CTA Construction Plans Include Improving Loyola Red Line Stop

The Next Phases Planning Study is a part of the CTA’s ongoing Red and Purple Modernization project.

The CTA initiated potential plans to improve the Loyola Red Line stop through the Red and Purple Modernization Next Phases Study. The purpose of the study is to plan updates for the northern Red and Purple lines of the L, focusing on the segments from Addison to Sheridan, Thorndale to Howard and the Evanston Branch from Howard to Linden, according to CTA’s website.

As the largest capital improvement project in CTA history, costing $2.1 billion in federal and local funding, RPM Phase One is currently under construction and expected to be completed in 2025, according to the presentation deck from a Feb. 1 public outreach meeting. 

Station and track reconstruction is underway at Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn, Bryn Mawr and at tracks north of Belmont station. A Red-Purple Bypass was completed at Belmont station in 2021.

In preliminary work, the Loyola stop was identified as a station for modernization in a future phase of RPM, according to CTA spokesperson Stephanie Cavazos. Cavazos wrote in an email to The Phoenix that the CTA is studying the possibility of the Loyola station being a transfer station between the Red Line and the Purple Express Line. 

The Loyola station has the highest ridership north of Addison with no Purple Line access, according to the presentation deck.

Since the Loyola station is built on a curve, the RPM project expects to potentially straighten and simplify the platform to increase visibility for customers and operators and to create smaller gaps between the platform and the train car, according to the presentation deck. 

In future phases of the modernization plan, the CTA also intends to enable train access in both directions rather than access that differs by direction of travel, according to the presentation deck. The platform would be lengthened to accommodate 10-car trains and widened to increase accessibility and customer comfort, according to the presentation deck. 

Though they are still studying potential issues, the CTA expects to be constrained by the dense urban area and neighborhoods surrounding Loyola station when making construction plans.

The CTA has begun early outreach in public meetings held in November and February to discuss potential stations and track structures that would be rebuilt in future phases of the RPM project, according to Cavazos. There is currently no funding for future phases of the RPM project since groundbreakings are still several years away. 

The RPM Next Phases Planning Study began in 2021 and is scheduled for completion in 2024, according to the RPM Frequently-Asked-Questions document. The document said the initial planning for RPM began in 2009, but Phase One didn’t start construction until 2019. The CTA expects a similar timeline for the RPM’s next phases.

Cavazos said there are multiple steps before construction can begin, including environmental impact reviews, design, engineering and securing funding. She said public outreach will continue for several years before a final plan is established.

“CTA’s approach to improvements for the entire RPM corridor includes improving speed and reliability, adding accessibility, expanding capacity and improving customer experience,” Cavazos wrote in an email to The Phoenix.

The RPM process combines technical analysis and public engagement to fuse CTA, rider and community goals and objectives of future phases of construction. In the Next Phases Planning Study, CTA will identify specific constraints of project elements and work to overcome them, according to the presentation deck. 

In the 2010 RPM Vision Study, the CTA established goals to expand capacity, improve reliability and accessibility, build modern facilities, support economic and community development, and improve customer experience, according to the presentation deck.

Featured image by Leslie Meraz / The Phoenix

Julia Pentasuglio

Julia Pentasuglio