The Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) corridor is a 9.6 mile stretch of track built over a century ago. It serves some of Chicago’s densest areas including Lakeview and the 44th ward. In order to accommodate recent increases in ridership along the RPM corridor during rush hours, the CTA needs to increase service, however it is currently at capacity. The RPM program addresses this issue by completely modernizing and rebuilding much of the corridor from Belmont to Howard. In the 44th ward, this includes the Red-Purple Bypass Project.
As part of the first phase of the RPM Program, CTA has begun construction of the Red-Purple Bypass north of the Belmont Station to eliminate a bottleneck that prevents CTA from adding more trains. Currently there is a flat rail intersection, and all northbound Brown Line trains cross over the four tracks used by northbound and southbound Red and Purple line trains. This outdated track configuration dates back to 1907 and results in inefficient train operations that constrain the CTA’s ability to add train service.
With the new bypass, northbound Brown Line trains will proceed along a dedicated rail line above the Red and Purple line tracks. This improvement will allow CTA to significantly increase the number of trains it runs along the Red Line to reduce overcrowding and meet growing demand for transit service. Benefits of building the Red-Purple Bypass alone include:
- The addition of up to eight more Red Line trains per hour during rush periods
- Accommodate up to 7,200 additional customers per hour during rush hour
- Increased Red and Purple line train speeds by 60 percent through this intersection
- Customers are saved a half-million travel hours each year
- Spring 2018: Advance utility relocation work begins
- December 2018: CTA selects Walsh-Fluor as design-build contractor
- February 2019: CTA issued Notice to Proceed to Walsh-Fluor to begin project work
- Winter 2019: Property demolition complete
- End of 2019: Heavy civil work related to advance utility relocation to be substantially completed
- October 2019: Major construction begins on Red-Purple Bypass with start of track foundation work
- 2021: Red-Purple Bypass to be completed; CTA to begin reconstruction of North Main lines (Red and Purple Line track structure reconstruction between Belmont and Cornelia/Newport)
- End of 2024: North Main Line reconstruction to be completed.
Current Construction Phase
Preparatory work for the next phase of the Red-Purple Bypass Project – building a temporary track structure – will begin this month.
In order to continue to provide Red, Purple, and Brown Line service throughout RPM Phase One construction (2019-2025), a temporary track structure will need to be build parallel to the Red, Purple, and Brown Line tracks between W. Belmont Avenue and north of W. School Street. Construction of this temporary track is expected to begin in December 2020. Trains will use this track for several years during construction.