Red Line Extension Project gets approval to enter development phase

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The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) says that it has received approval from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to enter the new starts project development (PD) phase of the FTA’s Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program for the Red Line Extension (RLE) project.

Entering this phase is a major step in the CTA’s continued commitment to move forward the construction of the RLE project, the CTA said in a statement.

The CIG program provides partial funding for transit capital investments like RLE. Federal transit law requires transit agencies seeking CIG funding to complete a series of steps over several years including project development.

During the two-year project development phase, which begins immediately, the CTA will complete the project’s final environmental impact statement and preliminary engineering documents to successfully meet the federal requirements for this phase. As part of the CTA’s commitment to the RLE project, $310 million was included in the 2020 capital budget towards 30% non‐federal capital investment grant match commitment, which is also one of the requirements to successfully complete the project development phase.

Advancing through the CIG program will allow the CTA to ultimately apply for more than $1 billion in federal funds to fund the RLE project, with an estimated cost of approximately $2.3 billion.

In recent years, the CTA has laid the necessary groundwork to ensure it will achieve the milestones within the fast-paced two-year project development timeframe. As a result of these efforts, which include conducting additional in-depth analysis, undertaking additional coordination, and modifying the location of the 130th St. station, the RLE project now has an updated timeline.

While the original project timeline estimated service to begin in 2026, it was based on limited information and published in 2016 as part of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The CTA is committed to the new project timeline, which estimates the start of construction in 2025, and service beginning in 2029, all of which is dependent on securing project funding.

The RLE project will provide new access to rail service for Far South Side residents, connecting them to affordable housing, jobs, services and educational opportunities.

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