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CTA Picks Contract For Red Line Work; 30 Percent To Go To Minority, Women-Owned Firms

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Chicago Transit Authority has selected a contractor to handle the massive rehabilitation project for the South Red Line, and the firm will subcontract about 30 percent of the work to minority- and women-owned businesses.

The CTA selected Chicago-based Kiewit Infrastructure Corporation for the project, which will force the agency to shut down the Red Line below the Cermak-Chinatown stop for five months complete track restoration and other upgrades. The firm submitted the lowest bid of $220.1 million, and is considered the most qualified.

The firm slightly exceeded the CTA's target of 28 percent of the work being subcontracted to minority- and women-owned firms, or "disadvantaged business enterprises." Kiewit will subcontract 29.3 percent of the work to outside firms – a portion of the work worth $66.5 million.

A total of 60.6 percent of the work is going to African-American firms, 23.8 percent to Hispanic firms, 3.5 percent to Asian firms, and 12. 1 percent to women-owned firms, the CTA said.

Another transit agency infuriated several elected officials earlier this year when it awarded less than $100,000 of its $133 million contract to minority- and women-owned firms. U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) led a march against Metra in May, after the agency announced its contracting plan for the construction of the Englewood flyover bridge.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Gov. Pat Quinn also took issue with Metra's lack of minority firms on the Englewood Flyover project.

The CTA soon afterward assured the public that minority- and women-owned firms would command a fair share of the work on the Red Line project.

"We have said since the beginning of this effort that we would do everything we could to encourage (disadvantaged business enterprise) participation and have never wavered in our effort to make that a reality," Chicago Transit Board Chairman Terry Peterson said in a news release.

The project begins in the spring of 2013, and will involve the complete reconstruction of the south Red Line -- including all track, ties, ballasts and drainage systems.

The $425 million project is the second round of heavy overhaul on the line since 2004, although CTA officials say this will be the most complete renovation since the line opened in 1969.

Peterson has said his goal is to operate trains, without slow zones, at a minimum of 55 miles an hour. The shutdown will allow the work to be completed in five months instead of an estimated four years if limited to off-peak and weekend hours. CTA expects train schedules to be shortened by 10 minutes once the work is completed in the fall of 2013.

The CTA will also provide shuttle buses to Green Line rail stations as an alternative during the Red Line project. The closures affect nine stations, between the 95th Street terminal and the Roosevelt 'L' station. (See map below)

CTA Tentative
Here is the tentative re-route plan for the CTA Red line. (Credit: CTA)
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