Reporting Bob Roberts
CHICAGO (WBBM) — The last of four nights of public meetings on reconstruction of the CTA Purple Line, and the northern end of the Red Line, takes place Thursday night.
This hearing is going someplace the other hearings have not, Evanston.
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Riders at the first three hearings, in Edgewater and Rogers Park, expressed heavy interest in a subway option that would replace the four-track elevated between Belmont and Devon. But the subway would be two track, and would kill existing Purple Line express service.
In all, CTA outlined six concepts. One would do minimal repair. A second would renovate what exists. A third would add transfer stations at Loyola and Wilson, which would then become express stops.
The other three would provide far more extensive reconstruction of the line. One would provide for four elevated tracks, another three elevated tracks and the last a subway.
The last three options call for elimination of stations at Lawrence, Thorndale and Jarvis on the Red Line and at Foster and South Boulevard on the Purple Line.
The three-track option would retain express service inbound in the morning and outbound in the afternoon, but eliminate express trains in the reverse commute direction. The two-track subway would leave no room for express trains.
The express service and the elimination of the two Evanston stations are expected to be bones of contention at the final hearing, at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center, 1655 Foster St., a few steps from the Foster station.
Some riders have told CTA they want to keep the stops that could be lost, while others say faster trains are worth the extra walk.
Perhaps as a preview of what to expect from Evanston riders, veteran rider Charles Tauscher Tuesday said that eliminating the express service would be a major inconvenience, even in the reverse direction.
“There’s a lot of reverse riding,” he said. “If you don’t think so, just stand at Davis Street (station) at 5 p.m. and look at the crowd. It fills up a six-car train, right there.”
CTA officials have said no station has been scheduled to be closed and that the option is being presented only to generate rider comment. Neither the Foster nor South Boulevard stops has much commercial development nearby, and boardings have lagged as a result in recent years.
CTA hopes to finalize its plans in the next year in order to be able to seek funding during the next federal surface transportation bill.
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