One Big Step Forward, One Small Step Back for Chicago Red Line Extension

A big approval and a significant delay—but otherwise 2020 has been a positive year for plans to extend the Chicago Transit Authority's Red Line by 5.6 miles to the south.

2 minute read

December 28, 2020, 6:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

CTA El Train

A woman waits at a bus stop near the CTA station on the Blue Line in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago. | Page Light Studios / Shutterstock

"The Chicago Transit Authority’s planned Red Line extension has made a 'significant' step toward securing about $1 billion in federal funds, the transit agency announced Monday," reports Stefano Esposito.

The $1 billion in necessary federal funding became a significant step closer to reality after the Federal Transit Administration gave preliminary approval for the extension that will add 5.6 miles to the Red Line, extending south of the Chicago city limits.

"The CTA now has two years to complete the next phase, which includes finalizing the project’s environmental impact statement and drawing up preliminary engineering documents," according to Esposito.

The step forward for the extension was cut with a step back, as Chicago Transit Authority officials announced that the timeline for the project's completion had been pushed back by three years, with an expected opening data now set for 2029.

Other than the delay, the extension's prospects are looking much more certain. Here's how a separate article by John Greenfield sums up the political dynamics influencing the project's future now:

Of course, even the 2029 start date assumes that the feds will come through with the $1 billion grant. But that possibility became a lot more likely with the election of Joe Biden, a noted rail fan. His appointment of former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, who advocated for the extension of the South Shore Line commuter railroad into that city’s downtown, and rented a condo next door to the the [sic] Red Line’s Monroe station when he lived in Chicago in the late 2000s, probably won’t hurt either.

Planetizen last checked in with the plan in November 2020, after the release of the CTA's preferred plan for the extension's tracks and stations.

Monday, December 21, 2020 in Chicago Sun-Times

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