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CTA Red-Purple Bypass Project To Open Friday, Will Carry Brown Line Trains Over Soaring New Tracks North Of Belmont Avenue

CHICAGO (CBS) -- That soaring new CTA train trestle that has been under construction in Lakeview for the past couple of years will officially open on Friday.

The Red-Purple Bypass – also known as the Belmont Flyover – will carry Kimball-bound, or northwest-bound, Brown Line trains over the north and southbound Red and Purple line tracks just north of the Belmont station.

The new setup removes the need Brown Line trains to cross the Red and Purple line tracks as they make a westbound turn near Sheffield Avenue and Roscoe Street, while the Red and Purple lines keep going north. The old setup was to blame for frequent train traffic jams.

Groundbreaking for the Red-Purple Bypass was held in October 2019.

The CTA has estimated the project will allow for eight more Red Line trains per hour during rush hour periods and increase Red and Purple Line trains speeds by 60 percent in the area.

A reconstruction of the Red and Purple Line elevated trestle north of Belmont Avenue will follow.

The project went up against some opposition in Lakeview – particularly given that it required the demolition of several buildings along Clark Street, Roscoe Street, and Wilton Avenue that some critics felt damaged the character of the neighborhood.

The buildings on Clark Street that housed Bolat African Cuisine, the Moksha Yoga Center, Johnny O'Hagan's Irish Pub, Beer on Clark, and Clark Street Beach, among other businesses, were all torn down for the CTA project.

The historic Vautravers residential building at 947 W. Newport Ave. was spared, but had to be physically moved several feet.

When the Red-Purple Flyover project was first announced in 2014, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said some of his constituents were also still sore about the five-year $530 million overhaul of the Brown Line four years earlier.

That project required the CTA to temporarily close 15 stations on the Brown Line for several months while they were expanded with larger platforms and elevators were added to allow disabled riders to access the stations.

The bypass project is part of the $1.7 billion first phase of a planned modernization of the Red and Purple Lines, including complete rebuilds of five North Side 'L' stations; and renovations to tracks, support structures, bridges, and viaducts between Lawrence and Byrn Mawr. The Lawrence and Berwyn stations are now closed as they are being rebuilt.

All of the stations being replaced date or dated back at least 90 years.

The CTA earlier said the entire Red and Purple Line modernization plan – stretching from Belmont in Chicago to north suburban Wilmette – will cost about $4.7 billion.

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