CTA to begin major Purple Line track renewal project in May

Commuters wait for a Chicago-bound train at the Davis Street CTA station in April. Earlier this year, the CTA began its first major upgrade to the Purple Line in nearly four decades.

Daily file photo by Skylar Zhang

Commuters wait for a Chicago-bound train at the Davis Street CTA station in April. Earlier this year, the CTA began its first major upgrade to the Purple Line in nearly four decades.

Jia You, City Editor

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Starting in May, Evanston residents may hear some noises in their backyard at night as the Chicago Transit Authority makes upgrades to the Purple Line track for the first time in nearly 40 years.

The seven-month construction project will replace more than 6,000 aged track ties on the Purple Line, including shock-absorbing wooden beams under the tracks and metal ties going into the ground, said Matt Swentkofske, the city’s intergovernmental affairs coordinator.

“By doing this work, the trains will be able to travel at a faster speed in between stations,” Swentkofske said.

The project will speed up commuting for riders by alleviating more than 6,700 feet of “slow zones” along the Purple Line caused by aging track ties, where trains currently cannot safely travel above 25 mph, CTA spokeswoman Catherine Hosinski said. The renewal will cost $2 million, funded by state-issued bonds, Hosinski said.

Construction will begin on tracks at Howard and work south to Linden, Hosinski said. Construction will occur at night to ensure workers’ safety and minimize train disruptions, she said.

To reduce the impact on residents, the city has requested the CTA start the loudest part of construction early in the evening, Swentkofske said. Work will occur between 9 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The loudest noises will be similar to the sound of a jackhammer, according to the city. CTA will distribute flyers to residents in affected neighborhoods prior to construction.

Traffic may be slightly delayed at night when workers replace track ties on one track and leave the other for trains, Swentkofske said, adding that overall impact should be limited.

“More likely it’s going to be working as normally as can be when you are doing work,” he said.

Swentkofske said CTA approached the city early this year with plans to renew the track ties and presented detailed plans on Monday. Communication between the city and the CTA helped to bring a plan that would minimize impact on residents, he said.

“It’s the result of the good working relationship that the CTA and the city have put together,” he said. “Our leadership has worked very closely over the last four years to develop that relationship.”

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