Red, Purple Line Upgrades May Mean Cutting Stops

Updated 01/25/11 – 5:01 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Five CTA ‘L’ stops between the Uptown neighborhood and Evanston may be eliminated under a new plan to modernize the Red and Purple lines, and replaced with additional entrances at existing stations.

The CTA is exploring several plans to update the lines between Lakeview and Wilmette, and three of the six plans under discussion involve “consolidating” stops and building new entrances.

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Two of the plans call for downgrading Purple Line express and Red Line local service by maintaining three or four tracks. These plans also call for eliminating the Lawrence, Thorndale and Jarvis stops on the Red Line, and the South Boulevard and Foster stops on the Purple Line.

In their place, new entrances would be added to other existing stations – including an Ainslie Street entrance at the Argyle stop, a Hollywood Avenue entrance at the Bryn Mawr stop, an entrance to the Howard terminal at Rogers Avenue, and an entrance to the Noyes Street Purple Line stop at Evanston’s Gaffield Place.

The current concrete ground embankment structure would also be replaced with a new concrete elevated structure, as seen on the Orange Line.

An even more radical plan calls for getting rid of the ‘L’ structure altogether between the Belmont and Loyola stops, and replacing it with a subway. New subway stations would be located at Addison, Irving Park, Wilson, Foster, Bryn Mawr and Glenlake.

Under that plan, the Argyle, Lawrence, Berwyn, Thorndale and Granville stops would vanish, in some instances without a new entrance in close proximity to replace them. For example, a commuter living on Ainslie Street in the Uptown neighborhood may now walk one block north to the Argyle stop or south to the Lawrence stop. Under the subway plan, the commuter would have to walk two and a half blocks north to Winona Street or three blocks south to Wilson Avenue to catch the Red Line.

The subway plan also calls for the elimination of the Jarvis stop, as well as the South Boulevard and Foster Purple Line stops.

But three of the plans do not call for eliminating any stops at all. Two of them instead merely call for transfer stations between the Red and Purple lines at Loyola and Wilson.

A different scenario would replace the existing four tracks with three tracks, which would eliminate reverse-direction Purple Line Express trains.

CTA said in a statement that it is not taking steps to close stations, at least yet.

“It would be misleading to say that the CTA is proposing closing stations,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “What the CTA is doing is gathering community input on a range of options that were developed based on community meetings held in 2009.”

The statement said that no plan is being proposed at this time and that CTA merely seeks to elicit input from riders and community residents to determine the potential impacts and issues.

But CTA is arguing for one of the options that would eliminate stations and possibly express service, saying, “Under such a scenario, station improvements could be focused on fewer locations, allowing for ore effective use of limited funds.”

The statement said that CTA wants to prioritize its spending “for locations with high ridership and those in need of enhanced ADA accessibility.”

Loyola University student Travis Boewadt said he uses the Jarvis stop a couple times a week to get to school.

“They got to keep it open. It’s a lot easier to me,” Boewadt said. “I wouldn’t like it. I’d prefer to come here where I’ve been coming for 20 years, almost now. Going to Morse, it’s a lot tougher to park there. Going to Howard, I got to pay to park.”

Fellow CTA rider Ellen Herdeck said, “so many people use it. I think that’s a terrible disservice to the neighborhood.”

DePaul University student Derrick Cooper said he uses the Jarvis station every day. Although he acknowledged the Howard station is still close to him, using that station is sometimes inconvenient for him, so he wants the Jarvis station to stay open.

“It just means I can get to class on time. It means I can be more productive,” Cooper said.

Cooper said he understands the CTA needs to find ways to save money, “but I think that public transportation is really important. … It’s important for our economy.”

Ald. Joe Moore (49th) said he hadn’t heard about the CTA’s options for renovating the Red and Purple Lines until Tuesday.

“I am absolutely opposed to any option that would include the closing of the Jarvis station,” Moore said.

He said the options that include closing Jarvis are more expensive than options that would call for renovating the station instead.

