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Red Line extension moves forward

The long-awaited Red Line extension takes a significant step forward this week, as the CTA presents its proposed route at two community meetings on the Far South Side.

For more than 35 years residents have called for extending the Red Line to 130th Street to cover the only area of the city that lacks rapid transit service. For over two years CTA has been conducting alternatives analyses for possible routes.

Community support for the extension has been shepherded by the Red Line Oversight Committee of the Developing Communities Project of Roseland. The committee has supported a route which uses existing rail right-of-ways to serve commerical strips as well as Altgeld Gardens and the Ford Plant on 130th Street. Other routes that were studied followed the Bishop Ford Expressway and I-57.

Following a public comment period running through June 18, the CTA’s choice will be submitted for approval under the federal New Starts program. The alternatives analysis is the first of five steps — next is an environmental impact study, followed by preliminary engineering, final design, and construction — each of which could take two years or more, said Wanda Taylor of the CTA.

This week DCP is blitzing Greater Roseland with information on the CTA presentations (including the 95th Street station during rush hour today), urging residents to attend a meeting, comment on the plans, and particularly to contact elected officials to ensure that the state come up with funding for the next phase of the project.

The state’s new capital budget only funds maintenance and repair of the existing transit infrastructure, said Diane Palmer of the RTA. At this point expansion of the Red Line and other plans “would not be able to go forward” because state funding needed to draw down federal funds isn’t there, she said.

Meanwhile federal New Start funds are being awarded to other states, said Brian Imus of Illinois PIRG. Illinois is falling behind in meeting the transportation needs of an era with rising gas prices and growing concern about climate change and congestion, he said.

The CTA meetings take place Wednesday, June 3, at 6 p.m. in the cafeteria of Olive Harvey College, 10001 S. Woodlawn, and Thursday, June 4, at 6 p.m. at the Carter Woodson Regional Library, 9525 S. Halsted.

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Category: Roseland, transportation

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