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10/10/2000



Rail News: Passenger Rail

Appropriations may aid extension, renovation


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Fiscal-Year 2001 Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which the Senate and House approved Oct. 6, breathed new life into several transit agency budgets and corresponding projects — including Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and Chicago Transit Authority (CTA).

In BART’s case, the bill appropriates $80 million to continue work on the BART/San Francisco International Airport (BART/SFO) Extension.

"This is extremely good news because it represents the full amount requested for the project for this coming year," said BART Board President Thomas Blalock in a prepared statement, adding that this appropriation is the single-highest amount approved for the project since it began under a July 1997 Full Funding Grant Agreement.

BART/SFO project is an 8.7-mile extension with four stations, including one inside San Francisco International Airport. Millbrae Station is planned to serve as an intermodal terminal, linking BART automated rapid transit trains with Caltrain commuter rail.

While 70 percent of the total project is complete, 90 percent of construction inside the airport already is done, says BART spokesman Mike Healy. Completion is targeted for the end of 2001.

"Admittedly, it’s a fairly ambitious date," says Healy, although some delay provisions are incorporated in the schedule.

While BART plans to use its appropriated funds for an extension, CTA is setting its funding sights on renovations.

The appropriations bill earmarks $565 million for renovations of two CTA rail lines.

"This is a major milestone for the CTA and it wouldn’t have been possible without Gov. Ryan’s Illinois FIRST program, which provided the state support we needed to compete for discretionary federal funding," said CTA President Frank Kruesi in a prepared statement.

Of the total, $320 million would go toward the Cermak (Douglas) branch of CTA’s Blue Line — parts of which are more than 100 years old. Another $245 million would be applied toward the Brown Line. Ridership on the near-northwest Chicago line has grown significantly, leaving trains packed. Appropriated funds would be used to extend platforms to accommodate longer trains.

Overall ridership on CTA lines increased 5.20 percent from January to June, according to American Public Transportation Association.

Having cleared the House and Senate, the bill now awaits President Clinton’s signature.

Kathi Kube


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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