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Major Renovations Coming To Multiple Red Line Stations

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Red Line Train

A CTA Red Line train near Belmont. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Get ready for eight months of delays on the Red Line and Purple Line Express.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports, while planners try to figure out what to do long-term about the northern third of the Red Line, the CTA will spend $57.8 million, beginning in April, to give “facelifts” to seven stations.

“They’re among the worst of the worst,” said Chicago Transit Authority President Forrest Claypool, in explaining the decision to do the short-term fix.

In several of the stations, conditions are so bad that it literally rains inside, despite being at the bottom of a concrete-and-earthen embankment.

With one exception, the stations date from about 1930.

The work will be done at the Jarvis, Morse, Granville, Thorndale, Berwyn, Argyle and Lawrence stations.

Several of the stations could be closed when full-scale Red Line rehabilitation takes place, but “they can’t wait,” Claypool said. “The riders need this now.”

The work to be done includes waterproofing, viaduct repair, new doors and windows for the stations, and tuckpointing. Work is also planned for the roofs of adjacent station buildings, so that inside concession spaces can be leased and begin to generate revenue for the cash-starved agency.

The waterproofing is what will cause the delays. It will require CTA crews to take up tracks adjacent to the stations so that a waterproof membrane can be put in place beneath the surface.

In addition, Claypool said, stations will close for up to 42 days as the work progresses. No two adjoining stations will be allowed to close, so no more than four stations will be closed at once.

The work is expected to conclude late this fall or in early 2013. It will not include installation of elevators. Claypool said the current footprint of many of the stations is too narrow to allow for elevators. He said that will be addressed in the full-scale modernization, which is still in its planning stages.

The program leaves out several stations that are in even worse shape — the Bryn Mawr, Sheridan and Wilson stations. Claypool said they will be addressed in separate renovation contracts. He has already announced plans to completely rebuild the Wilson/Uptown station, which was built in the 1920s.

The CTA plans a similar renovation — the second in 10 years — on the southern portion of the Red Line next year. Claypool said both are fully funded through the CTA’s capital program.

The full-scale North Red Line modernization could cost anywhere from $2.5 to $5 billion. The CTA board Wednesday retained Goldman Sachs & Co. to lead the search for public-private partnerships to help finance the reconstruction, which has no firm date.

Goldman Sachs has been successful in lining up private capital for mass transit expansion elsewhere, notably in Denver. It will work with Chicago-based Loop Capital Markets LLC and Estrada Hinojosa & Co., but will accept no fee for the first year as it determines the ability to raise private capital.

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