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Transit TIF District Could Finance Red Line Modernization

By Josh McGhee | September 1, 2016 8:02am
 The CTA hopes to begin construction in 2017.
The CTA hopes to begin construction in 2017.
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Courtesy of the CTA

UPTOWN — The CTA will host a public meeting with neighbors along the Red and Purple Line Modernization Project route to discuss creating a Transit Tax Increment Finance district to help fund the updates.

The City of Chicago and the CTA has the option to "leverage" more than $1 billion in federal funding to complete Phase One of the two-part project if it can match the amount with local funding. The organizations hope to secure the local funding through a transit TIF, which was approved by the Illinois General Assembly in June, according to a notice sent to residents living along the affected CTA lines.

"Without the federal funding, Chicagoans would have to pay the full cost of the project," the notice said.

The legislation was passed as part of a compromise on the state's stopgap budget and an education funding bill, giving Mayor Rahm Emanuel broad authority to create special taxing districts to help pay for major rail projects, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The measure gives Emanuel and City Council discretion to created TIF districts within one mile of the 46 miles of CTA rail lines running through the city. The districts "would siphon off 80 percent of property tax values" within its borders for the major transit projects, and could remain in place for 35 years, the Tribune said.

The transit TIF district would not affect Chicago Public Schools' budget, which is excluded from the transit TIF under state legislation, the notice said.

The district would only be as large as necessary to finance Phase One, and the boundaries have yet to be determined by the City, said Jeff Tolman, a CTA spokesman.

The Red and Purple Line Modernization Project will improve the 100-year-old transit corridor, which won't be able to handle additional trains to meet rising demand. Over the last five years, ridership has risen 40 percent during rush hour, the CTA said.

Improvements include new tracks, bridges, viaducts, wider platforms, ADA accessible stations and improved amenities, the CTA said.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 13 at the Sullivan Athletic Center, 2323 N. Sheffield Ave., Tolman said.

The meeting will discuss the proposed TIF district in greater detail and update residents on the project's progress.

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