$1 Billion for CTA

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Gov. Pat Quinn talks to reporters about his efforts to create jobs with infrastructure improvements as CTA President Forrest Claypool looks on during a press conference on renovating the Red and Purple ‘El’ public transit stations on Nov. 3, 2011.. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte


Two of the Chicago Transit Authority’s busiest train line stations will be improved and rebuilt, according to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The two announced today during a press conference at the 35th Street Red Line ‘El’ station that “slow zones” will be eliminated, systems will be upgraded, and tracks will be repaired on the Red and Purple train lines.

Quinn said during the press conference that this $1 billion “state capital investment” plan from a combination of state, local and federal funds would also create 2,700 jobs.

“Jobs that you can support a family on, construction jobs, good jobs,” he added.

Highlights of the Red Line improvements include replacement of tracks between 18th and 95th streets; upgrades to stations between Cermak and 95th streets; the stations at Wilson and Clark/Division, along with the surrounding tracks, will be rebuilt; the ventilation system will be upgraded on the underground portion of the Red Line through downtown; and three electrical substations will be upgraded, according to the press release from Quinn’s office.

A significant portion of the Purple Line will be upgraded, and ties will be replaced on the Purple Line track between the Belmont and Linden stations, which Quinn said would eliminate slow zones on the 24 percent of the express service that is forced to operate at a maximum of 35 mph or less. In addition, Quinn also directed the Illinois Department of Transportation to work with the CTA to ensure that minority- and women-owned businesses can compete for the jobs on this entire project.

Quinn then introduced Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider, whom he deemed “the very first woman ever to head the Department of Transportation in our state.” Schneider said the funds were dedicated under Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now Capital program, which is injecting $31 billion in infrastructure in the state “creating and sustaining good paying construction jobs.”

“And one thing that’s really important about transportation investments is those construction jobs are right here,” she added. “Right here in Chicago, right here in Illinois, they cannot be exported.” Schneider said that $14 billion of that capital program is earmarked for transportation improvements, with $2 billion for mass transit investments.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel talks to reporters about eliminating “slow zones” as acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider and Chicago aldermen look on during a press conference on improving the city’s Red and Purple EL train stations on Nov. 3. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte


According to Emanuel, about 38 to 40 percent of all usage of the CTA occurs on the Red Line, which he said includes parts built over a hundred years ago. “It’s time for its modernization,” the mayor said.
Emanuel said that he had spent a portion of his campaign running for mayor at ‘El’ stops around town, and noticed the railway’s condition. “From slow zones to station fixes to energy power, the Red Line must be fixed,” the mayor said. “You can’t keep a city growing on a 20th Century infrastructure with a 21st Century economy, and we have made tough choices to invest in this development.”

CTA President Forrest Claypool said the plans to improve the Red and Purple Line stations are “the single largest investment in the CTA rail line in its history.”

Claypool said the renovations will also improve service for CTA customers who rely on it to get to work, and get from neighborhood to neighborhood. “It is a tremendously good day for our customers…for the city…and we will work hard to make sure that this investment reaps the dividends that it should,” he said.

Claypool added that CTA will use this project along with other improvements to make CTA the “growth engine” and “the vehicle” for improving Chicago neighborhoods.

Construction on the two El stations starts next year and is expected to last three years.

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