Lightfoot, Durbin break ground on Red Line modernization project

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Sen. Dick Durbin broke ground Wednesday on the reconstruction of four 100-year-old stations and track structures on CTA's busiest rail line.

CTA is rebuilding the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr stations. Each of the stations will be modernized, expanded and equipped with escalators, elevators, wider platforms and other amenities, the city says.


"The CTA is what ties our city together and has long connected our residents to jobs, education and opportunity," Lightfoot said. "Thanks to today's groundbreaking, which is an important step forward in our mission to modernize the Red Line with the largest project in CTA history, we are able to enhance those positive impacts even more.

A rendering of the modernized Lawrence station. (CTA)

CTA is also replacing the century-old track structure between the four stations to make the ride smoother and more comfortable for customers.

"CTA customers will see a significant improvement in service with increased accessibility to rail service, less crowding on trains and rail platforms and shorter commute times," said CTA President Dorval Carter.

Construction on the new stations, part of CTA's $2.1 billion Red and Purple Modernization Phase One Project, is anticipated to be completed in 2024.

A rendering of the modernized Berwyn station.

CTA released the following changes that will go into effect in a news release:

Stage A:

Service changes 

  • Temporary Red Line stations at Argyle and Bryn Mawr opened 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 (2021-2024).
  • New stations at Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr are expected to 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.
  • Two bus routes, the #81 Lawrence and the #92 Foster, rerouted to provide customers with convenient bus-rail transfers: The #81 Lawrence will be rerouted to the Wilson Red and Purple Line transfer station.  The #92 Foster will be rerouted to the Bryn Mawr temporary Red Line station
  • The #81 Lawrence will be rerouted to the Wilson Red and Purple Line transfer station.
  • The #92 Foster will be rerouted to the Bryn Mawr temporary Red Line station

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.

 Build the new track structure  

  • The new bridges and tracks will be built via an overhead gantry system that will install 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."

A rendering of the modernized Bryn Mawr station. (CTA)

A rendering of the modernized Argyle station. (CTA)