Q: What is the Red Line Extension?
A: The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is proposing to extend the Red Line from the existing terminal at 95th/Dan Ryan to 130th Street, subject to the availability of funding. The proposed 5.6-mile extension would include four new stations near 103rd Street, 111th Street, Michigan Avenue, and 130th Street. Each new station would include bus and parking facilities. This project is one part of the Red Ahead Program to extend and enhance the entire Red Line.
Q. Which communities does the RLE project serve?
A: The RLE project would run through areas of the Roseland, Washington Heights, West Pullman and Riverdale community areas. RLE stations would be located in each of these communities:
- 103rd Street station: Roseland and Washington Heights
- 111th Street station: Roseland
- Michigan Avenue station: West Pullman
- 130th Street station: Riverdale
The RLE project would also serve residents and businesses in a wider area, including five surrounding community areas in the City of Chicago – Beverly, Morgan Park, Pullman, Hegewisch and South Deering – as well as the Village of Calumet Park. The project area includes residential housing, industrial properties and commercial development.
Q: Why is the CTA extending the Red Line?
A: The RLE project will expand rapid transit to Chicago’s southern border and create increased access to jobs, education and opportunities for residents on the Far South Side. Specifically, the RLE project supports:
- Equity, by providing affordable rapid transit to historically underserved communities and improving mobility for transit-dependent residents and people with disabilities
- Connectivity and access to the entire city via the CTA network
- Economic opportunity through connections to jobs, educational opportunities, housing and other services, as well as economic development on the City's Far South Side
- Frequent rail service will reduce commute times
- Sustainable transportation that helps contribute to improved air quality, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and saves energy
Q: What are the potential economic benefits of the Red Line Extension?
A: The RLE project would foster economic development in the project area, as new stations could serve as catalysts for neighborhood revitalization, spur the development of more livable, transit-supportive communities, and help reverse decades of disinvestment in local business districts. Increased transit access would attract customers and visitors from outside the community to local businesses, landmarks and cultural centers, bolstering community investment.
For example, people commuting to and from the new RLE Michigan Avenue station could help spur economic development, making the station the southern anchor of a commercially vibrant Michigan Avenue Corridor.
The RLE project would result in a 46% increase in newly accessible jobs within an hour commute of the RLE project area. These economic benefits could be life altering to historically underinvested and disproportionately low-income and minority communities in the Far South Side. Twenty-four percent of residents in the RLE project area live below the poverty level, compared to a Chicago average of 19 percent, and the majority are African American.
Q: What is the Red Ahead Program?
A: The RLE project is one part of the Red Ahead Program, a comprehensive initiative to extend and enhance the entire Red Line. The Red Ahead Program consists of separate projects with their own separate sources of potential funding and timelines. These projects are mutually beneficial and are combined into the Red Ahead Program so they are coordinated efficiently.
Q: The CTA has renovated the 95th Street Terminal. How will the 95th Street Terminal and the Red Line Extension work together?
A: The RLE project would function seamlessly with the recently reconstructed 95th Street Terminal to provide improved transit service throughout Chicago’s Far South Side. More information about the 95th Street Terminal Improvement Project is available here.
The 95th/Dan Ryan station is a critical piece of the CTA’s Red Line. It currently connects Far South Side communities to job centers throughout the region and serves as a transit gateway for the South Side and suburbs. By expanding beyond the 95th/Dan Ryan station and building four new stations on the Far South Side, the CTA seeks to improve rapid transit rail service to isolated areas and provide viable linkages between affordable housing, jobs, services, and educational opportunities, thereby enhancing livability and neighborhood vitality. Riders of existing CTA bus routes that serve the Far South Side, many of which currently connect to the Red Line at the 95th/Dan Ryan station, would have the opportunity to board at one of the new RLE stations, which would provide up to 20 minutes of time savings per trip.
Q: What are the proposed operating hours for the Red Line Extension?
A: The operating hours for RLE are anticipated to be the same as for the current Red Line, which operates 24 hours, every day of the year.
Q: Will there be places to park near the new stations, and why is so much parking needed?
