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CTA Brown line to begin using Red-Purple Bypass north of Belmont

The new bypass is expected to limit delays and make travel times faster, the CTA said. It’s part of the $2.1 billion Red and Purple Modernization project.

A northbound Brown Line train leaves the Belmont station.
The CTA’s new Red-Purple Bypass will go into service Friday morning. It’s one piece of the $2.1 billion Red and Purple Modernization project.
Sun-Times file

The CTA’s new Red-Purple Bypass goes into effect Friday, and it will limit delays and make service more reliable, the transportation authority says.

The bypass, which cost $320 million to build, will allow the CTA to add trains during the busiest commute periods, and eliminates a 114-year-old rail junction that had become a chokepoint for service across the rail system. It’s the first major improvement completed as part of the $2.1 billion Red and Purple Modernization project.

Kimball-bound Brown Line trains will now be carried over Red and Purple line tracks just north of Belmont station. It’s the first new section of track added to the CTA system in 28 years.

“I am pleased to be able to deliver on our promise of more reliable service to CTA rail customers,” CTA President Dorval R. Carter Jr. said in a news release. “We are continuing to work hard on modernizing the Red Line.”

The red-purple bypass will allow the Brown line to be carried over Red and Purple line tracks just North of Belmont station.
The Red-Purple Bypass will carry the Brown line to over Red and Purple line tracks just north of Belmont station.
Chicago Transit Authority

When the bypass goes into service at 4 a.m. Friday, there will be minor boarding changes at Belmont.

Kimball-bound Brown Line trains will board on the outer track of the Howard-, Linden- and Kimball-bound platform at the Belmont station. Linden-bound Purple Line Express trains will continue to board and exit on the inner track, normally used by the Red Line.

The bypass project also included noise-reduction walls at the street level, as well as lighting and street pavers. It’s the latest modernization to the Red Line, which serves 30% of all CTA rail customers and is the CTA’s busiest line.

The Red and Purple Modernization project, which is funded through a transit tax increment financing district, is the largest reconstruction project in CTA history, the transportation authority said.

Next up, the CTA will begin to demolish, rebuild and realign the Red and Purple Line tracks between the Belmont station and West Cornelia Avenue. The tracks are more than a century old, the CTA said, and contain a curve that often slows train speeds.

The CTA expects the new Purple and Red Line tracks to be complete by the end of 2024.