CTA Applies for Federal Grant to Fund Red-Purple Modernization

New cars north out of Belmont
Two of three options for the Red-Purple Modernization project would build a flyover at Clark/Roscoe so the Brown and Red Lines can avoid congestion. Photo: hedgehog3457

In a great example of President Obama’s “fix it first” strategy (improving existing infrastructure before building new), the Federal Transit Administration is changing one of its rules to allow the Chicago Transit Authority to apply for a large grant to help fund the $2-4 billion Red-Purple Modernization project.

RPM would significantly upgrade some of CTA’s oldest infrastructure — the elevated track and embankment from the Belmont Red/Brown Lines station in Chicago to the Linden Purple Line station in Wilmette.

Previously, the FTA’s “New Starts, Small Starts” program was for cities and transit agencies to build new or extended lines, but it was modified in the latest surface transportation bill, MAP-21, to include a “Core Capacity” program authored by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin.

The Core Capacity program is for transit corridors operating at or above capacity — or projected to operate at or above capacity within five years. The improvements must increase capacity by at least 10 precent. CTA’s initial planning has produced three options, one of which is mostly about rehabilitation, while the other two would do more by widening and extending platforms and increasing train speeds.

“This step means that the Red and Purple Modernization project has entered into the FTA’s approval process,” said CTA spokesperson Tammy Chase. The agency can now finish the environmental review and move on to engineering. The CTA is the first applicant for Core Capacity funds and RPM is part of the larger “Red Ahead” program to transform the Red Line by rebuilding the Dan Ryan branch (check), extending it to 130th Street (environmental review due in 2014), rebuilding Wilson as a transfer station (construction slated for 2014), and renovating Clark/Division (in progress).

  • david vartanoff

    Great! Now we can have the real discussion about what the 21st century version should be. Clark Junction(Red/Brown/Purple) regularly causes delays and needs a solution. Ditto the obsolete curves @ Sheridan Road. In the longer term, given the west of the river development CTA needs to think about rerouting the Purple Line south of Wellington. Think Daniel Burnham…no small plans.
    As to enlarging platforms, unless there is room at the recently redone Fullerton and Belmont stations, it is pointless in my view much as I prefer longer platforms allowing greater ridership per train.

  • hello

    Modernization plan looks the best! (remove 5 stations)

    My station will be removed, but the next one isn’t too far and the improvement in efficiency for other riders will certainly be welcomed.

  • Roland Solinski

    Fullerton and Belmont can have their platforms extended easily – they were designed with this in mind. Apparently the State St subway can also berth 10-car trains, but just barely.

    I’m not sure about the Dan Ryan stations but it wouldn’t surprise me if CTA laid out the new tracks to allow for platform extensions in the future.

  • david vartanoff

    Station removal is inherently a bad plan IMHO. Having both local and express service is far more useful for riders. The Red/Brown/Purple lines have the potential tobe much improved by strategic location of a very few new express stations. Some of us, of course, remember the A/B skip stop service back when the time from Howard to the Loop was 10 minutes faster than either a Red or Purple train today. It is worth noting that CTA set a record of 76 MPH on the express tracks near Jarvis in the early 60s. When the track/structures have been rehabbed, service SHOULD be much faster than now without eliminating service to any neighborhood.

  • Alex

    Modernization without consolidation looks the best to me. The basic rehabilitation second. Either way I vote for NOT removing any stations.

  • 76 MPH? Oh my, riding on the Purple Express now feels uncomfortably fast! Same goes for the Green west of the Loop.

  • Joseph Musco

    That Sheridan curve really slows things down. I wonder if you could run the Red Line straight down Seminary onto Clark angling down to the current line just N of Belmont? It’s tough problem to fix and really constrains speeds.

  • Alex

    Ok, I’ve decided I would be okay with the CTA removing those stations. It would create a bit of a walk for tens of thousands of people and cause the nearby stations and bus routes to become even more crowded but those shorter ride times sure would be nice. Whether they remove the stations or not, that line seriously needs to be updated. The time saved will be nice and I lool forward to the longer and wider platforms, which will be a must for accommodating the new influx of passengers from the closed stations.

  • Removing stations is a very sketch situation. When stations are gone, they rarely ever come back. The Morgan station “returned” (was built anew) after decades. The Green Line branch to Jackson Park was demolished east of Cottage Grove. Countless stations have been removed around the region.

  • It appears that some room was built into the ends of the platforms of Belmont and Fullerton stations to receive 10-car trains.

    You can see it here: http://goo.gl/maps/aCz1W