CTA to Make Community Enhancements as Part of Red and Purple Modernization Project

Written by Kyra Senese, Managing Editor
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Federal Transit Administration

The Chicago Transit Authority has announced a significant new addition to the $2.1 billion Red and Purple Modernization Phase One Project, which will create more than one mile of new open space beneath Red and Purple Line tracks in the Uptown and Edgewater neighborhoods.

The new community space will be created in late 2023 between West Lawrence and West Ardmore avenues by removing nearly all of the century-old embankment structure and walls.

By removing a physical barrier that has separated the community for more than 100 years, the Uptown and Edgewater neighborhoods will gain new areas that could be developed into parking and community spaces when the RPM Phase One Project is completed in 2025.

“This unique opportunity to create safe and accessible public spaces below the Red Line is another example of how CTA helps create destinations and focal points in the communities we serve,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “We look forward to working with the local community to generate ideas for new, viable areas and turning them into useful and appealing community spaces.”

To start the conversation about how to develop the space after the project is completed, CTA said the agency will hold community meetings to take a block-by-block look at the new space that will be available with the removal of the wall.

“The Red Purple Modernization Project will be transformative for our community,” said Alderman Harry Osterman, 48th Ward. “Activating the space underneath the tracks is an exciting opportunity for our community to add needed parking and community spaces. I appreciate the CTA’s leadership on this important project.”

The CTA will actively collaborate with the community through upcoming public meetings to create a vision for future open spaces along CTA tracks.

  • CTA will seek ideas from residents via public meetings and online surveys 
  • Some options could include parking and open-air community spaces 
  • CTA plans to install lighting under the new structure to increase resident safety 
  • Any future activation of space would take into consideration the ability of CTA to access its infrastructure for regular inspection and maintenance as needed 
  • Future development would be in the form of partnerships with local stakeholders 
  • CTA will provide funding to support this community renovation and base programming 

Walsh-Fluor Design Build Team, the CTA’s contractor, has already removed some of the existing wall to make way for new, fully accessible Red Line stations and other project elements.

The contractor is expected to start removing additional walls this year and continue through 2024, while also working on the new Red and Purple Line track structure reconstruction that is currently underway.

CTA continues to make significant progress on “Stage A” of RPM from Lawrence to Bryn Mawr. The northbound Red and Purple line track structures between Lawrence and Bryn Mawr will be rebuilt in Stage A, which will be completed later in 2023. 

CTA has completed construction of the new elevated track bridge and is currently installing new rail and other components in preparation for the opening of the new tracks at the end of Stage A work, a release said. 

Stage B, which will begin later this year, will rebuild the southbound Red and Purple Line track structures as well as construct four new, fully accessible Red Line stations at Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn, and Bryn Mawr. This spring, the CTA will provide an updated construction schedule and hold town hall meetings to discuss the work and its impact on CTA service.

In late spring 2023, CTA will hold community meetings to discuss how the embankment wall will be removed and how the contractor will approach the work to minimize community impacts. CTA will also solicit suggestions and questions about future activation of new open areas beneath the new elevated CTA tracks. The dates and locations of the meetings will be announced soon, CTA said. 

The CTA is also moving forward with “RPM Next Phases,” which will guide future reconstruction phases of the Red and Purple lines, as well as rail stations in Wilmette between Belmont and Linden.