CTA awards contract for $1.2 billion Red Line project

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An inbound CTA Purple Line train passes through Chicago's Lincoln Park area in October. The CTA has approved contracts for a major reconstruction of the Red and Purple lines north of this location.
TRAINS: David Lassen

CHICAGO — The Chicago Transit Authority board of directors on Wednesday approved more than a billion dollars in contracts for major rebuilding and expansion of lines on Chicago’s north and far south sides.

A $1.2 billion contract was approved to modernize the Red and Purple lines, with the selection of a team to design and build the first phase of the project focusing on century-old rail lines on the north side. 

The CTA also hired a program manager at a cost of $20.9 million to oversee environmental and preliminary engineering work on another major Red Line project extending the line to the far south side. That $2.3 billion project is currently unfunded, however.

The 22-mile Red Line is the CTA’s busiest, carrying more than 30 percent of rail riders, or more than 75 million riders annually.

“The Red Line forms the backbone of the CTA and our city, and our investment in the Red Line will increase access to quality rail transportation for future riders of the CTA and offer customers faster, more reliable service,” CTA President Dorval R. Carter Jr. said in a statement. 

Extending the Red Line south to 130th Street would bring economic opportunity to the far south side, he said. 

According to the CTA, the Walsh-Fluor Design Build Team was awarded the $1.2 billion contract to engineer, design and build the Red and Purple modernization phase one.  The contracting team will be responsible for building new Red and Purple line infrastructure. This includes reconstructing four stations into larger, ADA accessible facilities and replacing 100-year-old track structure. 

The project includes a bypass that will improve service reliability on the Red, Purple and Brown lines, increasing train speeds, easing overcrowding on rail cars, and providing capacity for projected future growth. Brown Line trains have to cross the other lines’ tracks before they can proceed north, forcing other trains to wait.

A new signal system will be installed on 23 track miles between Howard and Belmont that will improve CTA train flow and increase service reliability, the agency said.

Next year, the CTA and Walsh-Fluor will hold public meetings as design and construction planning begins. 

The first phase of the Red and Purple project was announced in 2014 and the $2.1 billion price tag is fully funded by federal and local money, the CTA said. Currently the CTA is performing advance utility relocation work, which includes removing wires and poles and relocating utility equipment ahead of major construction, expected in the latter half of 2019. CTA is also close to completing property demolition work in the project areas.

The separate contract of $20.9 million to HNTB Corp. is to serve as program manager for the Red Line Extension.  The program manager will oversee final environmental review and preliminary engineering work necessary to ultimately seek federal funding for the project, the agency said. 

The CTA plans to seek more than $1 billion in federal funds toward the estimated $2.3 billion total cost of the project.

The three-year contract includes seven one-year extension options. 

The proposed 5.3-mile extension would include four new stations. In January 2018, the CTA announced a preferred alignment for the project, part of which would travel along the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. 

A major step in the extension project will be to produce a final Environmental Impact Study that will include further preliminary engineering work and will analyze impacts of the proposed alignment. 

The CTA said it expects to apply to the Federal Transit Administration for entry into the two-year Project Development Phase for this project, a necessary step to pursue federal funding under the competitive federal New Starts program. 

“For Chicago to continue to be a world-class city, it has to have world-class transit service to connect residents to jobs, education, culture and above all opportunity,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “We’ve seen countless businesses make decision to locate in Chicago because of our attractive transportation network, proof that modernizing CTA rail service is an effective strategy for economic growth and creates a seamless, safe, and reliable transportation system for every neighborhood.”

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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