A: Yes. The RLE stations will accommodate passengers arriving by car. Using travel demand modeling, the CTA has estimates of the parking demand needed along the Preferred Alignment. The CTA is currently conducting additional analysis and review of parking needs near stations and as part of the ongoing project development and engineering studies.
Q. Will there be access to the new stations by bus and bicycle?
A: Existing bus routes may be adjusted to complement the new high-capacity transit service. Depending on the specific route of the service, the number of routes feeding into the 95th/Dan Ryan Terminal may be reduced, which would also reduce congestion in and around this facility. RLE stations would be accessible by bicycle using existing on-street bike lanes on 103rd, 111th, 115th, and State Streets. In addition, there may be opportunities in the future to connect stations to proposed bike lanes and off-street paths. Station areas would be designed to accommodate future bicycle parking and Divvy bike share stations, and would not hinder future development of bike facilities.
Q: Would the Red Line Extension connect to existing Metra Electric or South Shore services?
A: There is potential for connection of the proposed Red Line Extension to the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) South Shore Commuter Rail Line near 130th Street. Currently, the NICTD South Shore commuter service does not have a 130th Street station, and at this time they do not have future plans to include a 130th Street station. As proposed by the CTA in 2020, and under evaluation in the Supplemental Environmental Assessment (EA), the RLE 130th Street station may be relocated to south of 130th Street. Transfer to NICTD South Shore services would be possible though an indirect connection requiring walking between the RLE station and the NICTD station (if ever implemented in the future). This potential connection will be explored in further detail during the engineering phase.
A direct connection between RLE and Metra Electric District at Kensington/115th Street station is not possible because the proposed RLE Preferred Alignment crosses the Metra Electric District Line approximately ½ mile south of the Kensington/115th Street station. However, transfer between the RLE Michigan Avenue station and Kensington/115th Street station would be possible using bus or pedestrian connections.
Q: Is the CTA coordinating with Metra on the Red Line Extension project?
A: Yes, the CTA is coordinating with Metra on the RLE project. Metra is a participating agency in the environmental review process for the project.
Funding, Construction and Service Timeline
Q: What is the timeline for construction and service?
A: The timing of construction and start of service is dependent on federal approvals and funding availability. As the project progresses, and additional information is available (e.g., engineering, construction methods, federal approvals, funding, others), the CTA will revise and update the timeline and share this information with stakeholders and the public. The CTA is committed to actively moving this project forward in order to bring much-needed rapid transit rail service to Far South Side residents and communities.
Q: Would the CTA need to purchase private property because of the location of the Red Line Extension?
A: Yes, the CTA would need to purchase private property to construct the RLE project. For more information and additional FAQs related to displacements, please see the Potential Property Displacements page. Residents and property owners whose properties will be needed have already been contacted by the CTA.
Q: Will project personnel perform any work in the project area prior to the beginning of construction?
A: Engineering survey teams will be in the project area intermittently to perform field work and data collection. The field measurements collected by these teams will be used in preparing the preliminary engineering documents and the Final EIS.
Q: How would the CTA fund the Red Line Extension project?
A: The CTA is pursuing a wide range of federal, state, and local funding sources, including the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Capital Investment Grant Program. The CTA is also considering a number of options at this time that include a special transit-only tax-increment financing district, authorized by the General Assembly in June 2016, which could provide a portion of the local funding needed for the RLE project.
Q: What is the federal Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program funding and why does the CTA have to go through such a lengthy process?
A: The is a discretionary funding source that helps fund major transit capital investment projects. The CTA is seeking to use CIG funds for the RLE project. A category of CIG funds known as New Starts is available for projects that expand rail service into an area that is not within the current transit footprint, and therefore entail a relatively longer environmental and planning process. The CTA must compete with other New Starts projects across the country that are also seeking funding from the program.
Q: Which alignment option did the CTA select?
A: Based on previously conducted project planning and engineering work, the CTA selected a Preferred Alignment in 2018. The Preferred Alignment is a combination of the previously presented Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) East and West options. As such, the Preferred Alignment would run along the west side of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks (from I-57 south to approximately 108th Place), then would cross the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and run along the east side of the tracks until crossing the Metra Electric tracks (near 119th Street) and continue south to 130th Street. See the project map.
