CTA gets federal grant to fix slow zones on Blue Line

The final stretch of slow zones on the Blue Line between the Loop and O'Hare Airport will be eliminated under a $20 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant.

The money will be used to repair slow zones on 3.6 miles of Blue Line track between Damen and Belmont, the Tribune reports.


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  • I know more Chicagoans ride the Red Line than any other line, but the Blue line is the first impression tourists get of the city if they ride it in from O'Hare. It should really be state of the art.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Well, for that money, they should rip out the 110 year old section of the L between Damen and Logan Square and put in something like the Paulina Connector replacement on the Pink Line. But we know that they won't, and that the complete rebuild on the Pink Line Cermak section didn't last.

    State of the art would be putting in your fave former Mare Mumbles's Chinese Maglev.

    And, of course, the reason for the now comatose Block 37 station was that tourists weren't impressed coming up the stairs of the hole under Dearborn Street.

    On a policy level, Chicago seems enamored with Durbin announcing another discretionary grant, none of which, including one for 13 articulated buses about 4 years ago, has come to fruition. Durbin gets some publicity for something he probably didn't have anything to do with, while Congress can't pass a Transportation Equity Bill.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    So you prefer circuses instead of bread?
    I don't give a shit what tourists think of Chicago, I care that I & much of Chicago can't get to work, school, shopping in reasonable time & with an expectation that there won't be any bizarre delays in doing so.

  • I guess I'm the only one who sees something wrong with this picture. The federal government collects money then redistributes it around the nation. This is messed up. Why should someone in Montana pay for public transportation in Chicago? This is why we have a federal deficit.

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    In reply to Gary Lucido:

    For much the same reason as we in Chicago wind up paying for Montana's airports and interstate highways. I would venture that as Illinois has twice the federal tax revenue per capita of Montana (to use your example), and a much higher population, that Montana is getting the better break in the situation than if all of the money used for federal transportation infrastructure funding were collected by the states for the same purpose instead. I think we could still afford to fix the Blue Line, which carries nearly the whole population of Montana in an average week, but I can't speak to whether the City of Billings or the State of Montana could have afforded the ARRA funds that recently paid for some work at Billings Logan Airport.

    I, for one, welcome the money however we can get it. The Blue Line isn't as busy as the Red, but it's still a critical corridor for a large number of people.

  • In reply to Gary Lucido:

    Hey Gary, how about the Federal Government supporting the housing market? Where would you be if didn't take over Freddie? Not writing that mortgages are available. And that certainly added to the Federal deficit.

    And, as Jeff points out, there is no reason why my gas tax money should go to Montana. At least if spent in Chicago, it may alleviate some congestion. I have nothing against that--my complaints are that the feds don't have a policy, and the CTA wastes it. Those two complaints can be addressed if there were any will to do so.

  • In reply to jack:

    I think you're missing my point. I don't think Chicago should be paying for airports in Montana either. This notion that the federal government should collect money and then redistribute it around the nation is bizarre and leads to all sorts of additional politicking that we don't need.

    As for the federal government subsidizing the housing market...I am on record on numerous occasions as opposed to any support of the housing market by the federal government. I don't even believe in the mortgage interest deduction. In fact, I am in the process of preparing a blog post on how they should raise the Fannie/Freddie fees to cover the losses of those damn institutions.

  • In reply to Gary Lucido:

    Well, unless you are advocating abolishing all federal expenditures except for national defense, immigration control, and the like, I'd like to see you demonstrate how the economy would be without federal assistance., Not just that Fannie/Freddie fees should be raised, but that those two bankrupt agencies, now owned by the government, be abolished.

  • In reply to jack:

    I'm actually in favor of abolishing Fannie and Freddie. Of all the government bailouts those are the only two that won't recover the bailout money.

    And government redistribution of funds is hardly what I would call "assistance". It's nothing more than a shell game whereby they collect money from everyone and then pass it around based upon politics. In the process there is a lot of friction and consequently money lost.

  • In reply to Gary Lucido:

    OK, but don't masquerade behind programs that benefit your business. Let us know where your clients are going to get mortgage financing, since the banks are no longer keeping the paper they generate.

  • In reply to jack:

    How am I masquerading behind these programs? I think they are a disaster. I have no doubt that the private sector can handle it - but it will be at higher interest rates as it should be.

  • In reply to Gary Lucido:

    Maybe you answered the question I raised in my last sentence in your last sentence, but given such things as Hochberg advertising that he can solve mortgage problems the banks won't, but answering letters on TV that most of the writers have to wait 3 years to become eligible for FHA, I don't think so.

    In any event, you should be willing to cut your own business's lifeline before making general statements about federal spending. I'd say the same to any doctor, too.

  • In reply to Gary Lucido:

    It's the other way around. A disproportionately large amount of revenue comes from the big cities (Chicago, LA, New York) and gets redistributed to the less populous areas.

  • Jack,

    Looks like I can't directly reply to your last comment so I have to post a new one. Like I said, I am a big fan of blowing up Fannie and Freddie. I have no concerns about "cutting my lifeline". Believe me there will be plenty of lenders out there willing to make money but mortgages will be priced as they should be instead of being subsidized by the government. I actually am planning a blog post on this topic.

  • Here we go again! Something isn't adding up. They are claiming there are 3.6 miles of slow zones between Damen and Belmont, however, according to the CTA slow zone map released on December 7, there is only 1,580 FEET of slow zone in this section of the line. A far cry from 3.6 miles. Meanwhile, the Brown Line, Purple Express and Dan Ryan are all around 25% slow zoned or higher. It appears the slow zone epidemic has hit the Brown line particularly hard between Armitage and the Loop since early Summer. The Congress branch of the Blue Line also looks like its getting slow too now. The CTA is never going to win the battle of the slow zone epidemic in our lifetimes at this rate. Even completely rebuilt lines such as the Pink Line aren't immune to it. Its criminal when infrastructure that cost hundreds of millions in public dollars starts to fall apart in less than a decade when it should last at least several decades before needing major repairs.

  • In reply to Matt:

    As far as the 3.5 mile "slow zone," people debated that on chicagobus.org and came to the conclusion that the 3.5 miles was bogus, and someone said that the stretch at California was not as bad as it once was.

    As far the the perpetually slow zoned track after being fixed, I've mentioned that before.The money for the Dan Ryan is apparently state money per formula that (if you drink enough booze) they will get one way or the other, but with $8 billion of unmet capital needs (that never shrinks),they could have used it on something else.

    For that matter, I noted in yesterday's agenda, that they are still processing change orders for the Brown Line project, which was supposed to be finished two years ago.

    Finally, there is a pattern of CTA "shoehorning" into grant categories, and Durbin taking false credit, which is nothing new.

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