CTA’s RPM Project to begin first major phase of reconstruction of four Red Line stations and track between Lawrence and Bryn Mawr

April 21, 2021
CTA will rebuild four 100-year-old Red Line stations at Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr and track structures in the agency’s largest transit investment in its history.

Beginning May 16, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) will start the first of two phases of major station and track reconstruction between Lawrence and Bryn Mawr Red Line stations. This is part of the agency’s transformational $2.1 billion Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) Phase One Project.  

RPM will rebuild the 100-year-old Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr Red Line stations and tracks. The new stations will be modern, larger and fully accessible stations that will include elevators, wider platforms and vastly improved amenities. CTA will also rebuild the century-old track structure between the four contiguous stations, which will provide a smoother, more comfortable and more reliable ride. 

The work beginning in May will also include reconstruction of century-old CTA track structures that will provide a faster, smoother and quieter ride for customers. New track, support RPM structures, bridges and viaducts will be built along the approximately 1.3-mile segment between Leland and Ardmore Avenues, eliminating many deteriorated structures in the community. 

Lawrence to Bryn Mawr Stage A and Stage B  

The Lawrence to Bryn Mawr Modernization Project will be performed in two stages, Stage A (2021-2022) and Stage B (late 2022-2024), with new stations expected to open near the end of 2024. Red and Purple Line service will continue throughout construction. 

Stage A: Service changes 

  • Lawrence and Berwyn stations close May 16 for demolition and reconstruction. 
  • Temporary Red Line stations at Argyle and Bryn Mawr will open May 16 to provide customers with access to Red Line service, so the original Argyle and Bryn Mawr stations can be demolished and reconstructed. There will be temporary station access at Argyle and Bryn Mawr throughout construction. 
  • New stations at Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr are expected to be completed and open near the end of 2024. 
  • Red and Purple Line service will continue throughout construction, with train service running on two tracks (the westernmost tracks) while CTA rebuilds the two easternmost tracks (normally the northbound tracks). Red and Purple Line trains will share a track in both directions. Customers should allow extra travel time. 

Demolition of 100-year-old track structure and four Red Line stationhouses:

  • CTA’s contractor, Walsh-Fluor, will demolish the northbound Red and Purple Line track structures (the two easternmost tracks). This includes significant demolition of part of the east side of the embankment wall for 1.5 miles and 11 bridges over cross streets in the Uptown and Edgewater communities. 
  • The project’s contractor will install access ramps to allow transfer of equipment and materials from street level to track level. 
  • Demolition of the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr stationhouses will begin. 

Build new track support system:

  • Following demolition, Walsh-Fluor will build new track foundation columns on the east side of the CTA track structure. 
  • The contractor will drill deep shafts, about 60-80 feet below ground, and fill with concrete. 
  • Support columns will be installed on top of the drilled shafts, which will support the new track structure. 

Building new track structure: 

  • The new bridges and tracks will be built via an overhead gantry system that will install pre-cast concrete bridge segments that are manufactured off-site and trucked into the RPM project area. The construction method minimizes impacts to the community and the area needed by the contractor around the Red Line tracks to perform the construction work. 

Stage B 

  • Stage B (late 2022 to 2024) will include the same type of work as Stage A on the westernmost rail tracks.
  • Stage B will also include the construction of the four new Red Line stations. 

RPM community and small business support

CTA has held hundreds of community meetings since announcing RPM Phase One in 2014 and is committed to keeping the public informed about the project. CTA continues to hold virtual public meetings, including upcoming station-by-station meetings (dates and registration information to be provided soon); construction updates emailed to project subscriber; virtual “office hours” sessions, RPM “ambassadors” at Red Line stations; and the RPM social media accounts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. 

To support and promote the hundreds of small businesses, nonprofit organizations and major attractions and entertainment venues located in the RPM project area, CTA RPM project team has worked with the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, Edgewater Chamber of Commerce, Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce and Uptown United and other organizations to create an Open for Business program, a free marketing campaign that encourages the community to shop, eat, play and explore locally. The campaign’s purpose is to increase the visibility of the local businesses within the RPM project area and includes physical and digital marketing materials and a new “I support local” small business online hub.  

RPM workforce development and small business inclusion efforts  

The CTA has taken a conscientious and intentional approach to transforming large-scale megaprojects like the RPM Phase One Project into opportunities for Chicagoans. CTA works with two workforce assistance agencies, HIRE360 and the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, to recruit economically disadvantaged candidates for career opportunities related to RPM and other large projects. Additional workforce events and programs have included professional career opportunity events with local contractors and trades unions, as well as “Tracks to Trades”, a webinar series to educate CPS high school students about the construction industry and entering the building trades as a profession post-high school.  

CTA also launched in 2020 the CTA Elevating Futures Scholarship Fund to provide scholarships disadvantaged Chicago students to pursue four-year degrees in construction and engineering. To increase the participation of small businesses in projects like RPM, CTA created and has held several “CTA Building Small Businesses” program sessions, providing technical and funding assistance to about 100 small businesses to increase their ability to pursue work with RPM and other projects. 

The Red Line and RPM 

The CTA’s Red Line is CTA’s busiest rail line, providing more than 67 million rides a year and serving some of the most densely populated neighborhoods in U.S. 

The RPM Program, which will be done in multiple phases, will rebuild the 9.6-mile stretch of Red and Purple Line track structure and stations on the North Side that are a century old. RPM will replace aging infrastructure; increase CTA’s capacity to increase train service as needed; and improve our service for customers with more reliable, comfortable service. Future phases of RPM have not yet been announced and are currently unfunded.