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Work about to begin on long-awaited Red Line Extension on Chicago's South Side

Advance work to begin for Red Line Extension project
Advance work to begin for Red Line Extension project 01:50

CHICAGO (CBS) -- As the CTA prepares to extend the Red Line south to 130th Street, residents of the Far South Side are weighing in on whether the project is good for them.

Advance work is expected to begin on the Red Line Extension this summer. The CTA plans to extend the Red Line by 5.6 miles from the 95th Street terminal to 130th Street, with four new stations: 103rd Street and 111th Street near Eggleston Avenue, Michigan Avenue near 116th Street, and 130th Street near the Bishop Ford Freeway, just north of Altgeld Gardens.

The CTA will also build a new rail yard and related rail facilities near 120th Street.   

The CTA has said the project would shave 30 minutes of commute times between the Far South Side and downtown by reducing the need to transfer from buses to trains.

The Far South Side has been promised the Red Line extension since Mayor Richard J. Daley proposed the project in 1969, but decades of promised funding have not come through.

The $3.6 billion project relies on approximately $2 billion in federal funding and a new $959 tax increment financing district approved by the City Council in 2022. The CTA has said it also anticipates getting another $365 million in state funding and more than $180 million in CTA bond funds for the project.

Crews will soon remove utility lines and demolish property along the route to make way for the new tracks. The actual groundbreaking will happen in late 2025.

CTA has acquired properties located in the future track alignment. Demolition is expected to begin in late summer or fall.

At a community meeting Tuesday night, some neighbors expressed doubts about whether the extension would genuinely help the community.

One man, who asked to remain anonymous, said he believes few South Side residents and businesses will benefit from the project and that companies from outside Chicago will get most of the contracts.

"They have advertised in other cities before they have advertised in the community that is best going to be affected and served by that," he said. "I expect this to be another gentrification plan in the long run."

 Others expressed doubts about whether anything would be done to make the Red Line safer from crime.

"I would like to get on the train and go downtown just to go, just for lunch, just for fun, but I'm afraid," Pat Wells said.

Other South Siders said they want the jobs created by the project to go to people who live on the South Side, bringing economic benefits there.

Two more community meetings are planned on June 25 and June 26.

  • 21st Ward (Ald. Ronnie Mosley): This ward includes future Red Line stations at 103rd Street and 111th Street
  • Date and time: Tuesday, June 25, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. 
  • Location: RLE Community Office, 401 W. 111th St.
  • 10th Ward (Ald. Peter Chico): This ward includes the future Red Line station at 130th Street.
  • Date and time: Wednesday, June 26, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. 
  • Location: Chicago Public Library, Altgeld Gardens, 955 E 131st St.

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