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CTA's Red, Purple Line Upgrades Get $1B Boost From Feds

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Chicago Transit Authority's Morse Red Line 'L' Station

The U.S. Department of Transportation is allocating $1.1B in federal grants for the Chicago Transit Authority's planned modernization of the Red and Purple lines, one of the busiest corridors of CTA's rail system. It's an eleventh-hour move for Barack Obama, who's securing the funds two weeks before Donald Trump is sworn in as president.

Nearly 40 million riders used the Red and Purple Lines through October 2016. But long sections of the route run on tracks that are over 100 years old and have reached the end of their useful lives. CTA's modernization project will fully rebuild and replace tracks and support structures on the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr stations, including making the stations ADA-compliant. The centerpiece to the project's first phase will involve rebuilding the Belmont Flyover at the Belmont station where the Red, Purple and Brown Line routes intersect. Trains entering and leaving the station cause frequent delays.

Federal funds include a $957M core capacity construction grant agreement through FTA’s Capital Investment Grant (CIG) Program, and approximately $116M through the Department’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program. The CIG funds will be provided over the course of nine years on an annual payment schedule, subject to congressional approval during the annual appropriations process. The Red and Purple Line modernization project is expected to cost $2.1B. Mayor Rahm Emanuel last November created a tax increment financing district to fund the project. That TIF district is expected to generate $622M toward the first phase. CTA has spent the past year on a $203M upgrade to the Wilson 'L' station, coinciding with Uptown's growing status as a TOD corridor.