CTA presents options for Red, Purple Line modernization plans

Jia You

The Chicago Transit Authority hosted an open house Monday at the Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Ave., to present updates on the North Red and Purple Modernization Project and gather feedback from local residents.

The project aims to repair aging infrastructures and reconstruct stations and structures along the two rail lines. The Red and Purple Lines, both built around 100 years ago, suffer from deteriorating drainage and concrete structures that present safety risks and create “slow zones” where trains must decrease their speed due to old tracks.

“The result for folks who live in Evanston will be revised stations, updated track and structures throughout Evanston,” said Michael Connelly, vice president of service planning and scheduling. “It will improve the quality of service to be smoother and faster.”

The open house presented four possible plans based on public feedback gathered in early 2011.

The first option, dubbed “No Action,” would maintain the status quo and include only the repairs deemed absolutely necessary. It was meant to serve as a baseline for studies, Connelly said.

The second option, “Basic Rehabilitation,” includes some basic fixes that would extend the lifespan of the tracks by 20 years and would add a transfer station for the Purple Line at Loyola.

The third option, “Modernization,” would provide new amenities and wider platforms at the stations and extend their useful life anywhere from 60 to 80 years. This plan would include the Loyola transfer station and also improve speed by closing some stations in areas with many consolidated stops.

The last option, “Moderization Without Consolidation,” would include all of the modernization improvements but would not close down any stations. This option was added by the CTA after public feedback at meetings last year.

The Modernization option would cost upward of $4 billion, with funds mainly drawn from federal and state budgets, Connelly said.

Connelly added he expects the process will take a long time from start to finish. He pointed to a modernization program for the Brown Line that was originally envisioned in 1998 but was completed more than a decade later in 2009.

“It takes a couple of years to talk through this in part because what’s encouraged is exactly what we are doing, which is dialogue with the public,” Connelly said.

Meanwhile, CTA would move forward with interim improvements, such as viaduct improvements in Evanston on Greenleaf Street and Dempster Street, he added.

“We want to be enterprising and try to pick off little pieces of this as we go along,” he said.

Amy Dykema (Kellogg ‘92), who attended the public meeting, said she supports reconstruction but opposes closing down stations.

“It would be detrimental to a lot of residents and businesses,” said Dykema, who lives near South Boulevard, a station that would close down in the Modernization plan. “There are a lot of older people in the neighborhood and it would be a deterrent to them”

There will be another meeting this summer to gather more feedback on the project, and a detailed report will be issued in early 2013, Connelly said.

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Editor’s note: This article incorrectly stated who added one of the options. The article has been changed to reflect the correction. The Daily regrets the error.