Chicago will be getting just over $1 billion in federal funding to modernize the red and purple lines of it’s “L” transit system. The funding will come through the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and will cover half of the $2 billion modernization project.
Chicago’s L became operational in 1900 and the purple and red lines are the oldest lines in the transit system. The modernization project will rebuild the century-old rail lines north of Belmont and improve CTA service overall across both lines. The tracks, structures and stations are well past their useful lifespan, and can no longer handle additional trains to meet the increasing demands of growing ridership – which is up 40 percent during the rush hours since 2008.
The first phase of the project will rebuild the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr rail stations and more than a mile of adjacent tracks and track structure. It will also construct a Red-Purple bypass to improve overall service that will benefit the entire Red Line by improving reliability and increasing capacity so that more trains can be added to alleviate chronic overcrowding during peak travel times.
In November 2016, the Chicago City Council approved the creation of a dedicated Tax-Increment Financing District (TIF) that will generate $622 million to support the first phase of the project. That financing allowed the city to apply for federal matching funds.
“With public transit ridership on the rise, we need to ensure our transportation agencies have the funding they need to grow and keep up with demand. I worked to establish the Core Capacity program in 2012 so cities with aging infrastructure, like Chicago, could make significant improvements to the busy transit systems millions of commuters rely on daily,” U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said in a statement on the funding. “The funding builds on $191 million already received from the federal government.”