UPTOWN — The Red and Purple lines are getting major upgrades, but that’s coming with a drawback: The Red Line’s Lawrence and Berwyn stations will be shut down for three years.
The stations, Lawrence at 1117 W. Lawrence Ave. and Berwyn at 1121 W. Berwyn Ave., could close in late 2020 or early 2021 and aren’t expected to re-open until 2024, said CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase.
The closures are needed as part of the $2.1 billion Red-Purple Line Modernization project.
The Argyle and Bryn Mawr stations will be closed for upgrades during that time, too, but the CTA will have temporary stations to replace those. When the four stations re-open in 2024, they’ll be updated and 100 percent accessible.
The CTA had already announced the stations would be closed for years, but it wasn’t until this week the agency confirmed they’d close in the winter of 2020-2021.
Besides the stations being reconstructed, the CTA will also work on 6 miles of track that’s nearly a century old, Chase said.
The Red-Purple Line Modernization project is scheduled to be finished in 2025. Once it’s done, there will be a new signal system installed along 23 miles of track and a rail bypass just north of the Belmont station to “improve service reliability” for the Red, Purple and Brown lines, Chase said. The CTA hopes that can lead to less overcrowding on the lines and lead to faster trains.
The CTA has been meeting with residents and small business owners near the four affected stations.
“We felt it was important to go to the community now, introduce the contractor and take questions and feedback from the community on what they want to know about the project and their concerns about construction impacts,” Chase said.
At the Lawrence stop Friday, commuters said the upgrades are needed.
Rita Johnson of Uptown said she has to lug a stroller up stairs to get to the platform, so she’s looking forward to an elevator.
“Who wants to keep carrying strollers up and down?” she said.
Ray Purdis lives in Old Town but works in Uptown as a drug treatment counselor. He takes the Red Line to Lawrence every day but doesn’t think the closures will be more than a minor inconvenience.
“I’ll just have to catch the slower buses and get off on Wilson,” he said
But he’s happy about the repairs — and upgraded surveillance cameras — despite the inconvenience.
“I’d rather it be fixed up and updated,” he said.
Michael Thomas of Ravenswood said he wants to reserve judgment until he sees the plans. But he thinks the work is needed.
“It definitely could use some repairs and updates,” he said.
Ald. James Cappleman’s office said it’s well-versed in working with residents and businesses impacted by the closures. The 46th Ward recently survived the longtime closure of the Wilson Red Line stop.
During that project, a campaign called “Open For Business” included monthly meetings with businesses to address problems and putting up signs promoting the nearby businesses at the construction site and at nearby CTA stations.
“We will continue using the Open for Business campaign, which proved very successful during the Wilson project, during the Lawrence Station project,” Cappleman’s office said. “The 46th Ward office is committed to making this exciting improvement project go smoothly for everyone in the ward.”
Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) acknowledged the project “is going to have a significant impact on residents and businesses.”
He’s working with the local chambers of commerce to develop a plan to support the businesses, he said. And he’s calling on residents to make a concerted effort to support the impacted stores.
“We are doing everything we can to support the small business community,” he said.
When it’s over, he said, “it will really help solidify our community. It will bring stability to our neighborhoods and hopefully increase CTA ridership.”
Jordan Reinhardt, manager of the recently opened Rewired Cafe at 1107 W. Berwyn Ave., said most of their customers so far are folks from the neighborhood.
“But it’s definitely something that is on our radar,” Reinhardt said. “We have been working closely with the alderman and Steep Theater next door to develop some new plans to bring in more business.”
Ted Bassett, who uses the Berwyn stop, said the new Wilson station is impressive. But now it’s time for his stop to shut down for a stretch. He’ll walk to the Argyle stop.
“Nothing I can do about it.”