August 25, 2010

CTA System is One of the “Core Strengths” of Chicago’s Economy, He Says Announcing Start of Work on New Morgan Street Station on Green/Pink Lines

Maintaining and improving the CTA system always has been -- and always will be -- one of the highest priorities of city government, Mayor Richard M. Daley said today at the future site of the CTA’s new $38 million Morgan Street station on the Green and Pink lines.
“A modern public transportation system is essential to the future of our city. It is vital to our economic security and to our ability to recruit new businesses and create new jobs,” Daley said. 
Daley called the CTA system “one of the core strengths” of Chicago’s economy and said the City and transit officials have worked hard to improve it, even during the current recession.
The new station will add a stop between the existing Clinton and Ashland stations on the Green/Pink lines and serve the rapidly developing West Loop neighborhood. It will also generate more than 250 construction-related jobs.
In recent years, thousands of residential units have been built in the West Loop neighborhood and dozens of retail shops and restaurants have joined the long-established food suppliers and manufacturers to make it one of the City’s most vibrant areas, the Mayor said.
“This is the first new rail station to be built in 10 years and it is a perfect example of our strong commitment to continued capital investment in the CTA,” Daley said.
It is a joint project of the CTA and the City’s Department of Transportation, which is important because the City’s participation frees up other CTA capital funds that can be used to improve other parts of the system.
“CDOT has worked closely with the CTA for more than two decades to improve and expand transit stations,” said CDOT Commissioner Bobby L. Ware. “This station will provide dividends for decades to come.”
Daley said the City is investing $30 million in funding from the Kinzie Industrial Corridor Tax Increment Financing District as its contribution to the $38 million project. The remainder comes from the Federal Transit Administration.
Including this project, the City has invested more than $1 billion in CTA infrastructure improvements since 1989.
These include building the Orange Line in 1993 and renovating numerous downtown stations, including the $67 million rehabilitation of the Grand and State Red Line station that’s currently under way.
“The CTA is a great system, but it is also an old one and it requires continual maintenance and investment to remain reliable,” said Terry Peterson, Chicago Transit Board Chairman. “We appreciate the City’s long-time investment in the CTA. We are also counting on the state to come through with its funding commitment so that we will have a solid capital investment program for the coming year.”   
Through the proposed mini-capital bill in 2009 and the Illinois Jobs Now Program the State of Illinois has committed $1.3 billion to the CTA over the next five years. Recently the Governor announced that the CTA will receive $253 million of the Illinois Jobs funds. Once those funds are received, the agency is ready with a list of projects that include overhauling buses, rehabilitating bus garages and rail stations, upgrading substations and replacing track to eliminate and prevent slow zones. 
“CTA has become quite skilled at doing a great deal with limited resources, something we have demonstrated repeatedly in recent years,” said CTA President Richard L. Rodriguez. “Last year, CTA secured $241 million dollars in capital funding through the federal stimulus bill which we used to replace track to eliminate and prevent slow zones in the Dearborn subway, purchase 58 new hybrid articulated buses, rehabilitate existing bus and rail cars and we’re using stimulus funds to renovate and repair the Cermak Red Line station.”
Not all of CTA capital improvement projects were tied to stimulus funds. Prior to the stimulus funds, CTA was able to secure federal and local funding to rehabilitate the Howard Red Line station and complete one of the largest capital undertakings by the agency, the Brown Line Capacity Expansion project.
The agency is also in the midst of testing the prototype of new rail cars that will replace the oldest cars currently in service.
Daley said that future projects for CTA -- to which the City is fully committed -- include repairing and renovating the north branch of the Red Line and Purple Line, refining plans and seeking federal support to extend the Red, Orange and Yellow rail lines and continuing the process of seeking a private partner to help modernize the fare system by introducing an open fare system.
Looking to the future, Daley challenged CTA management to build on its commitment to a quality system that is on time, that quickly gets people to their destination and that is safe.
“We have a long history of investing in transit infrastructure. This station is a part of that history, and it’s a part of our future, too,” the mayor said.
“It’s one of the many important steps we are taking that are fundamental to a better quality of life and the creation of economic opportunity across our city,” he said.
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