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FTA OKs $1 billion for CTA Red, Purple project

The Bryn Mawr station will be renovated as part of the Red and Purple Modernization Program.
Photo – CTA

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) yesterday announced the Chicago Transit Agency (CTA) would receive $1.07 billion in grant funds for the first phase of its Red and Purple modernization program.

The project calls for reconstructing a section of the rail lines on Chicago's north side to expand capacity on one of the CTA's busiest corridors, FTA officials said in a press release. In particular, crews will improve track north of the Belmont Station to relieve a bottleneck at the junction of the Red, Purple and Brown lines, as well as reconstruct and expand four stations to better accommodate current and projected demand.

CTA also will upgrade the power, track and signal systems and buy 32 new rail cars. There's a "clear need" for transit improvements within the corridor, said FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers.

"When completed, this project will make a big difference for CTA riders with increased service, less crowding aboard trains, and better waiting conditions at larger reconstructed stations," Flowers said.

Parts of the Red Line are more than a century old, CTA officials said in a press release. The tracks, structures and stations can no longer handle additional trains to meet increasing ridership.

Ridership has surged 40 percent during rush hours since 2008, according to the CTA.

Federal funds for the $2.067 billion modernization project come from a $956.61 million capital investment grant through the FTA, along with a $116 million grant through the Mitigation and Air Quality Program.

In November 2016, the Chicago city council approved the creation of a dedicated tax-increment financing district that's expected to generate $622 million to support the first phase of the project. Securing the local funding was a "critical step" toward accessing the $1 billion in federal funds, CTA officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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