Chicago bypass line from the air

USA: Chicago Transit Authority has opened a grade-separated junction north of Belmont station, the first major improvement to be completed as part of its $2·1bn Red and Purple Modernisation Phase One project.

Designed and built by a joint venture of Fluor Corp and Walsh Construction Co, the Red-Purple Bypass which opened on November 19 is the metro’s first permanent section of new route since the Orange Line opened in 1993.

Chicago bypass line

The grade separation carries northbound Brown Line trains over the north and southbound Red-Purple Line tracks to the north of Belmont station, replacing Clark Junction, which formed a bottleneck on the network. This will allow CTA to ‘significantly’ increase the number of Red Line services in the Belmont – Howard corridor.

The restricted space at the site meant there were limited options for support columns, and so the concrete bypass is supported by a beam that straddles the elevated track structure below. ‘Designing and building complex infrastructure projects in populous areas with limited impact to businesses, residents and commuters is a trademark of Fluor’s infrastructure business’, said its President Thomas Nilsson.

The RPM programme includes rebuilding all Red-Purple Line track structures and stations from Belmont north to Linden in Wilmette.

It is being undertaken in phases, with phase one including construction of the grade separation; reconstruction of the elevated track structure between Belmont and Newport/Cornelia to raise line speeds and reduce noise; rebuilding Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr stations, which are served by Red Line trains; and resignalling between Howard and Belmont.