Rail

Chicago's Red, Purple Line extension plan lands $1B fed investment

Posted on January 9, 2017

Ben Schumin
Ben Schumin

Local and federal officials announced a $1 billion funding agreement that will allow the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to move forward with the first phase of the Red and Purple Modernization Program (RPM) — a plan to rebuild the century-old rail lines north of Belmont and improve CTA rail service for decades to come.

The Full-Funding Grant Agreement with the FTA is the final step in securing the funding needed for the $2.1 billion first phase of the RPM project.

RPM will rebuild part of CTA’s busiest rail line, the Red Line, parts of which are more than a century old. The tracks, structures and stations are well past their useful lifespan, and can no longer handle additional trains to meet the increasing demands of growing ridership — which is up 40% during the rush hours since 2008.

The first phase of RPM will rebuild the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn, and Bryn Mawr rail stations and more than a mile of adjacent tracks and track structure. It will also construct a Red-Purple bypass to improve overall service that will benefit the entire Red Line by improving reliability and increasing capacity so that more trains can be added to alleviate chronic overcrowding during peak travel times.

In November 2016, the Chicago City Council approved the creation of a dedicated Tax-Increment Financing District (TIF) that will generate $622 million to support the first phase of RPM.

Securing the local funding was a critical step that paved the way to accessing $1 Billion in Federal funding.

The Transit TIF district was made possible by bi-partisan legislation passed by the Illinois General Assembly in June that specifically authorized the creation of a transit-only TIF for the RPM.

The RPM project is a key part of Mayor Emanuel’s “Red Ahead” program, a series of projects to improve the Red Line, the CTA’s busiest line, carrying more than 30% of rail riders — more than 75 million riders annually.

Design and engineering work is expected to begin in 2017, and CTA anticipates construction work to begin in late 2018.Construction is estimated to take four to five years to complete.

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