“We’re talking billions and billions of dollars that they don’t have right now,” Moore said.

The CTA was planning a public hearing on Wednesday to discuss the various options and Moore said he’ll be there with local residents to oppose any plans to close the Jarvis stop.

“We’ll have a call of arms to everybody to come to this meeting tomorrow night so that the CTA knows in no uncertain terms that this community wants this station improved, not shut down,” Moore said.

“Every 10 to 20 years, the CTA comes up with one of these hare-brained schemes to close the Jarvis station,” Moore added. “And every single time, the community rises up in anger and the CTA backs down, so we’re going to do it again.”

He also said that closing the Jarvis station “would be a terrible disservice” to the coffee shops, restaurants and other businesses that operate near the Jarvis station and rely on CTA commuters to stay open.

The CTA is in the process of applying for federal funding to update the lines. The tracks and stations on the north Red and Purple Line corridor date from the 1920s, and by the CTA’s own admission, most of the stations are in “deteriorate condition, have very narrow platforms and are not accessible.”

Most of the line runs on a concrete embankment structure rather than the steel trestles that compose most of the ‘L,’ and much of that structure is in poor shape.

Last year, CBS 2 reported that at the Red Line viaduct over Hollywood Avenue, pillars were decaying and forcing the CTA to put in a costly shoring system.

The Red Line is the city’s busiest rail line, having seen an average weekday ridership of nearly 250,000 people a day last year. The Purple Line comes in sixth, with about 38,000 riders per day, but it saw a 1.7 increase in 2010 compared with 2009.

A public meeting on the Red and Purple Line modernization plan is set for 6 p.m. at Senn High School, 5900 N. Glenwood Ave. Meetings are also scheduled at the same time Wednesday at New Field Primary School, 1707 W. Morse Ave., and Thursday at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Center, 1655 Foster St. in Evanston. A public meeting was also held on Monday night.

CBS 2 Web Producer Adam Harrington, CBS 2’s Jim Williams and WBBM 780’s Bob Roberts contributed to this report.

  • go bears

    Great idea. I take the red line from downtown to Rogers Park every weekend and most of the stops north of wilson are a waste. Considering eight city blocks equals one mile, if you have to walk four blocks to get to the train that is only a half mile. That s a pretts short distance.

    • Michael

      Most of the stops above Wilson are a waste? Yeah, Uptown, Andersonville, Edgewater and Rogers Park are insignificant because a bunch of boring yuppies don’t live there… Get real.

    • EC

      By your “distance” rationale, we should eliminate plenty of other stops south of Wilson as well – 1 of the 2 stops between Belmont/Fullerton, Addison, Chicago or Grand, etc.

    • mist

      Excuse me? NORTH of Wilson? Uptown, Edgewater, Rogers Park? If you are coming from “downtown” to Rogers Park every weekend are you LOOKING AROUND at the type of people that typically ride the Red Line?
      And if you are coming from “downtown” you OBVIOUSLY can afford some other mode of transportation. I agree with Michael & have one other comment – go back to the suburbs.

    • red rider

      Says the person who doesn’t live in the areas those stops serve. I really doubt they’d be a waste to you if you depended on them like the thousands of people who use them. I agree that some of the stops are almost ridiculously close together, but eliminating as many as the proposal calls for is overkill.

      The focus of the CTA improvements thus far seem to have only been focused on yuppie-centric areas. The red line serves the most people, yet the brown is the one that got all the snazzy, clean new stations. Red line riders wait for trains at stops that smell like stale urine and usually lack security cameras.

      Proposing that so many of our stations be eliminated is another slap in the face.

      • badidea

        It is ridiculous that the brown line was completely revamped and the red line is so disgusting at many of the stops north of Addison…not to mention that this “plan” calls eliminates two stops (Lawrence and Jarvis) in favor of two (Wilson and Howard) where there is more crime and violence. Great idea, CTA.

