The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) on Thursday, January 26 announced a project that will extend the Rail Line to the Far South Side to residents who for years have been forced to take alternative transportation to get to the city’s downtown.
The Red Line project extension will extend the Red Line to 130th Street from 95th Street. The RLE project will provide new access to rail service for Far South Side residents, connecting them to affordable housing, jobs, services and educational opportunities.
“Today we are taking a major step towards extending the Red Line to 130th Street and delivering the jobs and economic opportunities that go with it,” Mayor Emanuel said. “By extending the Red Line south we are strengthening Chicagoans’ connections to each other, to opportunity and to the world.”
The proposed 5.3-mile extension would include four new stations near 103rd Street, 111th Street, Michigan Avenue and 130th Street. Each of the new stations would include bus and parking facilities. The project is expected to create an estimated 6,200 jobs.
After taking into consideration extensive public feedback, technical analysis and other factors, the CTA selected a route for the RLE project that would:
Begin the extension at 95th Street and run along the west side of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks from I-57 south to approximately 109th Street;
Cross the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and run along the east side of the tracks until crossing the Metra Electric tracks near 119th Street; and
Continue south to 130th Street.
“We are happy to introduce our preferred alignment for the Red Line Extension, a transformational project that will expand rail service to Chicago’s southernmost communities and create better access to jobs, education and opportunities,” CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. said. “We made this selection based on feedback from the community, and look forward to moving forward on this project.”
CTA officials said the extension would provide all the benefits of new rail service for the area while minimizing the impact on local businesses and homes. The alignment is a hybrid of two previously considered alignments—the East and West Options, named for where they were located next to existing freight railroad tracks—and offers the best of each while limiting the number of properties CTA must purchase to build the rail extension. The selected alignment also takes advantage of several large parcels of land that are currently vacant and will allow for economic development opportunities.
CTA officials said the project is a key part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CTA’s “Red Ahead” investment in its busiest rail line that includes the $425 million Red Line South Reconstruction that was completed in 2013 and the ongoing $280 million construction of a new 95th Street Terminal, which will be completed in 2018.
CTA will host a public open house on February 13, 2018 from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy gymnasium (250 East 111th Street, Chicago, Illinois) to present the alignment to the community.
CTA will produce a final Environmental Impact Study (EIS) that will include further preliminary engineering work and will analyze impacts of the proposed alignment. This engineering work is required before CTA can apply for more than $1 billion in federal funds to support the RLE project, estimated to cost $2.3 billion.
CTA expects to apply to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for entry into the Project Development Phase of this project, a necessary step to pursue federal funding for the project under the competitive federal “New Starts” program. For more information on the Red Line Extension project, visit www.transitchicago.com/redeis.