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CTA price tag for bypass project jumps to $570 million

A massive CTA project that includes creating a flyover to separate the Brown Line from the Red and Purple lines is estimated to cost a whopping $570 million instead of an initial estimate of $320 million, the transit agency revealed Tuesday in a new report.

The Red-Purple Bypass Project, part of the CTA’s $4.7 billion Red and Purple Modernization Project, would construct a fifth track bypass just north of the Belmont station where the CTA’s Red, Purple and Brown lines tracks converge.

While the price tag for the bypass remains $320 million, the additional cost would be to rebuild track in the area and modernize signals.

Critics have charged that the bypass over two existing elevated lines would create a soaring “roller coaster” outside their Lake View homes; require the seizure of parcels of land, homes and businesses; and would not be worth the cost for the amount of time riders would save.

But the CTA says it would add up to eight more trains per hour during rush hour on the Red Line alone in an area where ridership has soared. And they say it’s needed to “mitigate” traffic congestion where the Brown, Red and Purple Lines intersect at a junction that was constructed in 1907.

According to an environmental assessment released Tuesday, construction would take between 48 and 52 months and would happen in three stages. It would result in service disruption for Red, Purple and Brown Line riders during weekends, and off-peak periods. If funded, construction would begin as soon as 2017, according to the analysis.

During construction, shuttles would be used for Brown Line riders between Belmont and Southport during a “limited” number of weekends. A Red Line shuttle between Belmont and Addison also would be used during a “limited” number of weekends as well.

Construction also will cause short-term street closures or detours and lane restrictions along roadways and alleys beneath the tracks.

The CTA is seeking grants for the project and plans to use a mix of federal, state and local funds for the project. Sixteen buildings would be permanently displaced for construction. That includes commercial properties, residences, mixed-use buildings, vacant lots and private parking lots.

A public hearing on the bypass construction will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on June 3 at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted.