Red-Purple bypass damaged mere months after opening, city says still perfectly safe to operate

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Less than four months after opening to great fanfare, the new CTA Red-Purple Bypass has big chunks of concrete visibly missing.

The CTA said the damage is purely cosmetic, and there are no structural issues with the new section of track. But the areas of missing concrete, exposing rebar and other materials, are visible from the street and an alarming sight for some.

"Looking at the damage, it kind of makes me a little nervous just a bit. But it's okay, I guess for now. I just hope they do something about it," said John Strzechocki, Lakeview resident.

But transit officials say the brand new structure, known as the Red-Purple Bypass, is perfectly safe.

The .33 mile long section of track, which opened in mid-November, allows northbound Brown Line trains to pass over Red and Purple line tracks, easing congestion north of Belmont.

The project is part of a more than $2 billion Red and Purple Line modernization.

"They've been working on it for so long, and to see that now there's issues with it that it is open doesn't look good," said Lakeview resident Alan Bukingolts.

So what exactly is the issue? CTA said it's a condition called spalling, likely due to water getting into components and then freezing, causing concrete to loosen. And so CTA said it's direct the contractor, Walsh-Fluor, to remove that loose concrete.

In a statement, CTA said in part, "The visible recessed areas are the result of proactive mitigations to protect the public and our employees from any falling debris."

"When you make such a big deal about something as they did about this flyover - I think that's what they call it - you want to make sure that it's done right. So hopefully they're able to get it right," Bukingolts said.

CTA said the contractor is performing daily inspections and will repair those areas in the spring at no cost to the city.
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