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Lakeview, Wrigleyville, Northalsted

Brown Line’s Flyover At Belmont Begins Service Friday Morning

Brown Line trains will now completely circumvent the Red and Purple line tracks in Lakeview by following a new set of tracks that go over the other two lines.

The CTA's Red-Purple Bypass, which will allow Brown Line trains to go over the Red and Purple line tracks in Lakeview, goes into service Friday morning.
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LAKEVIEW — The flyover bypass that will let Brown Line trains more efficiently pass the Red and Purple line tracks in Lakeview is finished and will begin service early Friday.

The Red-Purple Bypass will go into service on the Brown Line 4 a.m. Friday, eliminating a 114-year-old rail junction between the Red, Purple and Brown lines that had become a chokepoint for rail service, according to the Chicago Transit Authority.

The bypass will improve service on the three train lines by allowing the Brown Line trains to pass over the Red and Purple line tracks, rather than crossing in front of them, according to the CTA. Previously, trains on the three lines regularly had to stop and wait for each other to cross the junction.

The bypass allows the CTA to add more trains during its busiest commute periods and benefits the community with noise-reduction walls and lighting and street pavers to improve ground-level aesthetics, according the CTA.

The Red-Purple Bypass’ completion marks the first major improvement from the CTA’s $2.1 billion Red and Purple Modernization project, which is in Phase 1 . It’s also the first section of track added to the CTA system in 28 years.

Now that the bypass is finished, the CTA will begin demolishing, rebuilding and realigning the 100-year-old Red and Purple line tracks between Belmont and West Cornelia Avenue, which contain a curve that slows train speeds.

“I am pleased to be able to deliver on our promise of more reliable service to CTA rail customers,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter Jr. “We are continuing to work hard on modernizing the Red Line through remaining [Red and Purple Modernization] work now in progress, as well as continuing to pursue funding for the new Red Line Extension Project.”

Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
The Red-Purple bypass will allow Northbound Brown Line trains to completely avoid the Red and Purple line tracks by creating a bridge just north of the Belmont CTA station.

Phase 1 of the Red and Purple Modernization project includes three major components, including the Red-Purple Bypass, which began work in October 2019.

The project includes reconstructing the Red Line’s Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr stations so they’re larger and 100 percent accessible, according to the CTA. That work began this spring and should be finished by the end of 2024.

For the last major component of Phase 1, the CTA will install a new signal system on 23 miles of track between the Howard and Belmont stops, which will improve train flow and service reliability, according to the CTA.

More information on the Red and Purple Modernization project can be found on the CTA’s website.

Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
Steel framework for the Red-Purple Bypass was installed in November 2020.

Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.

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