The Preferred Alignment captures the benefits, minimizes the impacts of either option and incorporates the public and agency feedback received on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The Preferred Alignment would have fewer impacts than either the East or West options. It would affect fewer residences than the East Option, and fewer businesses and jobs than the West Option. Noise and vibration impacts would not be greater than those anticipated under either the East or West Option.
Q: Is the CTA still considering alternative alignments along Halsted Avenue or other Bus Rapid Transit improvements?
A: No. These alternatives were considered early in the environmental review process as potential alternatives. These alternatives have been eliminated based on additional technical analysis and public input received. In August 2014, the CTA announced that the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) Alternative is the NEPA Preferred Alternative. The CTA prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which analyzed the benefits and impacts of locating the line either to the east or west of the UPRR tracks. Based on public input and further planning and engineering conducted, the UPRR Preferred Alignment was selected in 2018. The Preferred Alignment is a combination of the previously presented East and West options.
CTA news release (8/10/2014)
Q: Previously, the CTA was considering using the existing Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) right-of-way to construct the RLE. Is that still under consideration?
A: No. The CTA had previously considered an option that would have used the existing UPRR right-of-way for the elevated CTA track structure. This option was added in 2012 in response to the Chicago Department of Transportation feasibility study looking at moving UPRR freight operations out of the existing UPRR corridor before the RLE project. The Right-of-Way Option would only be feasible if the separate project were implemented before implementation of the RLE project. Coordination between local agencies and the railroads indicted that relocation of UPRR freight operations from this corridor presents considerable challenges; therefore, this option is no longer feasible.
Q: For the Preferred Alignment near the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) tracks, has the CTA talked with Union Pacific Railroad representatives?
A: The CTA has had preliminary conversations with UPRR and will continue to coordinate with the railroad as the project moves forward. UPRR requires that CTA tracks be located at least 50 feet from the existing freight tracks because of safety considerations.
Q: What portion of the Red Line Extension would be elevated?
A: The RLE would operate on an elevated structure from approximately 95th Street to 118th Street, where it would transition to an at-grade profile and then continue at grade before terminating near 130th Street. The 103rd Street, 111th Street and Michigan Avenue stations would be elevated, and the 130th Street station would be at-grade. The RLE will be grade-separated, meaning that it will not intersect or conflict with existing roadways.
Q. Will all four of the new RLE stations be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
A: Yes, all four stations will be ADA accessible. The CTA is committed to ensuring that all riders can access and benefit from its public transit services. Improvements made under the guidance of the ADA will provide access to transit services for people who may have difficulty navigating stairs or require specific audio and/or visual cues.
The NEPA Process
Q: What is NEPA and why does NEPA need to be done for the project?
A: The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) is a federal law that mandates the consideration of environmental impacts that may have significant impacts on the environment before a project is approved to receive federal funding. The NEPA process provides a decision-making framework to consider the purpose and need for a proposed action, potential design solutions, project costs, and relative benefits of a proposed project. As part of FTA requirements, projects that receive New Starts funding must comply with NEPA and related environmental laws.
Q: What is a Draft Environmental Impact Statement, or Draft EIS?
A: Under NEPA, a Draft Environmental Impact Statement, or Draft EIS, must be prepared to summarize potential impacts to the natural environment and community. The Draft EIS describes the potential environmental benefits and impacts of a proposed project, and identifies measures to avoid, minimize, and mitigate adverse impacts. A copy of the Draft EIS is available here.
Q: What is a Supplemental Environmental Assessment, or Supplemental EA?
A: CTA is preparing a Supplemental Environmental Assessment (EA) to evaluate the potential impacts of proposed project changes that have occurred since publication of the Draft EIS. A Supplemental EA was determined to be required for the RLE Project as a result of the possible change in location of 130th Street station from the north side to the south side of 130th Street. It will also include an assessment of the Preferred Alignment and the Union Pacific Railroad crossing at approximately 108th Place, which was announced in 2018, as well as refinements to the alignment near the proposed 120th Street rail yard and rail repair shop facility.
