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Dozens of Homes Would Need To Be Demolished Under Red Line Extension

By Andrea V. Watson | November 2, 2016 10:59am | Updated on November 4, 2016 11:38am
 East option at the 103rd Street station
East option at the 103rd Street station
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ROSELAND — Dozens of buildings, including homes, would need to be demolished under a proposed extension of the Red Line, officials said at a community meeting Tuesday night.

The meeting, held by the CTA and the Federal Transit Administration to discuss a plan to stretch the line 5.3 miles from its current 95th Street stop to 130th Street, drew more than 250 people to St. John Missionary Baptist Church, 211 E. 111th St.

Officials are considering two routes, an east option and a west option.

The Union Pacific railroad alternative has two options, an east and west option. [CTA]

Under the east option, the CTA elevated structure would be built east of the Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way from 99th street to 118th street. This option would affect 260 parcels, including 106 buildings, 90 of which are residential, officials said. Under this route, more single-family residences would be affected, officials said.

Under the west option, the line would run west of the Union Pacific Railroad from 99th street to 118th street. This option would affect more commercial and industrial properties, some 205 of them, officials said. About 46 would require building demolitions; 26 are residential.

West option at the Michigan Avenue Station (facing northwest) [CTA]

Those homes and business owners would be compensated, including for moving costs, under federal regulations.

Roseland resident Aaron Mallory discovered his four-unit building could be demolished under the extension.

“It’s an investment property, so I have mixed feelings,” he said.

Mallory said he doesn't want to lose the building, but he also supports an extension of mass transit.

“I see the value of what can done here, so I don’t want to stifle or hinder,” Mallory said. “I need to take my feelings out of it, but if I lived there it would be different.”

CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase said that although a final decision hasn't been made on the project, property owners have been notified it's possible they will lose their homes or businesses.

“We’re letting them know ahead of time that we may need to purchase their property to build the rail extension,” she said.

A lot of people have asked CTA what happens if their property is needed for the extension, Chase said.

“The answer is we would follow all the federal laws requiring property owner relocation,” she said. “It’s fair market value or more for homes, and sometimes it’s original purchase price.”

Either the east or west option could be selected as early as next year if the proposal is approved, she said, with construction beginning in 2022.

The east option would cost $2.26 billion in capital costs; the west option, $2.30 billion.

Chase said CTA would apply get up to half the cost covered by the federal  government, and the rest would come from local sources.

The full route can be found online here.

A extension would create four new stations, at 103rd Street, 111th Street, Michigan Avenue and 130th Street. New park-and-ride and bus terminal facilities also will be built at each station. A new yard and shop at 120th Street is part of the plan as well.

Roseland homeowner Valerie Lilley, who has lived at 111th Street and Eggleston Avenue, for three years, learned that her home is safe.

“The Red Line expansion is the IV for the Far South Side,” she said. “It will bring access without bleeding a bulldozer through our neighborhood.”

Lilley welcomes the project because not only will it cut her commute time to under an hour, it could bring more businesses and increase the property values.

The project would open the door to gentrification, she said, because more people will move closer to the city from the suburbs.

Her only concern is that renters might be priced out of the market.

“That’s where we need our politicians, such as our aldermen, to build in affordable housing policies as the extension makes its way through my neighborhood,” she said.

Veteran Larry Jordan has lived in his Washington Heights home for 44 years and uses the CTA frequently.

Having the Red Line extend farther south would keep him from taking so many buses, he said.

“This is long overdue,” he said.

Besides displacements, noise and vibration impact were discussed. The CTA would address noise from the "L" tracks by installing noise barriers, which absorb and reduce noise from the tracks by 10 decibels, officials said.

A closed-deck structure designed to limit noise and a continuous welded rail, which has fewer joints and means a smoother and quieter ride, also would be used.

Written comments are accepted until Nov. 30 via RedExtension@transitchicago.com or can be mailed.