CTA Receives $111 Million In Federal Funding to Advance Forest Park Branch Rebuild Project

March 13, 2024

Reconnecting Communities Grant will be used to replace Blue Line track between Kedzie and Pulaski

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) was awarded $111 million by the Department of Transportation’s Reconnecting Communities Grant Program, to be used to replace more than 10,000 feet of Blue Line track between Kedzie and Pulaski.

“This funding is a critically needed investment in the Forest Park Branch and allows us to continue to move forward on our promise to improve rail service on the west side,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “This grant reinforces the Biden-Harris’s Administration’s commitment to improving safety and equity through investments in public transit. We thank Senators Durbin and Duckworth, and the Illinois Delegation, for their support of this important project.”

The project is located within the East Garfield Park and West Garfield Park communities of Chicago. This track work will benefit riders in an area that has traditionally lower income households, a higher minority population, and more transit-dependent residents than the rest of the city.  The Blue Line track work between Pulaski and Kedzie is tentatively expected to begin in Summer 2027.

Reconnecting Communities is intended to advance community-centered transportation connection projects, with a priority for projects that benefit disadvantaged communities, that improve access to daily needs such as jobs, education, healthcare, food, nature, and recreation, and foster equitable development and restoration.

This grant represents the latest investment to support the Forest Park Branch Rebuild – a multi-year, multi-phased investment program to reconstruct the entire Forest Park Branch of the Blue Line and make it 100% accessible to those who use mobility devices. Starting last summer, the CTA rebuilt 15,000 feet or almost three miles of tracks between the LaSalle and Illinois Medical District (IMD) stations; demolished and began rebuilding the Racine station to meet modern accessibility guidelines; and upgraded the traction power system for improved service reliability as part of Phase 1 of the project. A vertically accessible Racine station is expected to reopen by the end of 2024.

About the Forest Park Branch Rebuild

Much of the infrastructure along the Forest Park Branch of the Blue Line is original, dating back to 1958, when Dwight D. Eisenhower was President. While we have performed routine maintenance and made modest improvements over the last six decades, the infrastructure is far beyond its useful life and needs replacement or significant upgrades to address issues impacting day-to-day service, including:

  • Only 4 of the 11 rail stations along the branch are vertically accessible to people who use mobility devices.
  • Overall speed and reliability of service has declined, with nearly 72 percent of the branch categorized as restricted “slow zones,” requiring trains to operate at drastically reduced speeds for safety.
  • Under the Forest Park Branch Rebuild, we will rebuild a total of seven (7) rail stations to make them meet modern accessibility guidelines; replace the entire trackbed and drainage system along the branch; and upgrade the traction power system to support the electrical needs of modern railcars to meet current and future ridership demands.

The CTA continues to work on securing funding needed to rebuild the entire Forest Park Branch. As funding becomes available, details regarding future phases of the Forest Park Branch Rebuild will be announced.


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