CTA Poised to Benefit from Funding of New "Core Capacity" Program

January 17, 2014
Program Created by Senator Durbin in 2012 Receives $120 Million in Funding
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Transit Authority President Forrest Claypool and U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (D-IL-05) today said that as the only transit system currently accepted into the FTA’s Core Capacity Program, the CTA is poised to benefit from the infusion of funding included in the FY 2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which was passed on a bipartisan Senate vote yesterday and now moves to President Obama’s desk for his signature. Every member of Illinois’ congressional delegation supported the bill.
The bill provides $120 million to the competitive grant fund Durbin created in 2012 as a member of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) Conference Committee.  His goal was to level the playing field by allowing existing mass transit lines (or “core capacity” projects), like the CTA’s Red and Purple Lines, to compete for FTA funding under the “New Starts” grant program. Previously, only extensions or new transit lines could compete for the funding, making the vast majority of CTA projects ineligible. 
CTA became the first transit system accepted into the FTA’s new Core Capacity Program in November 2013 and has begun moving forward on the environmental work necessary for design and construction of the planned rebuilding of the Red and Purple Lines. 
“For decades, existing, aging transit systems like Chicago’s have had the decks stacked against them in terms of federal funding available for updates and improvements,” Durbin said. “I worked to establish the Core Capacity program in the 2012 transportation bill because that equation needed to change. Mayor Emanuel and CTA were quick to seize the opportunity. Now, as the only transit system currently accepted into the program, the CTA is poised to be the first to benefit from this funding once the President signs this bill into law. Chicago’s future depends on our ability to improve our existing infrastructure to meet new demand.  This job-creating project will do that by helping CTA double the capacity of its most used rail lines.”
"The City of Chicago is focused on building a 21st century public transportation infrastructure to match our rapidly growing economy,” Emanuel said. “We are grateful for Senator Durbin’s leadership on this issue, since this investment by the Federal Government will help to continue to put more people to work, improve stations and rail lines, and promote continued economic growth.”
"We appreciate Sen. Durbin's efforts to make this project both eligible for federal funding and his more recent work to secure funding in 2014 for Core Capacity projects that can greatly benefit the proposed capacity expansion of Chicago's busiest rail line, and thank the Senator and Mayor Emanuel for their leadership on transit investment," Claypool said.  "The Red Purple Modernization program is critical in the near future to alleviating overcrowding - but the long-term benefits are critical for Chicago's future, benefitting generations of future CTA customers."
“Core capacity grants will fund desperately needed improvements to heavily-used transit systems like the CTA, creating jobs and improving our infrastructure in the process,” Quigley said. “As Illinois’ only member of the House Appropriations Committee, I’ll continue fighting for increased funding for programs like this that invest in Chicago’s future.
In June 2013, the Senate Appropriations Committee, of which Durbin is a member, approved a Fiscal Year 2014 Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill that included approximately $2 billion for the ‘New Starts’ grant program.  Of that funding, $120 million was set aside for the Durbin-authored core capacity program that the Red and Purple Lines were accepted in November of last year.
MAP-21 made significant changes to streamline the federal permitting and rating process for ‘New Starts’ projects. These new provisions were included at Durbin’s urging to increase the efficiency and reduce the time necessary to move toward construction of nationally significant transit projects.  CTA will now have two years to complete planning and environmental work necessary for the Department of Transportation to determine if there is adequate justification and local financial commitment for the project to receive a full funding grant agreement from the federal government.
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