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Tunney Wary Of Project For Lakeview "L" Overpass

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said he's not yet ready to embrace the CTA's plans to build elevated bypass tracks that would eliminate a traffic bottleneck for three of its rail lines – the Red, Brown, and Purple – and speed up rush hour trains on the North Side.

"I'm a regular user of the CTA. I understand the need. It's a lot of money. We want to make sure that it's done with respect to the neighbors and the commercial interests," Tunney said.

The CTA unveiled the plans for the bypass project Thursday as part of the first phase of a $4.7 billion overhaul of the Red and Purple Lines.

Tunney Says Constituents Still Frustrated Over Impact Of Brown Line Rehab

The alderman said some of his constituents are still sore about the five-year $530 million overhaul of the Brown Line in 2010. 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.

Originally, local residents and businesses were told no stations would have to close for the project, but the CTA later said most stations would have to close to save $22 million in cost overruns caused by CTA errors that led to faulty estimates from contractors.

Tunney said local residents also believed, after the Brown Line project was completed four years ago, the west side of Wilton Avenue would be redeveloped, but that has not happened, and now the buildings there are among those the CTA likely would need to tear down for the bypass.

"I know, specifically, on the east side of Wilton, the neighbors are pretty upset that the land has remained fallow, and now we're coming in with a new infrastructure improvement over there," he said. "So there is a lot of frustration in the Belmont-Wilton corridor."

Tunney said some businesses on Clark Street, Roscoe Street, and Newport Avenue also might need to be bought out and taken down for the bypass.

"Some of them are vacant now, but there's a lot of occupied businesses," he said.

Tunney said meetings with residents and business owners would start soon to review the CTA's plans and allow for public input.

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