The Chicago Transit Board today approved an ordinance to amend CTA's 2007 capital budget including reprogramming
$29 million that had been obligated to support debt service for the Full Funding Grant Agreement for the rehabilitation of the 54th/Cermak branch. In 2005, CTA completed construction to rebuild the tracks and supporting structure, and eight stations on the 54th/Cermak Blue Line, now the Pink Line.
"The efficient management of the project allowed the rebuild of the 54th/Cermak branch to be completed on time and under budget, which now affords us the opportunity to take the millions saved and direct it toward other critical improvement projects this year," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?The more successful we are with our capital improvement projects the more competitive we become for federal funding for future projects."
The amendment to the 2007 capital budget increases funding by $34 million to $469 million. In addition to the $29 million reprogrammed from the Blue Line Full Funding Grant Agreement, adjustments were also made to match available grants and to fund specific projects.
The CTA's long-standing capital goal is to reach what is known in the transit industry as a 'state of good repair." To achieve and maintain a state of good repair requires continued investment. CTA operates on a 24/7 basis with a heavy and growing daily demand. Timely maintenance and replacement of aging assets is necessary to keep trains and buses running, to keep facilities safe and efficient, to incorporate technologies that will improve service for customers, and to control future costs.
In recent years the CTA has made significant progress in its capital program thanks to federal funding and the state's last capital program, Illinois FIRST, which provided the CTA with more than $800 million in investment between 2000 and 2004 and enabled it to leverage federal funding.
Illinois FIRST expired in 2004 and there is currently no state program to provide the necessary matching funds to secure federal funding for major improvement projects. Without a consistent source of funding CTA is placed in the unenviable position of having to continually catch up if and when funding does become available rather than focus on investing in and growing the system.
CTA projects that $10.7 billion is needed to bring the system to a state of good repair and continue to provide safe and reliable service and meet growing transit needs. Of the projected
$10.7 billion need, $5.8 billion is unfunded.
?Despite the recent success in securing funding, the reality is that too few funds have been spread too thinly over too many needs for too long," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown. ?Maintaining infrastructure as old and vast as CTA's is a challenge that requires dedicated funding."
With proper funding CTA could advance more rapidly toward a state of good repair, accelerating the renovation of century-old rail lines, replacement of worn-out buses and trains, and refurbishment of maintenance facilities. Service frequency and hours of operation could expand to tap new markets, relieve overcrowding, and increase transit's competitiveness with the automobile. # # #