Chicago, IL

Red-Line Upgrades to Chicago

Jeffrey Johnson

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The Chicago Red Line is one of the most popular modes of transportation in the center. It connects the very northern tip of Chicago with it's southern neighbors and runs 24 hours a day. It is currently under construction for several upgrades collectively known as the CTA Red Ahead Program. Over the span of several years, this program will enhance the entire Red Line by way of laying new track and upgrading several existing stations.

One aspect of this program is known as the Red Line Extension Project. As of writing the most southern stop on the Red Line is 95th street but the Extension Project is set to add another 5.6-mile extension which would create four new stations reaching all the way to 130th street.

Most recently, in 2019, the Chicago Transit Authority unveiled a newly remodeled 95th/Dan Ryan stop. In addition to cleaner, brighter spaces with better lighting and open layout, some of the more unique features of this stop include a DJ booth featuring local artists. The DJ space is both art and working radio station called An Extended Song of Our People (AESOP). The 200 square foot space provides riders in the North Terminal with real-time programming for announcing live events and an on-site DJ.

On the northern side of the red line, a project known as the Red-Purple Modernization Program. Construction is well underway for major reconstruction of the red line's relationship to the purple line between Fullerton and Wilson. This portion of the Red Ahead Program is divided into two phases.

One phase is for the red-purple bypass project which will help untangle a jumble of track shard by three rail lines. According to the CTA website, "The bypass will allow the CTA to add train service as ridership grows to eliminate delays where the Red, Purple and Brown lines all intersect and trains must stand and wait for other trains to pass." This ambitious project requires the construction of new pillars that will literally raise brown line trains into the air and over incoming purple and red line trains.

The remaining phase of the Red-Purple Modernization Program includes the complete rebuild of four stations: Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr. For now, these four stations are permanently shut down but temporary stations can be found along Broadway. The new stations are expected to be up and running by the end of 2024.

The entire Red-Purple Modernization Program was initiated becuase elements from both phases, the tracks and the stations, had all reached the end of their life span. One of the main goals for this project is to bring the rails into a good state of repair to last a further 60-80 years. The entire Red-Purple Modernization Program is scheduled to be completed by 2025.

While it might seem another 4 years of construction is a big commitment, consider the Red Ahead Program has been in the works for nearly 10 years already. The Loyola station was renovated in 2013 by stabilizing existing infrastructure, upgrading the existing station and adding a new passenger plaza. In February of 2018 the Wilson stopped officials reopened after a $203 million Reconstruction Project which modernized a nearly 100 year old station with cramp space and poor lighting to its opposite: a big open-air stop with lots of natural light and well lit stairs.

Even though the CTA is far from perfect, as you can see it's always improving. The CTA offers an affordable, more environmentally friendly way to remain mobile. If you do not enjoy fighting traffic or driving in bad weather, it is a great way to get around Chicago.

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Jeffrey has been a freelance writer for nearly 10 years and enjoys reading and writing about a range of topics from technology to philosophy. Currently living in Chicago, IL, Jeffrey works as a professional web designer and marketing professional. He enjoys the midwest winters, spending time with close friends, and programming.

Chicago, IL
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