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The CTA’s Red-Purple Line modernization project takes another step forward

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The CTA has narrowed its list of bidders for the first phase of the $2.1 billion project

Curbed Chicago Flickr pool/Bill

The first phase of an ambitious plan to overhaul Chicago’s Red and Purple Lines reached a key milestone this week as the CTA announced a short list of potential contractors. Known officially as the Red and Purple Modernization Program (RPM), the $2.1 billion project is the single largest capital improvement undertaking in the CTA’s history.

After issuing a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for RPM Phase One back in June, the CTA has since narrowed its pool of potential private partners down to three groups: Walsh-Fluor Design-Build Team, Kiewit Infrastructure Company, and Chicago Rail Constructors.

An illustration of the planned Red-Purple Line Bypass.

RPM phase one will see four of the oldest Red Line stations—Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr—rebuilt and made ADA compliant. This initial tranche of the project also includes the construction of the $570 million Red-Purple Line Bypass, also known as the Belmont Flyover.

Designed to unclog the 100-year-old junction near Clark Street where Red, Purple, and Brown Line trains awkwardly intersect, it will give the CTA the ability to increase capacity by 15 more trains per hour to address rising rush hour ridership. The controversial connection involves the demolition of more than a dozen buildings in the Lakeview neighborhood.

The agency will next issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to invite the selected firms to submit proposals on how they would design and construct the transit improvement project. The city will select a winning bid based on pricing, experience, and “other factors” and break ground in 2019.