Q: What is a Final Environmental Impact Statement, or Final EIS?
A: A Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) addresses substantive comments received on the Draft EIS, includes further analysis where needed, and describes proposed measures to mitigate any negative impacts. In the case of the RLE project, the Final EIS will also incorporate the findings of the Supplemental EA on project changes since publication of the Draft EIS. The Final EIS will be combined with the Record of Decision (ROD) which explains the Federal Transit Administration’s decision regarding the project, describes the alternatives considered, and summarizes the mitigation measures that will be incorporated into the project.
The Transit Supportive Development (TSD) Plan
Q: Why is a Transit-Supportive Development (TSD) plan being created for the RLE Project?
A: The TSD Plan will incorporate the community’s vision for future development on the RLE corridor. It will identify methods and resources to enable mixed-use development and enhance economic vitality, multimodal connectivity and the pedestrian environment. The TSD plan will utilize an equitable TOD (eTOD) planning approach. eTOD planning seeks to promote development without displacement and realize community-focused benefits such as affordable housing, local economic development, and environmental sustainability. It can be a driver for more vibrant, prosperous, and resilient neighborhoods that put people of color and lower- and moderate-income residents at the center. A vital part of this plan will be a community engagement and ownership process that incorporates and realizes the vision of residents and stakeholders from the surrounding neighborhoods throughout the development of the plan.
Information collected during the TSD plan will help the CTA secure funding for RLE through the federal New Starts program. More specifically, the plan will be used to provide information for the land use and economic development criteria of the program.
Q: How is Transit-Supportive Development (TSD) different than Transit-Oriented Development (TOD)?
A: Transit-Supportive Development (TSD) encompasses a broader and more comprehensive approach than Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) by developing a vision for the whole project area. RLE will have benefits that extend beyond the half-mile radius around stations that is typically used for TOD planning. TSD planning also integrates transit planning with local land use planning and describes the type of development that may be supported by transit and that, in turn, may support transit.
Q. Will the RLE Project include economic development near the stations?
A: The TSD plan will include an economic development component that will assess the potential for future transit-supportive development near stations. The plan will also develop strategies to help leverage the transit investment.
Q. How can the community contribute to the RLE TSD plan?
A: The TSD plan includes a substantial amount of public involvement throughout its development. Outreach activities are planned over the year-long timeframe of the project and will include several public meetings to provide opportunities for public input on the goals and objectives for each station area and to collect public feedback on conceptual plans.
Q. What is Equitable Transit Oriented Development (eTOD) planning?
A: The TSD plan will utilize an equitable TOD (eTOD) planning approach. eTOD planning seeks to promote development without displacement and realize community-focused benefits such as affordable housing, local economic development, and environmental sustainability.
Q: What are the next steps for the project?
A: With the Preferred Alignment identified, the CTA must now prepare a Supplemental EA and Final EIS and conduct Preliminary Engineering to analyze impacts of the proposed alignment and address public comments. The Supplemental EA will feed into the Final EIS, which along with Preliminary Engineering must be completed before the CTA can apply for federal New Starts funding. The CTA began preparation of the project’s Supplemental EA, Final EIS, and preliminary engineering documents in March 2020. Construction and operation of the RLE is dependent on funding availability and federal approvals.
Q: How will the Far South Side benefit from the project during planning and construction?
A: As a part of the RLE project, the CTA is seeking to address barriers to sustainable employment for residents within the project area and people from economically disadvantaged zip codes. The CTA is establishing partnerships with community organizations, educational institutions, and trade organizations to promote workforce opportunities on the project and in the broader construction industry.
Get involved and staying informed
You can request to be added to the RLE contact list by clicking here or sending an email to RedExtension@transitchicago.com. Those added to this contact list will receive upcoming meeting notices, as well as future updates about the RLE Project.
Updates on the RLE project will also be posted to the project Facebook page: Facebook.com/CTARedExt
If you have any questions related to the CTA’s proposed RLE project, please click here or contact us via email or US mail at:
Chicago Transit Authority
Strategic Planning & Policy, 10th Floor
Attn: Red Line Extension Project
567 W. Lake Street
Chicago, Illinois 60661-1465