The Morse Red Line station would be affected by the CTA’s plan. In the two Modernization scenarios, it would become accessible. Photo by Eric Rogers.
On Monday and Tuesday, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) held identical meetings about the Red & Purple Modernization Project it started planning (at least with the public) last year. According to the CTA’s website, the project “would help bring the existing transit line into a state of good repair, reduce travel times, improve access to job markets and destinations, and provide improved access to people with disabilities”. The project area is in two areas: on what’s called the North Side Main Line, the four tracks from Belmont to Howard, and on the Purple Line-only tracks from Howard to Linden in Wilmette, Illinois.
At the Modernization Project meetings, the first in Evanston, and the second in Edgewater, the CTA showed 4 alternatives instead of the 6 it had shown at the prior meetings. Three were eliminated and a new one was created. They are:
Four scenarios for the Red & Purple Lines
1. No action
In “alternatives analysis” planning, required for most projects that receive federal funding, this is always an option. It’s used as a baseline on which to compare the other alternatives. It explores what would happen if nothing was done and the CTA continued operated trains as it does now. This includes the absolute minimum repairs. The CTA has noted that many aspects of service would degrade: station amenities, track structure, and infrastructure longevity.
This alternative “provides a strategic mix of repairs, rehabilitation, and replacement for a useful life of 20 years, plus the addition of a transfer station at Loyola.” Additionally, “Based on the current condition of the viaducts, it is assumed that 11 viaducts would undergo minor repairs, 25 viaducts would undergo major repairs, and 22 viaducts would undergo reconstruction.”
Modernization means to provide ADA accessibility, wider platforms, and other modern amenities. Also included are lower travel times, the same new transfer station at Loyola, and a useful life of 60-80 years. It would also increase platform lengths at all stations, to accommodate 8 car trains on the Purple Line’s Evanston branch, and to 10 car trains on the Red Line portion of the project. New station entrances would be built. Five stations would be removed: Foster and South Boulevard on the Purple Line, and Jarvis, Thorndale, and Lawrence on the Red Line. Here’s a summary from CTA Tattler.
This alternative is the same as Modernization but keeps the five stations. CTA Tattler explains this version. The two modernization alternatives would likely make the steel track structure and earthen embankments look like the modern, concrete Orange Line viaduct (also seen on the Paulina Connector of the Pink Line). See page 23 of the Exhibit boards.
The latter three alternatives all require the CTA to acquire new right of way, which could mean it buys and demolishes property in order to build new or upgraded track, longer and wider platforms, and additional station entrances.
More reading on the Red & Purple project
From around the web
- A report from the Evanston meeting (Daily Northwestern) – One of the attendees says to the reporter that they disagree with closing down stations. The CTA has an interesting graphic (see below) in the Exhibit boards (page 20) about how station consolidation can increase train efficiency while keeping walking distance changes minimal because of additional station entrances.
- Vote for the alternative you prefer (CTA Tattler) – Right now, there are 56 votes, and 53% of votes are in favor of Modernization.
From the CTA’s website
- Project homepage
- Detailed descriptions of the alternatives, including a comparison table
- Exhibit boards (pdf)
- Handout from the meeting (pdf, has glossary)
This clever image posted on one of the Exhibit boards shows how walking times would be different with fewer stations on the line (in some cases better). Station consolidation means trains can make fewer stops, shortening travel times.
But the CTA plans to upgrade some stations beforehand
In a completely separate project, the CTA board approved a $57 million project to give seven Red Line stations a facelift:
Kevin Zolkiewicz, a Grid Chicago contributor, notes that Bryn Mawr is no longer in the project to get its own facelift, despite decrepit conditions. The station upgrades do not interfere with the Red & Purple Modernization Project because no timeline has been set for the huge undertaking. The CTA is only in the initial planning stages and will soon begin the environmental review process. This project is akin to the Brown Line Rehabilitation Project wherein planning prior to construction can take 5-10 years.
Speeding service to O’Hare and Midway airports
United is expanding its workforce in Chicago and Mayor Emanuel recently sat down with the CEO and several United employees. One of the topics was transit.
When a United employee argued that Chicago sorely needs an express train to O’Hare, Emanuel said the goal could probably be accomplished “over two horizons” — not one. (Chicago Sun-Times)
While “two horizons” sounds quite meaningless, Emanuel explained that he’s evaluating proposals that shave 12 minutes off travel time from the Loop to O’Hare and Midway. Many Chicagoans are aware of the canceled plans to build a “superstation” under Block 37, now a shopping mall on State Street between Randolph and Washington Streets. The Washington Red Line station, which had transfers to the Blue Line, closed as a result of the scrubbing.
This Orange Line on the Harrison Street s-curve may soon be zooming to Midway Airport. Photo by Jeff Zoline.
In addition to the superstation, former Mayor Daley appointed a panel and issued a request for information. As the Chicago Sun-Times reports, “It was not known whether the request was ever issued or, if so, what the interest level was.” Read the article to learn more about the history of speeding trains to the airports, and more on the conversations with the United workers – they, many of whom are new to Chicago, had ideas worth discussing, like charging different fares during rush hour.
There were no details on how the travel time savings would be achieved.
P.S. I wrote an article for Architect’s Newspaper in November 2011 about renovation of the Wilson Red Line station.