Some Intrigued By Possible Red, Purple Line Changes

CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) — While neighbors and an alderman are outraged over possible plans to close several CTA ‘L’ stops on the Red and Purple lines, there were few angry words Tuesday at a public hearing.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports, the hearing was held at Senn High School, 5900 N. Glenwood Ave., to discuss the plans to reconstruct and renovate the Red and Purple lines.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports

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.

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, entrances 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.

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

And 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.

Still, at the meeting Tuesday, the subway alternative appeared to be the most popular.

“I thought that was kind of a joke coming over here,” said Edgewater resident Tim O’Neil. “But after seeing it, I was really intrigued by it because of the weather factors that we always have with the weather in the winter.”

Another rider, Paul Damian, said that while the subway seems preferable, he’s not sure CTA could dig deep enough without running into the water table, and cited problems found when constructing a condominium at Broadway and Rosedale Avenue, immediately adjacent to where the subway would be located.

Evanston riders are not expected to be so enamored with the subway because of the inability to operate express trains.

Rider Charles Tauscher said he would object to the subway and three-track elevated alternatives because of the effect on Purple Line Express service.

“There’s a lot of reverse riding,” he said. “If you don’t think so, just stand at Davis Street at 5 p.m. and look at the crowd. It fills up a six-car train right there.”

Tauscher said eliminating express trains entirely would “inconvenience a lot of people, that’s for sure.”

The prospect of losing stations was a concern for Edgewater Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive officer Jay Delaney, who said he would bring it up to his board.

Ald. Joe Moore was similarly opposed to losing stations.

“I am absolutely opposed to any option that would include the closing of the Jarvis station,” Moore told CBS 2 on Tuesday.

But several others said they would back fewer stations, so long as they had auxiliary entrances.

“I actually think if the trains ran faster it would be worth it,” said Rachel Zuckert, who said she takes the ‘L’ each weekday from a station that would be closed.

Several of the stations on the Red Line’s North Main Line have been renovated extensively in recent years, or in the case of the Addison station, totally replaced.

One option would do minimal repair and restoration work, although three badly deteriorated bridges would be replaced.

Another would renovate all existing structures and embankments without making substantial changes.

A third option would add new transfer stations at Wilson and Loyola, replacing about a mile of embankment and “L” structure with a concrete aerial structure. Express trains would then stop at Loyola and Wilson, in addition to Belmont and Brown Line stops south into the Loop.

CTA is seeking federal and state funding for the project. A spokesman said they hope to have the Tier 1 environmental impact statement ready in time to secure funding in the next federal surface transportation reauthorization, expected in 2012.

Further public meetings are scheduled at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the New Field Primary School, 1707 W. Morse Av.; and 6 p.m. Thursday at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Center, 1655 Foster St., in Evanston.

  • Kelly

    Eliminating the Lawrence Red Line stop will leave a very large void in an area that has a lot of nightlife. The Broadway/Lawrence area is a hub of activity with nightclubs, concert venues, restaurants and bars. To eliminate that stop would mean more people fighting for already limited parking spots, and more potentially drunk drivers on the road. Bad idea.

  • red rider

    I agree with Kelly.

    If any stops should be eliminated, it seems to me that Thorndale would make the most sense. It’s very close to Granville (I think that’s the stop) and there isn’t a whole lot right off that stop, except for perhaps the Dominick’s. I’m loathe to suggest any station be eliminated, though, because it would be terrible for everyone who depends on it.

  • Seeing Red

    IF they NEED to eliminate a stop, then Thorndale should be it. It’s 2 blocks in either direction from the next stop – in fact, that whole cluster from Argyle to Granville could be revamped. But for now Thorndale should go. It is the WORST stop on the north side. In the summer there are always thugs, bangers and beggers hanging out there (there’s a school nearby). I always hate whenever I have to get off there for something. Stinks for the businessess nearby, but IF they have to close one, that should be it.

    • red rider

      I don’t have much experience with the Thorndale stop, but my vote for the worst is Jarvis (and I would know – it’s my home stop!) It’s been rated as the worst-smelling stop in all of CTA’s domain. And it’s true. It’s nas-TAY. It’s also pretty crime-y. As much as I’d hate for it to go away, it IS pretty close to Howard.

  • Anthony Steven Warnelis

    You think crime is bad at a given stop? Don’t kid yourselves. Crime is worse in areas of little or no pedestrian/commercial/civic activity. Ask the folks who live on the south and west sides away from the train stations. C’mon, CTA; you have to do better than this. Study the elevated people moving system at O’Hare between the terminals. Elevated, weather-protected, accessible.

  • John H

    The subway option is too expensive and non-essential. Keep the 4-track section in order to run all-day, bi-directional express trains. Consolidate Thorndale and Granville to one station, do the same for Berwyn and Argyle (new station at Foster), keep Lawrence and move Wilson station to Foster. Running all-day, FAST Purple line trains in both directions will increase ridership tremendously, as soon as folks realize they have a viable alternative to driving.

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