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The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has awarded a $35 million grant to help the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) lay the groundwork for service and capacity improvements on a segment of the city's heavily traveled North Red and Purple lines, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced yesterday.The CTA is the first U.S. transit agency selected for funding through the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) new Core Capacity Grant Program, which is designed to help transit-rail providers increase the volume of passengers or trains without expanding the footprint of their system.The grant will support a $43.7 million initial phase of the CTA's 9.6-mile Red-Purple Line Modernization Project, which is projected to cost $4.7 billion. The initial work will pave the way for constructing a track bypass north of Belmont Station to reduce bottlenecks with the Brown Line; expanding and modernizing four stations between Leland and Ardmore Avenues to make them ADA-compliant for the first time; upgrading rail corridor signals; and making other track and related infrastructure improvements.CTA officials have said the future enhancements are expected to result in faster, smoother serve and increase passenger capacity by 30 percent. About 110,000 riders use the segments of the Red and Purple lines daily."While Chicago's transit systems face state-of-good-repair challenges, we cannot ignore the equally important need to modernize the current system to meet rising demand for service now, and for years to come," said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan.The Core Capacity Program was created by MAP-21, the current federal surface transportation funding legislation. Projects eligible for funding through the program must expand capacity by at least 10 percent in existing transit corridors that are already at or above capacity or are expected to reach that point within five years.