spanning nearly the entire length of the city. As of June, the Red Line was averaging 112,113 daily riders on all of its segments on weekdays in 2023, according to the CTA’s June Monthly Ridership Report.

Featured Image by Amber Cerpa | The Phoenix

Griffin Krueger

Griffin Krueger