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CTA Considering Comments On Red, Purple Line Plan

CTA Meeting

Residents talk with CTA representatives at a meeting on upgrades for the Red and Purple lines in Rogers Park. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Now that the CTA has comments from many of the more than 500 people who attended hearings last week on renovation of the Purple and Red Lines, what’s next?

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts explains, at the sessions in Uptown, Edgewater, Rogers Park and Evanston, dozens of people wrote or dictated comments that the Chicago Transit Authority will consider.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports

What was loud and clear, as one participant put it, was that “these improvements are definitely needed.”

The disagreement is in the details. The agency insists that it is not currently preparing to padlock stations, kill express service, or begin digging a new North Side subway, even though those are among the options.

But the CTA’s Michael Connelly says the agency hopes to bid seriously for federal funding next year.

“We would hope to see some funding for this project in the upcoming reauthorization,” Connelly said.

That would mean making decisions and drafting an environmental impact statement.

The CTA has developed six plans for redeveloping the aging Red and Purple Line structure from Addison Street north.

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.

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.

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

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.