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President Biden proposes $350 million in funds for Red Line extension project

President Biden proposes $350 million to extend Red Line
President Biden proposes $350 million to extend Red Line 02:00

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Hopes for a Red Line extension advance. President Joe Biden's proposed 2024 federal budget includes $350 million for the CTA's plan to extend 5.6 miles further south.

The plan is to take the Red Line from its current southern terminal at 95th Street and extend the route to a new terminal at 130th Street.

One of the biggest hurdles in this project is money. With a total price tag of $3.6 billion, the federal money Biden is proposing would cover less than 10% of the projected cost.

Biden's proposal comes three months after the City Council approved the creation of a new tax increment (TIF) district to generate $959 million in funding for the project.

CTA Red Line Extension 103rd Street
Rendering of plans for a new Red Line stop at 103rd Street near Eggleston Avenue, as part of the CTA's Red Line Extension project. CTA

A lot more money than the $350 million in federal funding proposed by the president is needed to make the project happen.

The city is seeking a total of $2.2 billion from the feds, but it's unclear when any further federal funding might come through.

"The CTA is embarking on something that's really going to test their fundraising abilities, but I do think now we have the wind at our back getting this thing going. It is going to be a real milestone to have this funding really accelerate construction," DePaul University transportation expert Joe Schwiterman said.

Schweiterman said, worst case, the CTA can start the project without all the funding in place while lobbying for additional money down the road.

But commuters say their time is valuable too.

"I'm gonna take this bus to the Red Line, then I'm going to get on the Red Line, then I'm gonna get off the Red Line, then I'm gonna get on another bus. So that's a lot ," commuter Maquecia Martin said as she boarded a Michigan Avenue bus at 111th Street for the first leg of her journey after work.

She said it takes her 3 to 4 hours total each day to commute to her home care job; shifts that last 5 hours. A Red Line extension would be invaluable, with four new proposed stops on the Far South Side: 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.

Red Line Extension
CTA graphic showing the proposed route of the Red Line Extension project, including four new stops. CTA

The CTA has estimated the project could reduce public transit commute times significantly for the Far South Side.

According to the CTA, a trip from 130th Street to 95th Street would take 12 minutes, with a trip from 130th Street to the Loop taking approximately 40 minutes. That would be 30 minutes faster than taking a bus trip to 95th Street to get downtown, or about an hour faster roundtrip.

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