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RTA: Chicago Mass Transit Needs $36B In Infrastructure Upgrades Through 2025

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Regional Transportation Authority analysis released Thursday has determined that the CTA, Metra and Pace face $36.4 billion in capital needs over the next 10 years.

The numbers astonished two suburban RTA board members. Director Blake Hobson said the number seems "staggeringly high" and director William Coulson called it "arbitrary." RTA Chairman Kirk Dillard said it's not, but said it matters little if the figures are "off a bit."

"Even if it's off by a small factor, they're still billions and billions and billions behind," he said.

Dillard announced formation of an interagency task force to step up the lobbying effort in Washington and Springfield.

At a separate meeting Thursday, Metra Board member Norman Carlson said many cities complain about infrastructure dating back to the Eisenhower administration. He said a key Metra junction has not been modernized since the 1930s, that the Electric District power system dates back to 1924, and said bridges scheduled for replacement on the Union Pacific North Line date to 1896 and 1897.


Carlson said some in Washington have no idea how old some of the Chicago area's mass transit infrastructure is.

"Someone allowed that some stuff went back to the Roosevelt administration, and they were kind of referring to FDR," he said. "We pointed out to them that we have infrastructure that pre-dates Teddy Roosevelt."

Dillard calls it a "red flag," said lawmakers need to be convinced that infrastructure investment pays dividends and said many millennials have chosen to be transit-dependent.

"Companies like Motorola. Ninety percent of their employees take mass transit at the Merchandise Mart, and I need to convince Gov. Rauner and the legislative leaders that mass transit leads to job creation."

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