  • Rand E. Gerald

    No need for an Addison stop – the Cubs haven’t won the World Series in over a century. LOL

    • AL

      LOLOL……..I had to laugh at that one myself……go Sox….(lol)

  • Jarvis: Smelly but Convenient

    Hello, moderator? A person who would be affected by these changes leaves a comment that doesn’t get published? Was it not angry enough, or what? Jeez. I’d like to be part of the discussion.

  • AL

    I think revamping the C.T.A. infrastructure from Wilson to Howard is good idea. I moved to Evanston from Hyde Park in August of 2010 and service on the Evanston Express from Howard to Belmont doesn’t live to it’s expectations as I thought it would. Service is rather slow between Lawrence and Belmont due to slow zones and should be eliminated…….they don’t call it “rapid transit” for nothing!

    I especially hope that the C.T.A. will consider extending service on all of it’s EL routes in areas of the city and suburbs where it is really needed……service from 95th to 130th Street, the Jackson Park Branch from Cottage Grove to Woodlawn Avenue, the Orange Line from Midway to Ford City, and the Yellow Line to Old Orchard were all considered possibilities. I do hope and ask that the C.T.A. will somehow implement these changes in the near future……they’re needed.

  • Damian

    The Jarvis micro-neighborhood has really come into its own. Folk here have really worked hard to improve the area slowly-but-surely over the past 20 YEARS. Now, the CTA wants to remove access to this gem because it it inconvenient to maintain!?! What is this city coming to? What ever happened to Chicago being a city of neighborhoods. Please, let’s not kill economic, social, and community growth by “streamlining” a system that works. Improvements…yes, but access cut?…Duh.

    • Mark

      Nobody said anything about it being inconvenient to maintain. In fact, the reason Jarvis was suggested is because it is already closely located to the Howard station. About two blocks, if I remember correctly. We really don’t need two stops that closely spaced. Eliminating it makes sense to me.

      When I read that they intended to remove Thorndale, I was shocked as well. But again, I realized that is very close to the Bryn Mawr station. So when it was mentioned that they would propose a second entrance at Hollywood, I thought that was a perfect idea.

      • Damian

        I’m sorry, but the Jarvis and the Howard stops are 2 blocks apart only as the crow flies, but crows don’t ride the Red Line…people do. People who live along Touhy would now be 4-6 blocks from a stop. The Jarvis stop services the massive area of apartments, homes, and small businesses in this Rodgers Park area. It may not have a Dominick’s and a Balleys on its steps but it services people going to work! Stop killing our neighborhoods

        The proximity logic is flawed. If that were valid then the Brown Line’s Francisco stop (a mere 150 yards from the Kedzie stop) should not be there. Oh, and while you are at it, close Kedzie…it is only one block from Kimball. My point is, many people and business on ALL these stops thrive because of the CTA trains (the Brown Line stops are just as important). How does removing access to public transportation benefit the people of the city? I hate to entertain the Yuppy arguments from above, but it sounds like that is the true motivation to this counterpoint. I’m sorry that you must stop two more times to let the people who clean your house get home or to their local supermercado. Removing access to public transportation is NEVER the answer to improving a city and the lives of it’s people.

        Sent from my iPhone

  • William

    Eliminating Lawrence will be a devastating blow to the entertainment district at Lawrence. Eliminating any of the stops north of Lawrence ignores the commuters who already walk 4-8 blocks from their house to get to a red line station. And what happened to the plans for a Montrose entrance to the Wilson EL? Need we mention circle line or south side extension? Does the CTA actually have a long term planning office that coordinates these things or do they just wing it all of the time? It would seem to me that the CTA should have a 50 year plan in place that outlines their priorities from highest to lowest and that the options all blend together as workable solutions.

  • Fgfm Uptown

    What the Capplestop!

    • Mark

      You want to try that again in English? lol

  • Jeanette

    I agree with Damian! The businesses at Jarvis are some of the strongest in the neighborhood. It would really hurt the local economy if those stops were eliminated!!

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