Chicago Transit Authority unveils details for $2.3B rail extension
- The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) announced new milestones in its planned 5.3-mile, $2.3 billion Red Line rail extension project, according to Curbed Chicago.
- The CTA made one of the most critical decisions — that is, the route the new line will follow — a choice that officials said would necessitate the fewest private property purchases. The authority also announced the location of four new stops.
- The CTA is expected to apply for federal and local funding, but it might create a transit-specific Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district as well. If the city can come up with the money and meet other requirements, construction could start in 2022.
Even though officials admitted the project faced some obstacles, Dorval Carter, CTA president, said in 2016 that the project could be life changing for those in need of educational and employment opportunities.
Chicago has a few other transportation projects in the works as well, including the $2.1 billion Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) rail initiative. That project entails station improvements, new tracks and other upgrades. The CTA secured a $1 billion Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant for this project but only after the city approved a TIF. Before President Donald Trump took office, the Chicago City Council sped up approval of the project so that the FTA under former President Barack Obama would make the decision.
In December, the CTA chose three companies to bid on the project with the intention of starting construction in 2019.
Another project in the planning stages is an express transportation system between downtown Chicago and the city's O'Hare International Airport. One of the bidders on the project is Elon Musk's Boring Company. Musk has not offered specifics on what his plan will look like, but the project guidelines call for a public-private partnership-type relationship where the winning bidder will finance, operate and maintain the system.
The specifications also require a system design that can move commuters between Chicago and the airport in no more than 20 minutes. Musk told his Twitter followers that a Hyperloop system and the accompanying vacuum wouldn't be necessary for such a short trip, which has left onlookers wondering if the Boring Company will present a proposal for a skate system like it has in mind for a high-speed transportation tunnel system under Los Angeles.
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