Rail

Chicago breaks ground on historic 'RPM' rail project

Posted on October 3, 2019

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) President Dorval R. Carter Jr. broke ground on Phase One of the Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) Project, which is designed to modernize and replace century-old rail structures and stations, effectively improving the reliability, comfort, and convenience of CTA service for decades to come. The groundbreaking is the latest project to modernize the Red Line — CTA’s busiest line that serves more than 30% of all rail customers.

As part of the groundbreaking event, CTA is beginning construction on the new Red-Purple Bypass to unclog a 100-year-old junction where Red, Purple, and Brown Line trains currently intersect. A major component of RPM Phase One, the Bypass construction will also rebuild four Red Line stations and century-old rail structure between the Lawrence and Bryn Mawr Red Line stations.

“The benefits of this project extend beyond riders of the Red Line to Chicago’s neighborhoods and small businesses across the city through training, job, and contract opportunities that will be a model for future CTA projects like the Red Line Extension,” said CTA President Dorval Carter.

Work performed as part of the $2.1 billion RPM Phase One project will make commuting better for all CTA riders with improved service and modern rail stations that are fully accessible to people with disabilities. All RPM Phase One work will be completed in 2025.

Rebuilding all Red and Purple Line track structures and stations from Belmont to Linden in Wilmette, the RPM Phase One Project includes three major components:

  • New Red-Purple Bypass construction (expected completion by the end of 2021), followed by the reconstruction of Red and Purple line track structure between Belmont and Newport/Cornelia (expected completion by the end of 2024).
  • Reconstruction of the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn, and Bryn Mawr Red Line stations into larger, 100% accessible stations and replacement of track structure totaling six track-miles that is nearly a century old. Major track and station reconstruction will begin in late 2020-early 2021 and are expected to be substantially completed by the end of 2024.
  • Installation of a new signal system on 23 track miles between Howard and Belmont that, similar to roadway traffic signals, will improve train flow and service reliability.

This fall, CTA’s contractor, Walsh-Fluor Design-Build Team, will begin constructing new track structure foundations in the Lakeview community for the bypass bridge that will allow Kimball-bound (northbound) Brown Line trains to cross over north- and southbound Red and Purple Line tracks just north of Belmont station. This will replace the current Clark Junction, built-in 1907 to connect what was then the Ravenswood Line (today called the Brown Line) to the Red and Purple lines, which began rail service in 1900.

The project will be an economic engine for development for neighborhoods in the project corridor and throughout the City of Chicago. RPM has already created 1,400 jobs and is expected to create hundreds of construction jobs annually. In this project and others, CTA has demonstrated its firm commitment to connecting training and career opportunities with a diverse and inclusive workforce.

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