Reporting Bob Roberts
CHICAGO (WBBM) – Now that the CTA has rebuilt the Green, Pink, Blue, Orange and Brown Lines, the focus is shifting to the Purple Line — if the state comes through with the promised money.
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The Purple Line runs from the Howard station in Chicago, through Evanston to the Linden station in Wilmette.
CTA has formally added replacement of the century-old bridges at Dempster, Greenleaf and Grove Streets and rehabilitation of the adjacent embankment.
It couldn’t come soon enough for Evanston Alderman Melissa Wynne, who says that many shoppers fear walking beneath the crumbling viaducts.
“Many shoppers are unwilling to walk beneath the CTA viaduct at Dempster Street to businesses on the other side because they see it as old and unsafe,” Wynne said. “Is it CTA’s responsibility to encourage people to walk to the west Dempster businesses? No. Is this a justified, logical view of the viaducts? No. But the viaducts are an impediment in our everyday reality.”
CTA Chief Infrastructure Officer Chris Buechele is just as eager to get the work under way, but said one problem exists. No one knows when the promised money from the state will come through.
“We really need to get some clarity on when the money will show up before we start communicating in terms of what the likely customer impacts are,” he said.
When rebuilding CTA two other bridges on the Purple Line, at Main Street and at Church Street, the bridge was assembled a couple of hundred feet from the structure it was to replace, with work done in advance on the new concrete footings.
Then service was halted on a Friday evening, the old bridge demolished and the new bridge put into place over a single weekend. Service was restored in both cases before the Monday morning rush hour.
The Purple Line was elevated from ground level to its current state in two steps, between Howard Street and University Place in 1910, and from University Place to just south of Isabella Street in 1930.