Mayor Rahm Emanuel and U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, along with Chicago Transit Authority President Forrest Claypool and other elected officials, today announced significant new federal funding for projects to modernize the Red Line and serve as a significant down payment toward one of the largest capital projects in CTA history — a $1.7 billion initiative to expand train capacity and modernize the Red and Purple Lines.
"The City of Chicago is focused on building a 21st century public transportation infrastructure to match our rapidly growing economy. Chicago's future depends on our ability to improve our existing infrastructure to meet new demand and today is a strong step toward fulfilling that vision,” said Mayor Emanuel. “We appreciate Secretary Foxx’s leadership and commitment on this critical issue, the Core Capacity Program allows the CTA to plan improvements on the Red Line that will benefit riders for generations to come, while supporting and encouraging economic development.”
The Federal Transit Administration awarded $35 million in Core Capacity Program funds for the first phase of the CTA’s Red and Purple Modernization Program (RPM), a plan to completely rebuild the northern section of the Red Line and the parallel Purple Line that currently serves about 40 percent of all CTA rail customers. The $35 million grant is a further signal of support from the federal government and, upon completion of federal requirements; CTA is anticipated to receive an estimated $600-700 million in additional Federal funds for transit modernization efforts.
“The City of Chicago has run on public transportation for over a century, and it is up to all of us to ensure that the many thousands of riders who cross this city by train every day to get to work, to school, to the doctor’s, or even to see the Cubs or White Sox, can continue do so safely, efficiently, and comfortably,” said Secretary Foxx. “Congress should pass the President’s GROW AMERICA Act so we can support more projects like this in transit-intensive cities across the country.”
Under Mayor Emanuel’s leadership, the Red Purple Modernization Program is one of a number of Red Line projects the CTA is undertaking. The CTA is currently in the planning process to extend the Red Line South from its current terminus at 95th Street to 130th Street and just recently received $5 million in funds to move forward on the required federal planning process for the rail line extension.
The Core Capacity funds will allow the CTA to continue with the early stages of the planning for the first phase of RPM—a $1.7 billion initiative to expand train capacity and modernize the Red and Purple lines announced this spring. The first phase involves work in two important areas: rebuilding the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr stations to make them fully accessible, as well as replacing track and signaling systems and widening platform widths; and creating a bypass north of the Belmont station to accommodate future ridership growth and alleviate a major service bottleneck. This section of the CTA rail system has experienced ridership growth of 40 percent in the last five years and will be unable to accommodate future generations of customers unless it invests in capacity expansion.
The Mayor worked closely with Senators Kirk and Durbin, the Illinois Delegation and congressional leaders to secure the funding for modernizing existing rail lines. The Core Capacity program was created as part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) Conference Committee, and allows agencies like the CTA to seek funding for improvements to existing rail lines that will meet growing ridership demands, which is the goal of RPM.
"As cities like Chicago continue to grow exponentially, we cannot overstate the importance of keeping our rail system modernized and accessible for the more than 230 million riders annually who depend on CTA's rail network for transportation to and from work, Chicago's Museum Campus, and neighborhood summer festivals," said Senator Kirk. "As a longtime supporter of public transportation, I am pleased to support this program where the federal government and the City are working together to meet the day-to-day needs of Chicagoans."
“Before the 2012 transportation bill, dozens of existing, aging transit systems like Chicago’s were unable to compete for federal funds dedicated to expanding public transportation systems,” said Senator Durbin. “I worked to establish the Core Capacity program to recognize that repairing and expanding these old systems was just as important as establishing new ones. Because Mayor Emanuel and the CTA seized the opportunity, the Red and Purple Line Modernization is now the first project in the country to receive funding through the new program. Chicago's future depends on our ability to improve our existing infrastructure to meet new demand. This job-creating project will do that by helping CTA double the capacity of its most used rail lines.”
“For far too long lack of federal funding allowed our public transportation systems to deteriorate, eroding efficiency and safety. The new Core Capacity grants will fund desperately needed improvements to the heavily-used CTA system, creating jobs and promoting economic growth in the process, said Congressman Mike Quigley (IL-05). “This project is a prime example of how working together at all levels of government – the House and Senate in DC and the city of Chicago back home – can secure important investments that strengthen Chicago’s future.”
“This project will improve the L’s speed and efficiency on the north side of Chicago, helping thousands of residents of my district use the Red and Purple lines to get to work or to go out to enjoy all Chicago has to offer, including the occasional Cubs game,” said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL -09). “I am proud of the role that the Illinois Congressional Delegation – under the leadership of Senator Durbin – played in enabling the CTA to compete for these important federal dollars, and I am pleased that Mayor Emanuel and the CTA were able to make this important project a reality.”
The FTA funds will cover project development expenses, which include both preliminary design and engineering and environmental planning.
“Modernization of the Red Line is an investment in Chicago’s future, improving economic growth and benefiting a diverse group of residents in some of the densest neighborhoods in the country,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “The FTA has made an important down payment on this critical project at a time when the CTA is aggressively modernizing its rail system, including updating aging infrastructure, improving service, alleviating future overcrowding and make stations accessible to customers with disabilities.”
The Red and Purple Modernization program and the Red Line Extension project are the latest in a series of Red Line projects to modernize and extend the backbone of the CTA’s rail system that have been undertaken since 2011. CTA is currently in the planning process to extend the Red Line South to 130th Street, from its current terminus at 95th Street. And later this year, CTA will break ground on complete reconstructions of the 95th Street Terminal and the Wilson stations, investments of nearly $450 million total that will not only benefit transit riders, but also serve as a catalyst for economic development in the surrounding communities.