Chicago secures funding for Forest Park Branch project

rebuild project of the Blue LineChicago Transport Authority (CTA) was awarded USD 111 million funding by the Department of Transportation’s Reconnecting Communities Grant programme, to accelerate the Forest Park Branch rebuild project of the Blue Line. The financing will be used to replace more than 10,000 feet (3 km) of the Blue Line track between Kedzie and Pulaski.

“This funding is a critically needed investment in the Forest Park Branch and allows us to continue to move forward on our promise to improve rail service on the west side,” CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. said.

The project is located within the East Garfield Park and West Garfield Park communities of Chicago. This track work will benefit riders in an area that has traditionally lower income households, a higher minority population, and more transit-dependent residents than the rest of the city.  The Blue Line track work between Pulaski and Kedzie is expected to begin in the summer of 2027.

Reconnecting Communities is intended to advance community-centered transport connection projects, with a priority for projects that benefit disadvantaged communities, that improve access to daily needs such as jobs, education, healthcare, food, nature, and recreation, and foster equitable development and restoration.

This grant represents the latest investment to support the Forest Park Branch Rebuild project, a multi-year, multi-phased investment programme to reconstruct the entire Forest Park Branch of the Blue Line and make it 100% accessible to those who use mobility devices.

Starting last summer, the CTA rebuilt 3 miles (4.8 km) of tracks between the LaSalle and Illinois Medical District (IMD) stations, demolished and began rebuilding the Racine station to meet modern accessibility guidelines and ,upgraded the traction power system for improved service reliability as part of Phase 1 of the project. A vertically accessible Racine station is expected to reopen by the end of 2024.

Much of the infrastructure along the Forest Park Branch of the Blue Line is original, dating back to 1958. While CTA have performed routine maintenance and made modest improvements over the last six decades, the infrastructure is far beyond its useful life and needs replacement or significant upgrades to address issues impacting daily service.

The CTA continues to work on securing funding needed to rebuild the entire Forest Park Branch. Under the project, CTA will rebuild a total of seven rail stations to make them meet modern accessibility guidelines, will replace the entire trackbed and drainage system along the branch, and upgrade the traction power system to support the electrical needs of modern railcars to meet current and future ridership demands.



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