Chicago has one of the world's best commuter transportation systems and it is about to get even better. The northern part of Chicago's Red Line that connects the South Side to the Edge of Evanston will be reconstructed thanks to President Obama's signature on a federal grant for nearly $1.1 billion.
The money will be used to reconstruct the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr stations as well as overhaul about a mile of nearby track and support structure, Chicago Transit Authority spokesman Brian Steele confirmed Sunday. The stations, circa 1920, will be fitted with elevators and a flyover for northbound Brown Line tracks where they intersect with Red and Purple Lines tracks just north of Belmont Avenue will also be built .The project is expected to create 6,000 construction jobs and begin in late 2018..
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will sign a funding agreement with Senator Dick Durbin and Federal Transit Administration Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers.
Red Line usage, which accounts for 30 percent of total ridership among the CTA’s eight train lines, is on the rise and is the backbone of the system.
“This type of investment in transit is an investment in Chicago’s residents and neighborhoods, connecting them to jobs, education and more. I want to commend everyone who worked throughout this process to make this project a reality,” Emanuel said in a statement.
The federal money will be matched by several sources of local funding that will include CTA bonds and a newly created TIF fund that will collect money from property owners who live within a half mile of the Red Line between North Avenue and Devon. Usually the state would provide the funds to match the federal money but because Illinois state lawmakers have not been able to get a budget together for two years, the City of Chicago approved a special TIF funding late last year.
Not all Chicago council members were onboard for the funding but Alderman Harry Osterman argued, “The line is 100 years old. The rail line is crumbling literally. It’s been patched and duck-taped. On an annual basis over the last 20 years, CTA has spent over $50 million to do repairs on slow zones. What we’re doing here is to solve that problem for the next hundred years,” Osterman said.
Passage of the TIF allowed the city to beat a down-to-the-wire deadline on showing the federal government it had a viable way of coming up with the money.
By the time the work is completed in 2025, Red Line tracks from Lawrence to Bryn Mawr may be five to 10 feet higher than they are now because they must be replaced and secured on rebuilt embankments, CTA officials have said.