The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has announced that the Chicago Red Line extension project is in line for a USD 1.973 billion in critical grant funding needed. The grant would be the largest transit infrastructure grant awarded to the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) in its history.
The project has advanced in the next phase of the federal “New Starts” programme, a major milestone in applying for project funding and an important step to moving the project closer to groundbreaking. With this announcement, CTA can now begin the engineering phase of the project, which includes further design and engineering needed to build the project and identifies the federal grant dollars CTA can receive for the project once the engineering phase is completed and approved by FTA.
The engineering phase of the project is expected to continue into 2024 and anticipates a funding award by the end of 2024 subject to federal review and approvals. The remaining project funding will come from a USD 950 million Transit TIF approved by Chicago City Council last year and other sources.
Chicago Red Line extension has an investment value of USD 3.6 billion and covers the construction of a 9 km section from the existing terminal at 95th/Dan Ryan to the vicinity 130th Street. The project includes the construction of four new accessible stations near 103rd Street, 111th Street, Michigan Avenue, and 130th Street, each of which would include bus, bike, pedestrian and parking facilities. In addition, a depot and related rail facilities will be built to improve operational efficiency for the entire Red Line and CTA system.
According to project’s schedule, the construction contract will be awarded at the end of 2024 and the work will start in 2025 and completed in four years. It is expected that the line will enter commercial operation at the end of 2029.
CTA has selected three qualified contracting consortia which entered qualifications through a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process in 2022. The contracting qualified companies are FH Paschen, Ragnar Benson, Milhouse and BOWA Joint Venture; Kiewit Infrastructure; and Walsh VINCI Transit Community Partners. These entities represent a variety of local, national and international businesses.
This selected companies will enter the next phase of the competitive procurement process and the contractor will be selected based on the submitted proposals. CTA will announce the winner at the beginning of 2024.
The expansion of the Red Line will create 2,500 direct and indirect jobs during the construction phase and the final RFP will include workforce goals and will require significant participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprise certified firms and career-seekers from underrepresented communities and economically disadvantaged areas. In May 2023, Chicago Transit Authority has adopted the transit supportive development plan for the Red Line extension which creates the guidelines for future development in the long-disinvested communities located near the project’s area. The plan has been developed together with the planning department of the City of Chicago.
The existing line will be extended to Chicago’s Far South Side and south suburbs, a decision to deliver these areas rail and bus services. “The Far South Side has been promised for 50 years that the Red Line would be extended to the city’s southern border, and today we can say that promise is significantly closer to being met. This project brings a wealth of job and training opportunities, and it enhances the quality of life for residents who will be able to access jobs and education more easily than ever before,” CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. said.
The Chicago Red Line extension will provide a new, more direct connection to the existing line and once it is opened, it is expected to provide up to 30-minute time savings to passengers travelling from the future 130th Station.
The extension is one of the largest investments on the Far South Side in decades and is a critical investment for CTA to expand its rapid transit network. It is expected that the project will bring USD 1.7 billion in real estate development in the half-mile station area between 2029-2040.