On September 8, 2023, the Red Line Extension (RLE) project entered the engineering phase of the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Capital Investment Grants program. The RLE has a $1.947 billion federal funding commitment from the FTA, which is roughly 50 percent of the project’s cost and one of the largest New Starts awards in the history of the program. This announcement follows a letter from both Illinois Senators and the Members of the Chicago-area delegation sent to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Office of Management and Budget in February requesting the maximum federal share for which the project was eligible due to its equity components to improve movement and livelihood for Chicago’s South Side — which is partially represented by U.S. Rep. Jonathan L. Jackson (D-IL-01).
Rep. Jackson was unable to attend the announcement event in person, but U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley (D-IL-05) and Robin Kelly (D-IL-02) were joined by FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez in Chicago. U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and U.S. Representatives Danny Davis (D-IL-07), Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL-04), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09), Delia Ramirez (D-IL-03), Sean Casten (D-IL-06), and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL-08) also were not in attendance but signed the letter to DOT to encourage full support of the RLE.
“I am pleased to learn that the Chicago Transit Authority’s Red Line extension project to 130th Street is moving forward after a half-century of delays, ” said Rep. Jonathan L. Jackson. “Not only will the Red Line extension create new jobs, but it will also add four new stations on the Far South Side that will directly impact my constituents, who rely on our city’s robust, 24-hour transit system to travel to work, school, and function in their day-to-day lives. The Red Line extension project is great for our city and the people of Chicago.”
“Today’s announcement marks a significant milestone for Chicago as we move forward with the Red Line Extension Project, thanks to this historic federal funding commitment from the FTA,” said Sen. Durbin. “This long-awaited extension will bring faster, more accessible transit options to our community, creating thousands of jobs and bolstering our economy. This is the tangible impact of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and a testament to our commitment to improving transit for all Illinoisans.”
“Public transit is vital to millions of Chicagoans. For many, it is the best or only option to commute to work and school, or to visit family, ” said Rep. Quigley. “As the lead Democrat on the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, I’m proud to have helped bring these federal dollars back home to support the Red Line Extension project. This project is a major step in building a more equitable transit system for our city, ensuring the benefits of public transit can be utilized by communities that have historically lacked access. I look forward to continuing to work with FTA, CTA, and the Illinois congressional delegation to move this project forward.”
“Expanding the red line on the South Side will bring more investment, new jobs, and give our neighbors a better chance to achieve their dreams,” said Rep. Kelly. “I am thrilled to bring this historic federal investment home to the Second District and invest in opportunities for our neighbors. This extension will build a better future for families on the South Side.”
“No matter their zip code, Chicagoans deserve easier access to public transit to get to school, get to work and to more easily move throughout the city,” said Sen. Duckworth. “The long-awaited extension of the Red Line to 130th Street will provide much-needed transit access for thousands of South Side residents, provide a vital economic boost to surrounding neighborhoods and create good-paying jobs. I’ll keep working to help ensure this project gets the support it needs from the federal level and we do all that we can to help improve transit development and access for all Chicagoans.”
“Reliable public transit is a matter of justice. It can mean the difference between getting to school on time, keeping a job, and having access to groceries and other basic needs that don’t take half a day to get to,” said Rep. García. “Residents of the Far South Side have been waiting for access to the Red Line since this extension was promised to them in 1969. As a senior member of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, I’m proud to have helped secure the federal funding to finish this project and invest in public transit for communities that have been excluded from its benefits for far too long.”
The 5.6 mile extension of the Chicago Transit Authority’s Red Line to Chicago’s southern border is the first rail transit extension in Chicago in 30 years. It will serve roughly 100,000 people, most of whom are from low-income households on Chicago’s South Side, and will benefit tens of thousands of working families and individuals in surrounding suburbs and communities. The project will also provide an economic boost, making an estimated 25,000 additional jobs accessible to South Side residents within a 45-minute commute in the coming years, and generating $4.4 billion in economic activity in the County during the construction phase. The City of Chicago also has targeted areas near future RLE stations for significant local investment.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which Durbin, Duckworth, and members of the Chicago-area delegation supported, designated $89.9 billion in transit funding, and Illinois will receive the fourth-highest amount in direct transit funding at $4.1 billion.