In 2018, based on public and agency feedback received on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as well as subsequent project planning and engineering work, the CTA selected the Preferred Alignment for the RLE project. The Preferred Alignment is a combination of the previously presented Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) East and West Options and would run along the west side of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks (from I-57 south to approximately 108th Place, later refined to 107th Place), cross over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and run along the east side of the tracks until crossing the Metra Electric District tracks (near 119th Street) and continue south to 130th Street. (See the preferred alignment map.)
The Preferred Alignment captures the benefits and minimizes the impacts of either option. The Preferred Alignment would affect fewer residences than the East Option and fewer businesses and jobs than the West Option. Noise and vibration impacts as a result of the Preferred Alignment would not be greater than those anticipated under either the East or West options.
The RLE project includes the following:
- 5.6 mile heavy-rail transit line extension from 95th Street terminal to 130th Street
- Four new stations at 103rd Street, 111th Street, Michigan Avenue, and 130th Street
- Multimodal connections at each station would include bus, bike, pedestrian, and Park & Ride facilities
- New rail yard and rail maintenance shop
The following images are conceptual artistic renderings of the proposed project:
Public open house for the RLE Preferred Alignment
The CTA hosted a public open house on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy to provide information on the Preferred Alignment for the RLE project.
This meeting was conducted in an open house format. The CTA welcomed comments and feedback about the Preferred Alignment and the potential impacts.
View the exhibit boards (2/13/2018)
Alternatives development history
The CTA undertook an extensive Alternatives Analysis process from 2006–2009 that considered multiple modes and corridor options for the RLE project.
Starting with multiple modes and corridor options, the CTA developed and screened alternatives through a combination of conceptual engineering, public input (open houses and stakeholder meetings), and preliminary analysis of potential impacts and costs.
The Chicago Transit Board designated the UPRR Alternative as the Locally Preferred Alternative on August 12, 2009.
In preparation for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and based on the outcomes of the Alternatives Analysis, the CTA evaluated the following alternatives and options from 2012–2014:
- No Build Alternative
- Bus Rapid Transit Alternative
- Union Pacific Railroad Rail (UPRR) Rail Alternative
- Right-of-Way Option
- East Option
- West Option
- Halsted Rail Alternative
In August 2014, based on the technical analysis and public input until then, the CTA announced the NEPA Preferred Alternative—the UPRR Alternative. Because the Right-of-Way Option is not feasible, the Draft EIS evaluated only the East and West Options for the UPRR Alternative. The Draft EIS summarizes the environmental benefits and impacts of the No Build Alternative and the two UPRR Alternative options.
Based on public feedback, technical analysis, and agency coordination, the CTA selected a Preferred Alignment in January 2018. The Preferred Alignment is a combination of the previously presented Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) East and West Options, which captures the benefits, minimizes the impacts of either option and incorporates the feedback received on the Draft EIS.