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Uptown, Edgewater, Rogers Park

CTA Kicks Off Around-The-Clock Red Line Work In Uptown: ‘This Is Going To Be Massive Disruption’

One month of 24/7 work is required before heavy construction on the Red-Purple modernization project can begin, officials said.

Joe Ward/Block Club Chicago
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UPTOWN — Work to rebuild the north branch of the Red Line has entered an around-the-clock phase, which will last for a month and cause service disruptions in Uptown and Edgewater.

Crews for the CTA on Friday began the newest portion of the massive Red-Purple line modernization effort, a project that calls for the replacing of four existing stations and the rebuilding of century-old rail infrastructure between Lawrence and Bryn Mawr.

The latest work includes building new rail infrastructure to allow for service during future phases of the project. Rather than confine the heavy construction work to weekends, when ridership is down, the CTA will conduct the work over a four-week period of around-the-clock activity, city transit officials announced.

The new phase of 24/7 work started Friday and is scheduled to last through Aug. 16, with service disruptions planned throughout the duration, according to CTA. The work will produce overnight light, noise and dust disruptions, as well as rolling street and alley closures.

“This is going to be massive disruption,” said. Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) at a town hall about the project last week. “I don’t want to sugarcoat it. Together, we’re going to get through it.”

Service disruptions planned for the four-week duration are:

  • Monday-July 31: No northbound stops at Granville, Thorndale and Bryn Mawr stations.
  • Aug. 1-2: Stations closures at Granville, Thorndale and Bryn Mawr.
  • Aug. 3-14: No southbound stops at Granville, Thorndale and Bryn Mawr stations.
  • Aug. 15-16: Granville, Thorndale and Bryn Mawr stations closed, with free bus shuttle service between Loyola and Berwyn.

The CTA decided to conduct the work in a four-week period because the alternative would be to perform the project over one-third of all weekends in 2020, according to the transit agency.

“Work will be necessary around the clock,” Steve Hands, senior manager of the Red-Purple project for CTA, said at the town hall. “It does allow for fewer weekends to be impacted this year, less night work overall and less associated noise impacts.”

Credit: Joe Ward/Block Club Chicago
Work to overhaul the north branch of the Red and Purple lines has begun.

The track work is part of Phase 1 of the CTA’s $2 billion Red-Purple modernization project, which largely consists of preparatory work before new stations and tracks are built.

The next major portion of the project will be the construction of temporary stations at Argyle and Bryn Mawr. A former Toyota dealership was demolished this spring to make way for the temporary station at Bryn Mawr.

Work on the temporary stations will start next year, the transit agency said.

Eventually, new stations will replace old rail platforms at Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr. Design plans for the stations will be introduced to the public this year, transit officials said last week.

Red and Purple line service will be maintained throughout the project, with some disruptions. To keep trains running, CTA contractors will work to rebuild the eastern portion of the rail infrastructure this year and next, and focus on the western portion in 2022-2024.

Work is set to wrap up in 2024.

The project is likely to have a major impact on businesses that neighbor the Red and Purple lines. At least one business has already left its Bryn Mawr Avenue storefront for a new place in Andersonville.

CTA officials have a plan to help the area’s businesses. That includes new signs and marketing campaigns for the impacted areas.

A new web “portal” to highlight local businesses and events will be introduced, according to the CTA. The transit agency’s contractor, Walsh-Fluor, is opening a project site office at 5960 N. Broadway, and a community outreach office will open near Broadway and Foster Avenue.

Ald. James Cappleman (46th) said the recent rebuilding of the Wilson station gives city officials a case study in how to minimize the project’s impact. It also shows how transformational new rail infrastructure can be.

“It was rough at times because construction projects are never fun,” Cappleman said. “The good news is, we learned so much about what it takes to rehab an L [stop]. We’re going to use that knowledge to help with this process.”

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