Feds earmark $2B for Chicago’s Red Line extension

Dive Brief:

  • The Chicago Transit Authority is in line to receive $1.97 billion from the federal government to aid its $3.6 billion Red Line Extension project. It has shortlisted three contractors for the work. 
  • If finalized via the federal New Starts program, the funds would constitute the largest grant in CTA’s history, the agency announced on Sept. 8. The project will extend the Red Line 5.6 miles to Chicago’s Far South Side, from 95th Street to 130th Street. The funding commitment moves it one step closer to groundbreaking, according to CTA. 
  • The transit agency has yet to choose a primary contractor for the job. Last week, CTA issued an RFP to three contracting teams pre-selected earlier this year — the FH Paschen, Ragnar Benson, Milhouse and BOWA Joint Venture; Kiewit Infrastructure; and Walsh VINCI Transit Community Partners, according to a Sept. 14 news release from the agency.

Dive Insight:

In addition to the extension, the project also contains a new rail yard and related rail facilities, and four new accessible stations near 103rd Street, 111th Street, Michigan Avenue and 130th Street. 

Each station would include bus, bike, pedestrian and parking facilities, according to the release. The remaining project funding will come from a $950 million transit tax increment financing plan approved by Chicago City Council last year, as well as other sources, according to CTA.

The project can now begin the engineering phase, which enables further planning work, identifies more potential grant money and will continue into 2024, according to the release. CTA anticipates a funding award by the end of next year, following federal review and approvals. 

Preconstruction work will start in 2024, and major construction will begin in 2025, CTA said.

“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,” said Dorval R. Carter, Jr., president of the CTA.

Infrastructure projects across the country are ramping up as the flood of money from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act hits municipalities, and end up in the hands of builders. Some of these projects include:

Chicago’s transit has also been the subject of previous expansion projects within the past few years. In December 2021, Walsh and Fluor teamed up to deliver a $1.3 billion major improvement of the Red and Purple lines.

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