Emanuel Plans to Strengthen CTA Red Line

Most Chicagoans are no stranger to the Red Line, the city’s backbone for transportation. The Red Line, which carries nearly 250,000 passengers daily, accounts for nearly 40% of all rail trips in Chicago.

Mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel announced his plan to strengthen and expand Chicago’s CTA Red Line Thursday Morning. His plan includes extending south side tracks and revitalizing tracks on the north side, while integrating the transportation investments with community development near the stations.

Like Mayor Richard M. Daley did for the Brown line rehab, he plans to make the revitalization a major priority of his administration. The project will not only just improve Chicago’s transit system however, but it will also create nearly 4,000 good-paying construction jobs.

The south section track repair will improve a ten-mile stretch of track from 18th to 95th Street and eliminate slow zones. As the existing track is repaired, the Red Line will be extending the line an additional 5.5 miles, adding four new stations south of 95th at 103rd, 111th, 115th and 130th Streets.

The extension will provide substantial relief at 95th – the CTA’s busiest station outside of downtown.

Together, the southern improvements and extensions accomplish several important economic development objectives including improving commute times for far south residents to downtown, establishing convenient bus links to growing far south employment centers and creating regional industrial and commercial development opportunities in and near the new stations.

The Red and Purple Line modernization north of Belmont will repair and improve the 100 year-old transit corridor to eliminate slow zones and improve accessibility for people with disabilities. These improvements will also increase speed travel times and expand transit options for the residents living in neighborhood north of Belmont.

To create jobs and development in and near transit stations, the project will require resources from governments at all levels to rebuild and extend the critical infrastructure matched by private investments.

According to a press release, Emanuel is committed to securing all necessary federal sign-offs to have all three phases of the project underway in the first year of his administration. Once federal approvals are in place, he plans to expedite the construction to complete the south side track improvements and station expansions within four years, and complete all north side improvements within seven years.

Emanuel will start by consolidating project planning and establishing a clear transit oriented development policy to streamline development and prioritize investments.