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Infrastructure trust and Red Line extension

Mayor Emanuel’s proposed infrastructure trust will be discussed at a community meeting on the Red Line extension in Roseland on Thursday.

Representatives of Grassroots Collaborative, the NAACP, AFSCME and other groups have been invited for a panel on “threats and opportunities” related to the infrastructure fund at the quarterly meeting of the Red Line Oversight Committee of the Developing Communities Project, said organizer John Paul Jones.

The meeting takes place at 11 a.m. on Thursday, April 19 at Lilydale First Baptist Church, 649 W. 113th Street.

DCP has been pushing since 2003 to extend rapid transit service to the city’s last unserved area.  After being on hold for decades, the project was approved by the CTA in 2009.

The project — which would extend the Red Line from 95th to 130th Street and add four new stations — is proceeding steadily, Jones said, with an environmental impact study and public outreach now underway.  Consultants conducting the environmental study are expected to report tomorrow.

Earlier this year the CTA hired Goldman Sachs, Loop Capital, and Estrada Hinojosa to serve as financial advisers for the modernization and extension of the Red Line.  Jones said it’s possible the infrastructure trust, if passed, could also come into play.

DCP executive director Gwen Rice said the group wants to weigh the benefits of public-private financing and make sure the community is at the table when decisions are made.  One of the group’s priorities is making sure that work on the extension goes to local residents, she said.


When the infrastructure trust was first announced on February 29, the city’s chief financial officer Lois Scott created a small stir by saying private financing for the Red Line extension could be paid for with distance-based fares.

In her new blog for the Center for Neighborhood Technology, CTA vice chair Jackie Grimshaw rejects the idea.

Read the rest of this entry »

Obama’s base

Wondering how President Obama is doing with his base?  You could check with the $35,000-a-head donors at his 50th birthday celebration at the Aragon Wednesday night. Or you could check in Thursday morning with his original base, the members of the Developing Communities Project in Roseland, where Obama was a community organizer from 1985 to 1988.

DCP members will be celebrating the day with a birthday cake.  They;ll also get a progress report on the Red Line Extenstion, which the group has advocated for many years (CTA is completing an environmental impact study).  And kids from DCP’s summer organizing camp will give a presentation on their transit projects.

The party starts at 11 a.m. on Thursday, August 4, at Lilydale First Baptist Church, 649 W. 113th.

Red Line to 130th

In hearings earlier this month, the CTA announced its endorsement of a Red Line extension project along the route backed by the Developing Communities Project (see 6-2-09 Newstip), which has been organizing for the extension for years.

That route — which the CTA reported was heavily favored in residents’ comments and in advisory referendums in the 8th and 34th wards — runs adjacent to the United Pacific rail line’s right-of-way with stations at 103rd, 111th, and 115th Streets, where it veers west along Cottage Grove to a terminal station at 130th.

DCP has a final push underway to generate community support for the proposal before the public comment period closes on Wednesday.  They’re also calling on Governor Quinn to add the Red Line extension to the state’s capital budget.

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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