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$1 Billion In Federal Funds Will Rebuild CTA Stations, Add Belmont Bypass

By Josh McGhee | January 9, 2017 11:16am | Updated on January 9, 2017 2:08pm
 The federal funds will go toward the first phase of the Red and Purple line modernization project, officials said.
The federal funds will go toward the first phase of the Red and Purple line modernization project, officials said.
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DNAinfo/Josh McGhee

UPTOWN — The first projects covered by $1 billion in newly announced federal transportation money will be rebuilding CTA stations at Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr as well as nearby track repairs, officials said Monday.

The money will be used as part of the previously announced Red and Purple Line Modernization Program, officials said at a press conference at the Argyle station attended by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, CTA President Dorval Carter, local members of Congress and other dignitaries.

Design and engineering work is expected to begin this year, with constructions expected to start in 2018. The entire project will take four to five years, the CTA said.

Ald. Harry Osterman (46th), whose ward will have several CTA stations updated through the project, called the federal infusion of cash "a historic day in the city of Chicago for public transportation."

"We’re talking about a massive project that’s going to put an imprint on this community for the next 100 years. Everyone who is here today had a part of it. This was a total team effort on behalf of the taxpayers, customers of the CTA and our community," Osterman said.

The grant, pegged at $1.07 billion, provides critical funding for the "transformative project" known as RPM, which will "benefit millions of riders for years to come," Carter said.

In addition to the stations, the project also will rebuild Red and Purple Line tracks north of Belmont which will allow more train service and reduce overcrowding and delays, Carter said.

New track, support structures, bridges and viaducts will be rebuilt along the 1.3-mile segment between Leland Avenue and Ardmore Avenue through the project, according to CTA.

The Argyle station, at 1118 W. Argyle St., was built in 1920 and, over the years, has only received "modest improvements," Carter said. Under the modernization program, Argyle and the other stations will now include elevators and be more accessible to handicapped people, he said.

Additional amenities at the new stations include: wider platforms, better lighting, better security features, longer canopies, more benches, additional wind screens, and real time information boards, according to the CTA website.

The second major component of the initial phase is the Belmont flyover, an elevated track bypass that CTA officials say will increase service and reduce delays but that some Lakeview residents oppose. The project will require the CTA to acquire and demolish 16 buildings to create enough space to separate Brown Line tracks from Red and Purple line ones.

"The bypass will remove a century-old bottleneck at this junction, improving reliability on multiple rail lines and allowing us to increase the number of trains that run during the busiest periods. That will allow us to reduce overcrowding and meet future ridership demands," Carter said.

Since 2011, Emanuel and the CTA have started, completed or begun work on more than $8 billion in projects for new stations, railcars and buses.

The project is expected to create 5,700 construction jobs, city officials say.

Last November, the City Council approved the first transit-oriented tax increment financing district to secure local funding for the project, considered by city officials to be "a critical step" in securing federal funding.

The first such district is set to be created between North and Devon avenues along the Red and Purple Line tracks and is expected to generate $622 million. Those funds — plus $428 million in other CTA money — will be used to match the federal grant and fund the project, officials said.

The federal Department of Transportation will contribute $957 million through a grant via the Federal Transit Administration's Capital Investment Grant program and $116 million through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program, federal officials said.

The funds will be provided annually over nine years and are subject to annual congressional approval, officials said.

[Courtesy of CTA]


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