UPTOWN — Four Red Line stations set to replace century-old rail infrastructure on the Far North Side will have modern and fully accessible features and will include design elements from the nearby neighborhoods, according to renderings released Thursday.
The schematics provide a first look at the new stations the CTA plans to build at Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr as part of its $2.1 billion Red-Purple Modernization project.
Work on the new stations will begin in earnest this spring when the existing stations are set to be demolished, CTA officials said in a news release. Crews have already begun to work on temporary stations at Argyle and Bryn Mawr that will allow for continued ‘L’ service while the new stations are being built.
The new stations will replace ones built in the early 1900s, and will elevate the stations from dingy, dimly lit structures to ones with more natural light, streamlined design and greater accessibility, city officials said.
New stations will be larger than the existing ones with wider platforms and will include elevators and escalators.
An emphasis has been placed on more natural lighting and cleaner site lines, CTA Spokesperson Tammy Chase said. Such improvements will aid aesthetics but also the safety of Red/Purple stations, she said.
Station design will take cues from the surrounding neighborhood, drawing inspiration from Asia on Argyle and the Bryn Mawr Historic District.
The new Argyle station will include Asian design elements that will connect with the area’s relatively new pedestrian zone. New signage will also be erected at the stations that draws on the area’s identity, Chase said.
“We made sure that we created a station that caters to the neighborhood,” she said.
Bryn Mawr’s new station will include glazed terra cotta facade that is meant to complement the historic retail businesses on the corridor. The station will also include a new entrance on Hollywood Avenue, according to the CTA.
Art at the existing stations will be salvaged and reinstalled in the new ones, and the community will have an opportunity to help select new artwork for the sites, Chase said.
Currently, the stations being replaced have support columns in the street, which crowd the thoroughfares and make stations feel more cavernous. New building techniques allow for much of the support columns to be removed from the street in the new station construction, Chase said.
Though work on the Red/Purple project has been ongoing for a year, the shift to the station demolition and rebuild signals a new phase of the project — one that will be more disruptive than earlier work.
“The public release of these new station designs represents a significant step forward in this project,” Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) said in a statement. “As CTA riders and local residents prepare for the needed construction ahead, these designs reflect the clean, safe, ADA accessible, and open stations that will serve our community well into the future.
The four existing stations will begin demolition this spring, though an exact date is to be determined. CTA will host community meetings in early March to update neighbors on the construction timeline and CTA service changes.
To conduct the work, CTA will shut down the northbound Red and Purple Line tracks between Lawrence and Bryn Mawr. The northbound tracks will be closed for two years as the rail infrastructure and stations are built.
One the northbound tracks are complete, the southbound tracks will go out of commission for another two years. Service will continue throughout, with northbound trains operating on the southbound rails for the time being, according to CTA.
The rail infrastructure must be rebuilt before the stations, which encompass the rails, can be completed, Chase said.
The temporary stations at Argyle and Bryn Mawr will be opened by the time the four existing stations are demolished. The new stations are expected to be unveiled in 2024, CTA said.
Though the years-long work will cause headaches for neighbors and businesses, the finished product will be of great benefit not just to North Side L riders, but to the city as a whole, officials said.
“CTA is going to play a pivotal role in Chicago’s recovery from COVID-19, and Red and Purple Modernization offers a blueprint on how to best accomplish our goals moving forward,” Ald. James Cappleman (46th) said.
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