Quantcast

CTA seeks ‘vision’ of Purple Line future

Over a hundred Evanston residents turned out this evening at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Center to share their ideas for improvements to the Chicago Transit Authority’s rail line through Evanston.

Over a hundred Evanston residents turned out this evening at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Center to share their ideas for improvements to the Chicago Transit Authority’s rail line through Evanston.

Maps of the rail route spread across several tables in the Fleetwood-Jourdain gym.

The session marked an early stage of a six-month "Vision Study" the transit agency is conducting as it tries to decide what to do with the Purple Line and with the northern section of the Red Line, from north of the Belmont station to Howard Street. That stretch also serves as the Purple Line rush hour express corridor to the Loop.

Earlier in the week the agency held three similar public sessions along the Chicago portion of the route.

A timetable distributed at the session suggested residents shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for improvements.

It said that once the vision study is completed it could take another three to five years to conduct planning and environmental studies and possibly make some "discrete" improvements, and that overall completion of the project could take as long as another 10 years. None of the work beyond the initial study can be completed unless the agency gets capital improvement funding for the project from the state and federal governments.

Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said she was please by the substantial turnout for the session and that she hopes the agency will start making improvements to the line’s crumbling concrete viaducts in Evanston "before someone is injured or killed by falling concrete."


Posters showed photos of each station in Evanston.

The poor condition of the viaducts and elevated roadbed have forced the CTA to impose slow zones on most of the four miles of track in Evanston, making it one of the slowest-moving areas on the entire CTA system.

A CTA staffer at the session noted that the agency has just completed a similar upgrade on the Brown Line that took 15 years. But he suggested that the political climate is more favorable for transit projects in Washington now and that local support also appears to be stronger.

One aspect of the project would involve upgrades to stations along the line, several of which could qualify for designation as state historic landmarks.

Two, at Main Street and Dempster Street, date from 1910 and feature hip-roofed station houses built to the east of the tracks. Others, including those at South Boulevard and Central Street, were constructed in 1931 with entrances beneath the viaducts faced with white terra cotta tiles. That design is also repeated at some of the stations in Chicago built about the same time.

Comments on the project can be sent by e-mail to NorthRedPurple@transitchicago.com, by calling 312-681-3091, or by writing to Jeff Wilson, Chicago Transit Authority Government and Community Relations, P.O. Box 7567, Chicago, IL 60680-7567.

Editors’ Picks