Construction Update
North Side CTA Riders To Get Less Time Staring at Their Phones

A North Side bottleneck that has stalled commuters since your grandpa paid a nickel to ride to Wrigley Field is finally being dealt with.

Ground has been broken on the Red-Purple Bypass Project, which will allow the CTA’s Brown Line trains to bypass the Belmont junction, even though its color does not appear in the project’s name.

At some point, someone, somewhere thought this was a good idea. (via Apple Maps)
At some point, someone, somewhere thought this was a good idea. (via Apple Maps)

When complete, Red and Purple trains will be able to run between Addison and Belmont without waiting for Brown Line trains to make a left turn across traffic.  Or Brown Line trains won’t have to wait for Red and Purple trains to get out of the way to continue their journey westward.  How you see it largely depends on where you’re going.

Rendering of the Brown Line flyover ramp. (Courtesy of the Chicago Transit Authority)
Rendering of the Brown Line flyover ramp. (Courtesy of the Chicago Transit Authority)

Either way, the Brown Line will get its own flyover ramp, similar to the way the Orange Line bypasses Chinatown.  This will allow up to eight more trains an hour to rumble through on the Red Line tracks. 

Early in the process, the CTA considered simply shoving the Red and Purple lines into a subway north of the Belmont station.  But that idea was derailed by the cost.

The whole shebang is expected to be finished around the time of the Winter Olympics in Milan.  A press release from Walsh Construction follows.

Walsh Construction Joint Venture Breaks Ground on CTA’s Red and Purple Line Modernization Program

CHICAGO – Walsh Construction and joint venture partner Fluor Corporation have broken ground on Phase One of the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) Red and Purple Line Modernization Program. The $2.1 billion project is the largest capital improvement in the history of the CTA.

The Walsh-Fluor team will begin the project with the construction of a bypass bridge to ease congestion on the 100-year-old rail line in Chicago’s densely populated Lakeview neighborhood, on the city’s northside. Additional Phase One work will also include the reconstruction of nearly two miles of tracks and the replacement of four CTA stations. CTA trains will remain operational throughout the duration of the project.

Walsh Construction and Fluor, along with lead designer Stantec Consulting Services and major subconsultant designers EXP, International Bridge Technologies and TranSmart/EJM Engineering, are leading the design-build efforts for Phase One.

“The Red and Purple Lines are part of the daily lives of thousands of Chicagoans,” said Matthew Walsh, co-chairman of Walsh Construction, “We’re committed to enhancing this vital transit link and delivering reliable, safe and high-quality infrastructure to the citizens of Chicago.”

The bypass bridge and rail modernization are anticipated to increase train speeds and train capacity during rush periods. The new, commuter-friendly stations will include wider platforms, increased canopy cover, new elevators and escalators, improved lighting and security features and real-time travel information.

The Walsh-Fluor team closely examined methods to mitigate disruption related to construction. The plans include components and construction methods to reduce the impact on neighborhood residents, businesses, environment and traffic.

Walsh Construction has worked with the Chicago Transit Authority to provide numerous transit upgrades across Chicago. Over the last two years alone, Walsh Construction has reconstructed the CTA’s Wilson Station in the Uptown neighborhood, rehabilitated the Garfield Green Line Station in Washington Park, renovated the Belmont Blue Line Station in Avondale, and is currently renovating the Jefferson Park Blue Line Intermodal Facility. 

Phase One of the Red-Purple Line Modernization Program is scheduled for completion by 2025.

Location: Between West Belmont Avenue and West Newport Avenue, Lake View

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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