The final major stage of the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) North Belmont Red-Purple Reconstruction project is scheduled to begin this fall. Also, the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority’s (HART) TECO Line Streetcar will remain free for another year; and Valley Metro’s Small Business Financial Assistance Program (SBFAP) reaches $1 million milestone.
CTA announced Sept. 26 that this fall the agency will begin the final major stage of the North Belmont Red-Purple Reconstruction project as part of CTA’s Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) Phase One Project.
This final stage, CTA says, will mark the next major milestone for the RPM project, completing new elevated track structure north of Belmont Station and reaching the two-thirds completion point for this section of the project.
The North Belmont Red-Purple Reconstruction project includes two major components: the new Red-Purple Bypass, which opened in November 2021, and the full reconstruction of the 0.3 miles of southbound track structure north of Belmont station to approximately Newport/Cornelia avenues south of Addison Red Line station. The bypass, along with the new Red and Purple line tracks being finished this fall, “allow trains to travel more efficiently with fewer delays, and provide CTA with additional capacity to add trains to meet ridership demand,” according to the agency.
“As CTA ridership returns in record numbers nearing pre-pandemic levels, we are pleased to deliver modern track infrastructure to our customers,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “Combined with the new tracks recently opened between Lawrence and Bryn Mawr earlier this year, we have now built nearly two miles of new tracks under the RPM project. We look forward to continuing to deliver on our promises to modernize the Red Line from north to south.”
With the completion of the bypass and the new southbound Red and Purple line tracks, CTA says it can move on to the next phase of work. RPM project contractor Walsh-Fluor will rebuild 0.3 miles of northbound Red and Purple Line elevated track structures between Belmont Station on the south to the stretch of track between Newport and Cornelia avenues on the north.
Reconstruction of southbound tracks began in late 2021 and will be completed late 2023. Reconstruction of northbound tracks will start late 2023 and is expected to be completed in 2025.
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has awarded HART a $700,000 Commuter Assistance grant, which will allow the TECO Line Streetcar to remain free for another year, according to a FOX 13 report.
According to the report, in 2018, FDOT awarded HART a $2.7 million Innovation Grant that allowed the Streetcar, which is funded by the City of Tampa, the Downtown Community Redevelopment Areas (CRAs) and the Tampa Downtown Partnership, in addition to FDOT, to go fare-free, expanding service, such as increased frequency and service hours.
“HART is very excited to receive this FDOT grant to keep the TECO Line Streetcar fare-free,” said Scott Drainville, Interim HART Chief Executive Officer in a statement. “HART appreciates the continued support of Secretary Gwynn and FDOT staff in identifying grant funding for the Streetcar.”
According to HART, the agency will work with the partners to “hopefully identify funding to keep the Streetcar fare-free for the foreseeable future,” FOX 13 reported. The TECO Line Streetcar System has carried 1,249,511 trips so far in Fiscal Year 2023.
Valley Metro announced Sept. 26 that the SBFAP along the South Central Extension/Downtown Hub and Northwest Extension Phase II light rail projects has hit a major milestone in delivering more than $1 million in grants to small, locally-owned businesses along those corridors.
According to Valley Metro, since the program’s launch in early 2021, more than 180 grants have been awarded to eligible businesses to support them through the construction phase and lay the groundwork for their continued success during future operations.
The SBFAP is a program that Valley Metro and the city of Phoenix created with significant community feedback and financial backing from Phoenix Transportation 2050 (T2050) and the Phoenix Community Development and Investment Corporation.
“Small businesses are the heart and soul of Phoenix. Not only do they power our thriving local economy, but they also enrich our city’s culture and history. By ensuring they have the support they need during light rail construction, we are putting our community and entrepreneurs at the forefront of Phoenix’s growth,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego.
“Surpassing the one million mark is an important milestone for our projects and the neighboring community who spurred this program. By providing this critical financial support, we are making a direct investment in our business community who will serve as future destinations when we open the system. Our riders and their employees will benefit from access to these businesses via this new rail extension,” said Valley Metro CEO Jessica Mefford-Miller.