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Everything You Need To Know About the Big Red Line Modernization Project

 The CTA plan to completely rebuild the Red and Purple line tracks in Edgewater and Uptown is going to have a major effect on neighborhood life.
The CTA plan to completely rebuild the Red and Purple line tracks in Edgewater and Uptown is going to have a major effect on neighborhood life.
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EDGEWATER — There's no question: The CTA's plan to completely rebuild the Red and Purple line tracks in Edgewater and Uptown is going to have a major effect on neighborhood life.

The CTA has completed an extensive environmental assessment on the impact of the project between the Lawrence and Bryn Mawr stations, which are detailed in a 166-page report that was released Tuesday.

From that report, here's what you need to know about the CTA's big project.

When will the stations close, and for how long?

Construction could begin as early as 2017, but different stations will be closed, or partially closed, during different stages of the project.

During the first stage, expected to take 1½ years, the Lawrence and Berwyn stations will be entirely closed for demolition, though Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) has said he would fight to keep Berwyn open as long as possible.

Bryn Mawr and Argyle will remain open during this stage.

Then, during the next and final stage, expected to take 1½-2 years, Argyle and the northbound platform at Bryn Mawr will close.

Ben Woodard discusses who is affected the most by the renovations:

Lawrence and Berwyn will continue to be closed for construction of the new stations. That means these two stations will be closed for three to 3½ years, the entirety of the project.

But the CTA plans to open a temporary station between the Argyle and Berwyn stations at Foster Avenue during the second stage.

This work could increase walking time to stations up to nine minutes, depending on the point of origin. But if you live near that temporary station, you could be saving time. For a full breakdown of this, and a CTA-provided map, go here.

The CTA plans to acquire a few properties through eminent domain

A few buildings will be torn down, but not as many as first announced.

The CTA says it'll need to demolish the buildings at 5657 and 5625 N. Broadway, which both house a Toyota dealership. Dealership owner Bob Loquercio plans to move his business, building a new dealership on Western Avenue on the former "Z" Frank Chevrolet site.

CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase said it was determined the self-storage facility between those buildings would not be needed, nor would the large strip mall at 4851–4887 N. Broadway in Uptown. It originally was thought that site would be needed for construction staging. Now, the CTA plans to use a city lot on Lawrence Avenue and a portion of the Jewel parking lot on Berwyn (about 65 parking spaces, or one-third of the lot area).

After the project, the CTA plans to sell the property it takes over for mixed-use developments.

How will the Red Line and its stations change?

Other than a much-needed reconstruction of the nearly 100-year-old tracks and stations, the project will change how commuters use the Red Line.

All four stations will include elevators and be accessible to people in wheelchairs. The stations don't have these features now.

The new tracks and platforms will reduce wait times. Lighting and signs will be updated.

The reconstruction will include 3- to 5-foot noise barriers at the edges of the expanded tracks, which would span the alleys next to the tracks. The tracks also would be raised off the embankment by 5 to 10 feet, rather than laying directly on top.

The viaducts also will change. Piers along sidewalks and between traffic lanes would be removed. The CTA says this improves "sight lines and safety for pedestrians, drivers and bicyclists," according to the report.

How much will it cost?

No doubt, a project of this size carries a similarly large price tag. It had been thought the project from Lawrence to Bryn Mawr would cost $1.13 billion, but additional review recently brought that number up to $1.33 billion.

Chase said the main reason for the $200 million increase was "pre-project" work that included building more tracks so trains can avoid construction areas.

What comes after the project?

Deep in the report, there are a couple of future projects that could affect CTA ridership and the community.

The in-progress North Broadway, Lawrence and Argyle avenues streetscapes are listed, as well as the new Metra station at Ravenswood Avenue, which won't open until 2017.

But there's also mention of the North Lake Shore Drive reconstruction project and North Broadway plan, which could outline the future of the busy strip.

"The permanent cumulative impacts of these projects would be largely beneficial to the surrounding communities because they would improve access to jobs, places of interest and residences," the report states.

Red and Purple Line Modernization

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