October 2, 2019

Mayor Lightfoot, CTA Break Ground on Historic Red and Purple Line Modernization (RPM) Project

CTA begins Phase One of RPM with construction of new Red-Purple Bypass north of Belmont station to replace 119-year-old rail structure; Historic modernization project will create more than 100 construction-related jobs annually
Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

CHICAGO – Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. today broke ground on Phase One of the Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) Project. The largest reconstruction project in the agency's history, CTA's RPM Phase One project is designed to modernize and replace century-old rail structures and stations, effectively improving the reliability, comfort and convenience of CTA service for decades to come. Today's groundbreaking is the latest project to modernize the Red Line, CTA’s busiest line that serves more than 30% of all rail customers.

“Today is a historic day for Chicago transit as we begin the largest project in CTA history to modernize CTA rail service for the next century and rebuild the Red Line, the CTA’s busiest line,” said Mayor Lightfoot. "Public transit is the great connector of our city — and with this monumental project, we are building on our obligation to ensure Chicago’s transportation network is accessible, reliable and affordable for all residents of this city so that our neighborhoods and communities are connected to jobs, education and opportunity."

As part of today's groundbreaking, CTA is beginning construction on the new Red-Purple Bypass to unclog a 100-year-old junction where Red, Purple and Brown Line trains currently intersect. A major component of RPM Phase One, the Bypass construction will also rebuild four Red Line stations and century-old rail structure between the Lawrence and Bryn Mawr Red Line stations.

“CTA customers will see a significant improvement in service with increased accessibility to rail service, less crowding on trains and rail platforms and shorter commute times,” said CTA President Dorval Carter. “The benefits of this project extend beyond riders of the Red Line to Chicago’s neighborhoods and small businesses across the city through training, job and contract opportunities that will be a model for future CTA projects like the Red Line Extension.”

Work performed as part of the $2.1 billion RPM Phase One project will make commuting better for all CTA riders with improved service and modern rail stations that are fully accessible to people with disabilities. All RPM Phase One work will be completed in 2025.

“Chicago’s future depends on our ability to improve our existing infrastructure to meet new demands. The Red-Purple Line Modernization Program will do just that by ensuring the CTA's aging infrastructure can keep pace with the growing demand for its services,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin. “Senator Duckworth and I will continue to fight for federal funding to invest in Chicago's transportation infrastructure in order to create jobs, revitalize neighborhoods, and strengthen our local economy.”

Rebuilding all Red and Purple Line track structures and stations from Belmont to Linden in Wilmette, the RPM Phase One Project includes three major components:

  • New Red-Purple Bypass construction (expected completion by the end of 2021), followed by the reconstruction of Red and Purple line track structure between Belmont and Newport/Cornelia (expected completion by the end of 2024).
  • Reconstruction of the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr Red Line stations into larger, 100% accessible stations and replacement of track structure totaling six track-miles that is nearly a century old. Major track and station reconstruction will begin in late 2020-early 2021 and are expected to be substantially completed by the end of 2024.
  • Installation of a new signal system on 23 track miles between Howard and Belmont that, similar to roadway traffic signals, will improve train flow and service reliability.

“The ‘L’ is a critical part of Chicago life, enabling thousands of people to get to work, school, and around the city every day. CTA’s Red Purple Modernization project will target the lines most in need of updating and ensure that the ‘L’ remains a reliable transportation option for all Chicagoans,” said U.S. Representative Mike Quigley. “The benefits of this project will not only improve the lives of those who use the ‘L’ every day but also bring benefits to every community, small business, and resident around the city.”

This fall, CTA’s contractor, Walsh-Fluor Design-Build Team, will begin constructing new track structure foundations in the Lakeview community for the bypass bridge that will allow Kimball-bound (northbound) Brown Line trains to cross over north- and southbound Red and Purple Line tracks just north of Belmont station. This will replace the current Clark Junction, built-in 1907 to connect what was then the Ravenswood Line (today called the Brown Line) to the Red and Purple lines, which began rail service in 1900.

“The Red and Purple lines are vital connections for the residents of my district, both in Chicago and the Northern Suburbs,” said U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky. “This historic $1 billion dollar investment in our infrastructure will create hundreds of jobs for people in the Chicagoland area. Upon completion, this project will allow more frequent train service, less crowded trains, and make stations fully ADA accessible.”

The project will be an economic engine for development for neighborhoods in the project corridor and throughout the City of Chicago. RPM has already created 1,400 jobs and is expected to create hundreds of construction jobs annually. In this project and others, CTA has demonstrated its firm commitment to connecting training and career opportunities with a diverse and inclusive workforce.

“The project benefits extend beyond just the 44th Ward, providing faster, more reliable transportation to all communities as well as creating career and small business opportunities across Chicago,” said 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney.

“Today marks the first step in a longterm critical investment that will represent the future of Chicago transit,” said 21st Ward Alderman Howard Brookins, chair of the Committee on Transportation and Public Way.

CTA's Red Line provides more than 200,000 rides on average each weekday and more than 70 million rides a year, serving some of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the nation. 

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