CTA Awarded $35 Million In Funding Through Core Capacity Program Created By Durbin

As first project in America funded under new program, Red and Purple Line Modernization will improve Chicago’s ability to meet growing demand for transit

[CHICAGO, IL] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mayor Rahm Emanuel and U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (D-IL-05) today announced that the CTA will receive $35 million in funding through the Federal Transit Authority (FTA)'s Core Capacity Program


CTA became the first transit system accepted into the FTA's new Core Capacity Program in November 2013 and has begun moving forward on the environmental work necessary for design and construction of the planned rebuilding of the Red and Purple Lines.


“Before the 2012 transportation bill, dozens of existing, aging transit systems like Chicago’s were unable to compete for federal funds dedicated to expanding public transportation systems,” said Durbin.  “I worked to establish the Core Capacity program to recognize that repairing and expanding these old systems was just as important as establishing new ones.  Because Mayor Emanuel and the CTA seized the opportunity, the Red and Purple Line Modernization is now the first project in the country to receive funding through the new program.  Chicago's future depends on our ability to improve our existing infrastructure to meet new demand.  This job-creating project will do that by helping CTA double the capacity of its most used rail lines.”


Today’s funding is provided through the FY2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill which included $120 million for a competitive grant program created by Durbin as a member of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) Conference Committee.  His goal was to level the playing field by allowing existing mass transit lines (or “core capacity” projects), like the CTA's Red and Purple Lines, to compete for FTA funding under the “New Starts” grant program.  Previously, only extensions or new transit lines could compete for the funding, making the vast majority of CTA projects ineligible.


“This investment is another critical piece in our efforts to ensure the Red Line offers safe and efficient service, modern stations, and enhanced customer services from 95th Street to Howard,” said Mayor Emanuel.  “As the backbone of the CTA system carrying more than 40 percent of riders each year, the Red Line has been a key part of the overall system's unprecedented investment over the last three years, from new and improved stations, buses and trains to technologies that make commuting safer and more convenient.”


“For far too long lack of federal funding allowed our public transportation systems to deteriorate, eroding efficiency and safety,” Quigley said. “The new Core Capacity grants will fund desperately needed improvements to heavily-used transit systems like the CTA, creating jobs and improving our infrastructure in the process. This project is a prime example of how working together at all levels of government – the House, Senate and the city of Chicago back home – can secure important investments that strengthen Chicago’s future.”


In June 2013, the Senate Appropriations Committee, of which Durbin is a member, approved a Fiscal Year 2014 Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill that included approximately $2 billion for the 'New Starts' grant program.  Of that funding, $120 million was set aside for the Durbin-authored core capacity program that the Red and Purple Lines were accepted in November of last year.


MAP-21 made significant changes to streamline the federal permitting and rating process for 'New Starts' projects. These new provisions were included at Durbin's urging to increase the efficiency and reduce the time necessary to move toward construction of nationally significant transit projects.  CTA will now have two years to complete planning and environmental work necessary for the Department of Transportation to determine if there is adequate justification and local financial commitment for the project to receive a full funding grant agreement from the federal government.