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Rogers Park Riled Up over CTA Red Line Renovation Plan

Posted on January 29, 2011

image @ mr montrose

By Bob Spoerl for

While it’s intended to push the city’s Northern Red Line and Purple Line ahead into the 21st century, and build a sleeker, faster train system, some residents strongly oppose a specific part of the CTA plan: closing the Red Line stop before Howard.

“To lose the Jarvis Stop would be devastating,” said Adam Webster. He has a special connection to that place – he both lives and works near it. He fears his company, The Side Project. Theatre, would lose half its business if the stop vanishes. The theater is just off the Jarvis stop.

Webster is not alone in predicting severe blows to business in a post-Jarvis stop world. Charmers Café put together a letter urging residents to oppose the plan to close the Jarvis stop. People frequent the coffee shop before jumping on the Jarvis platform, say residents and coffee shop staff.

But the numbers don’t look good for optimistic Jarvis users. In 2009, on the Red Line, fewer than 500,000 people entered the train at the stop, according to the transit authority’s statistics.  It’s the least entered of all Northern Red Line stops.  The second was the Argyle stop, with more than 850,000 entries. 

The CTA held four meetings this week, including one on Wednesday at New Field School on Morse Avenue, to educate residents on the modernization proposals and to gather verbal and written opinions on the plan. Transit officials fielded questions and concerns from residents. The Authority officials stood and described the modernization plans to residents who both listened and gazed at roughly a dozen posters on easels. Laminated poster-boards diagrammed and displayed the CTA’s vision for the Red and Purple lines.

The CTA labels its station-cutting solutions as “consolidating” efforts. The stops in jeopardy of getting removed: Jarvis, Thorndale and Lawrence on the Red Line and Foster and South Boulevard on the Purple.

Many residents wanted no part in the transit’s plan to scrap the Jarvis stop. Alderman Joe Moore, in attendance at the meeting, summarized how many Rogers Parkers community’s concerns.

“Jarvis Square is the textbook example of transit-oriented development,” Moore said. “If that station closed that entire area would go dark. All of the progress that we’ve made over the last 10 years developing Jarvis Square would be for naught.”

His concerns are for more than just the business community.

“By closing the station you are going to force people to walk greater distance and you might discourage people from using public transportation,” he added. 

For now, the closing of the Jarvis Stop is far from inevitable. In fact, such a change is part of only three of the Authority’s six modernization plans.  And eliminating Jarvis would not be a money-saving initiative. Rather, it would be part of a $4 billion – actually, $4.2 billion renovation plan. That money won’t come easy, especially now that an Illinois Appellate Court rejected Gov. Quinn’s $31 billion “Illinois Jobs Now” program. That plan would have provided the CTA with more than $300 million to put toward modernizing its century-old elevated train system. 

Lorraine Dostal of Rogers Park emailed neighbors to keep them informed about the CTA project. She attended the CTA meeting and said she’s not afraid that Jarvis will close anytime soon.

Dostal advocates for one of the CTA’s modernization plans that would improve the speed of the trains through smoothing out sharp angles – in particular, the bend between the Sheridan and Addison stop – while keeping the current platform lineup.

“My personal favorite is the Modern Four Track Alternative – with the Jarvis station open – no extra entrance at Rogers – and I don’t care about catching the express trains at new transfer points at Loyola and Wilson – just let the express train rip between Howard and Belmont,” Dostal wrote in her email to neighbors.

She continued:  “And how about we keep the Lawrence and Thorndale stops open too, eh?  And let’s save some money by not adding new entrances to existing stations.”

Dostal opposes the CTA’s most ambitious plan, which would add a subway beneath Broadway Avenue running northbound from Belmont to Howard. The Jarvis Station would close as part of the plan.

Beyond closing Jarvis, Alderman Moore said a plan that would axe the elevated train from the immediate Chicago skyline would tarnish a fabric of the cloth that makes Chicago unique.

“Whenever you see a photograph of a city and elevated tracks you say, ‘a-ha, that’s Chicago’” he said. 

To ever get off the ground – or underground – the CTA’s modernization plan needs funding. But before that, the Authority needs to complete its Environmental Impact Survey, which is pending and won’t be finished for at least another year.  After that comes the grind of grant writing, lobbying for state and federal government funds.

For now, Jarvis Square and residents who rely on the nearby train stop can breathe a sigh of relief. For now, at least for a while, the copasetic, robotic voice will relay the message: “Next stop, Jarvis.


WBEZ story on how the Appellate Court decision to strike down Gov. Quinn’s $31 billion capital spending plan makes it that much harder for the CTA to implement its modernization plan.
Northwestern News video on how the modernization plan might affect Jarvis stop patrons and businesses nearby.

PDF of the 6 Plans: Compare and contrast CTA’s modernization plans.
For more information on the project:

Sound off. You have until February 18 to snail mail or email CTA officials and tell them what you think about the modernization plan.


Steve Hands January 25, 2011
Strategic Planning & Policy
Chicago Transit Authority
P.O. Box 7602
Chicago, IL 60680-7602
E-mail: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Bob Spoerl is a journalist in the Chicago area—a young but ambitious muckraker. He spends his days as an intern for WTTW 11, working as an online journalist for the news program “Chicago Tonight.”  Bob’s slated to finish his master’s in journalism from Northwestern by August 2011. His familiarity with Rogers Park comes from breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks at the Heartland Cafe and three years as an undergraduate at Loyola University, where he majored in English and philosophy and minored in Black world studies. Join him as he discusses your neighborhood.









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