CHICAGO (STMW) — Up to 19,000 Red Line and Purple Express Line riders could have longer morning commutes for a year starting March 9, when the next phase of the CTA’s Wilson Station Reconstruction project begins.

During that time, the westernmost of four tracks between Wilson and Belmont will be taken out of commission and the Purple Express trains that use it now will instead share a Red Line North track during the morning rush hour.

Loop-bound Purple Express riders could see their morning trips lengthened by 4 to 6 minutes while their trains take on additional stops at Wilson, Sheridan and Addison.

Inbound Red Line North riders could see 2- to 4-minute longer morning commutes — roughly between 5:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. — when their trains will share tracks with Purple Express trains between Wilson and Belmont, Chicago Transit Authority officials said.

“The overall impact to the daily commute should be relatively minor and limited to the a.m. rush,” CTA spokesman Brian Steele said. It should not affect outbound, weekend or off-peak riders, he said.

Existing train schedules will remain in effect and for some Red Line or Purple Express riders, depending on the circumstances, “there could be no impact,” CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase said.

Even so, CTA officials recommended that riders traveling over affected portions of the Red and Purple Express Lines allow extra morning commute time starting March 9.

The track changes will allow the CTA to replace the westernmost track and supports stretching about 2200 feet on either side of the Wilson Station as part of the $203 million Wilson Station reconstruction.

During that time, the CTA also will be building a new southbound Wilson platform. In addition, temporary entrances on the north and south side of Wilson, as well as a temporary exit near Sunnyside, will be constructed. Those access points will open during the next phase of the project, which is due for overall completion in the fall of 2017.

The finished project will transform a station that dates to 1923 into a transfer point for the Purple Line Express, featuring two elevators with access to platforms and wheelchair access at fare gates.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2015. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)