Chicago Transit Awarded $35 Million FTA Grant to Improve Rail Lines

CTA Red Line improvement plan moves forward. Photo: courtesy of FTA.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was joined last week by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Transit Authority  (CTA) President Forrest Claypool, and other officials to announce that the CTA has received a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) $35 million Core Capacity grant to help improve the North Red Line and Purple Line rail transit system. The funds support $43.7 million that will be used to plan the initial phase of the CTA’s 9.6-mile, $4.7 billion Red-Purple Line Modernization Project. The CTA is the first U.S. transit agency selected for funding through the Core Capacity Grant Program.

“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 to 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.”

The funds will be used on the Red-Purple Line Modernization Project development expenses, including preliminary design and engineering and environmental planning. This will enable the project to proceed with construction of a track bypass, expansion and modernization of four stations, upgrading rail signals and making infrastructure improvements. The CTA expects these enhancements to increase passenger capacity by approximately 30 percent.

“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 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 CTA is currently in the planning process to extend the Red Line South from its current terminus at 95th Street to 130th Street. In addition, later this year, CTA will break ground on complete reconstructions of the 95th Street Terminal and the Wilson stations.

FTA’s Core Capacity Program is a new addition to the agency’s existing Capital Investment Grants Program. Projects eligible for Core Capacity grants must expand capacity by at least 10 percent in existing transit corridors that are already at or above capacity today, or are expected to reach that point within five years.