Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) on Sept. 8 reported that its project to extend the Red Line 5.6 miles to Chicago’s Far South Side is entering the next phase of the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) “New Starts” program. It is now in line for a grant totaling $1.973 billion, which would be the largest transit infrastructure grant ever awarded to CTA.
The Mayor of Chicago, Brandon Johnson, commented on the historic grant and how it would “[reverse] decades of disinvestment starts with providing accessible transportation for all residents of this city.” He said the announcement “serves as an important milestone for this project as we move to enhance capillary connections to create a more connected and accessible Chicago. We will continue to work with stakeholders, the state, and federal government to ensure this project is moving full steam ahead.”
FTA notified CTA that the $3.6 billion Red Line Extension Project has advanced into the Engineering phase, moving the project closer to groundbreaking, according to CTA. This phase includes further design and engineering needed to build the project and identifies the federal grant dollars CTA can receive once the phase is completed and approved by FTA.
CTA President Dorval R. Carter Jr. underscored the importance of the project’s progress for Chicago’s South Side. He said that “the Far South Side has been promised for 50 years that the Red Line would be extended to the city’s southern border, and today we can say that promise is significantly closer to being met. This project brings a wealth of job and training opportunities, and it enhances the quality of life for residents who will be able to access jobs and education more easily than ever.”
With the Engineering phase continuing into next year, CTA said it anticipates another funding award by the end of 2024, subject to federal review and approvals. The remaining funding will come from a $950 million Transit TIF approved by Chicago City Council last year and other sources, the transit agency noted.
The Red Line Extension Project will expand the Red Line from the 95th Street Terminal to 130th Street, and includes four new accessible stations near 103rd Street, 111th Street, Michigan Avenue, and 130th Street, each of which would offer bus, bike, pedestrian and parking facilities. CTA said that riders are expected to save up to 30 minutes traveling to and from the future 130th Street Station. A new rail yard and rail facilities will also be built.
According to CTA, the project’s benefits include:
- An “award-winning” RLE Transit-Supportive Development (TSD) Plan in partnership with Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD). CTA said the plan is a “proactive effort” to guide the future development of the long-disinvested communities located near the project area, and it “reflects the vision” of those who currently reside and conduct business in these communities.
- The addition of more than 25,000 jobs in Cook County, Ill., as well as opportunities for workplace training and participation by small Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)-certified small businesses.
The Executive Director of the Greater Roseland Chamber of Commerce, Andrea Reed, said: “I am pleased that this project is moving forward and is slated to receive federal support, and I encourage CTA to continue to ensure that this project commits to creating job and training opportunities and other quality of life improvements for residents in our community.”