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CTA reveals route, four new stations for Far South Side Red Line extension

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The news brings the long-discussed project one step closer to reality

A rendering of new station at 103rd Street.
City of Chicago

The planned extension of the Chicago Transit Authority’s Red Line from 95th Street south to 130th Street took a big step forward Friday as officials announced the proposed path for the long-overdue transit improvement project.

Departing from the soon-to-be-revamped 95th Street terminal, the “preferred alignment”—or route—would run along the west side of the Union Pacific Railroad line to about 109th Street. From there, it would move to the east side of the U.P. tracks and continue south, cross the Metra Electric tracks near 119th street, and finally terminate at 130th Street.

A map showing newly announced track alignment for Chicago’s southern Red Line extension.
City of Chicago

According to the CTA, the final alignment was reached based on feedback from the community and a desire to acquire as few private properties as possible. While earlier iterations of the extension could have consumed as many as 259 parcels, the current plan limits acquisitions to 154 privately owned lots, reports the Chicago Tribune.

In addition to 5.3 miles of new track, the extension calls for the creation of four new stations at 103rd Street, 111th Street, Michigan Avenue near 115th Street, and—of course—a 130th Street terminal in the Far South Side community of Riverdale.

The news is a key milestone for an infrastructure project that will bring vital rail service to residents of Chicago’s Far South Side as well as “the jobs and economic opportunities that go with it,” said Mayor Emanuel in a statement.

Construction on the $2.3 billion undertaking is dependent on funding and will require the CTA to seek financing from both local and federal governmental sources. The creation of a transit-specific Tax Increment Financing district for the project is a possibly, but so far no decision regarding TIF has been made.

If the city can secure funding, construction could begin in 2022. Once underway, the project will take an estimated four years to complete. In the meantime, the CTA will complete an environmental impact study required to apply for more than $1 billion in federal money.

An open house to present details of the alignment plan to local residents has been set for Feb. 13 at 6 p.m. at the Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy gymnasium at 250 E. 111th Street.