The Chicago City Council has approved funding for the CTA Red Line Extension across the South Side. In the works for nearly 50 years, the extension would bring much needed transit from the current terminus of the line at 95th Street all the way down to 130th Street near Altgeld Gardens by Lake Calumet. Hoping to spur new economic development and connect more people to the city center, the project is being spearheaded by the CTA with help from Muller 2 Architects who also worked on the O’Hare Airport Terminal 5 expansion.
The 95th station was recently expanded and reconstructed in 2019, with the addition of a DJ booth and new bus station. The line will now continue with 5.6 miles and to four additional stations at 103rd Street, 111th Street, Michigan Avenue/116th Street, and the new terminus at 130th Street. Elevated tracks will connect from 95th to 119th Street, with ground level tracks continuing the rest of the way, the project will also bring a new rail yard, maintenance shop, and storage space on 120th near the Metra KYD facility.
Funding for the $3.6 billion project will come partially in the form of a new transit Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district the council established. TIF districts have long been a controversial part of the city with funds going towards projects long disputed by locals, with the new district boundaries stretching half a mile in either direction from the new tracks with residents and businesses within it not seeing an increase in taxes. This will help raise $950 million in funding which is the local requirement for a match from the Federal New Starts program.
With this secured and the necessary environmental impact studies performed, the CTA can now continue work past the 30-percent design phase it is currently completing and has begun searching for contractors via an RFQ. This and additional engineering work will take roughly a year to work through during which they will also secure the remaining necessary funds, with construction set to begin in 2025 and be completed around four years later in 2029.