Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sun-Times: CTA weighs two options for Red Line extension route

Proposed Red Line Extension
Hmmm, I thought that the CTA settled on routing the Red Line extension along the Union Pacific tracks not along Halsted Street. Anyway more talk about this long discussed, long planned extension from 95th Street terminal:
The CTA has narrowed to two the routes for a long-awaited Red Line extension from 95th to 130th Street — one down the middle of busy Halsted Street, the other mostly running along existing freight tracks.

Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), whose South Side ward would be most heavily affected by the extension, was briefed on the options Tuesday. The chairman of the City Council’s Transportation Committee emerged with a ringing endorsement of the alternative that steers clear of Halsted.

That option for the $2 billion, 5-mile-plus extension generally follows freight tracks operated by the Union Pacific Railroad. A large portion of the tracks run along Eggleston — four blocks west of the existing 95th Street station — and curve eastward as they move farther and farther south.

The CTA’s plan calls for four new stations: at 103rd, 111th, 115th and 130th, with a combined total of up to 2,000 “Park & Ride” spaces, the alderman said.
“Halsted Street is wide open. Putting elevated tracks down the middle of the street would disrupt the integrity and cosmetics of Halsted. It would hurt existing businesses. I don’t think anybody wants that,” Beale said.
Now I believed for a while that the chosen route was along the UP tracks. In fact that's the map I frequently shown here when discussing the extension. So in any event in the article there was talk about whether the L extension could be elevated over the UP tracks or whether that route could be widened. Also considerations for the freight UP trains could be carrying in addition to CTA needing right of way on that route.

Then another consideration talking about Mayor Rahm Emanuel:
The biggest question is whether the CTA can persuade the federal government to bankroll the $2 billion project.

Beale believes the chances are good and not just because of the clout Emanuel carries as a former North Side congressman who served as White House chief-of-staff under President Barack Obama.

“That’s a huge ask from the federal government. But, we’ve been talking about the Red Line extension since I was a kid. Since I’ve been chairman, I’ve made this a priority. So has the mayor. I have all the confidence in the world it’s going to happen,” Beale said.

“95th Street is not the end of the city. What about people who need access to jobs downtown and deserve the right get there in a timely manner? Now that we’ve completed the Red Line upgrade and the [$240 million] 95th Street Station reconstruction is about to start, we can walk right into the extension that will finally complete the Red Line from one end of the city to the other.”

If federal funding falls short, Beale said the Red Line extension could be a candidate for Emanuel’s much-ballyhooed Infrastructure Trust to persuade private investors to bankroll projects Chicago can’t afford to build on its own.

That option would likely require CTA riders to pay higher fees to guarantee private investors an attractive return on their money.

“If we have to, we can look at it, but only if it’s the only way,” Beale said.

“We don’t want to put an extra fee on top [of CTA fares]. If we can get the money from the federal government, we can keep the fees down. We’re gonna lean on the federal government for funding first. My emphasis is on the federal government — not the trust.”
The article is correct in noting that the mayor had campaigned on this project, the next question is will it be delivered.

Also you can read more about this proposed project over at the CTA website. Probably not a whole lot new there, but you can check their information on this project.

Via the not very often posted anymore CapFax morning shorts!

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