Over the last two months, the CTA held a series of public meetings to
announce what’s called the “locally preferred alternatives” for
expansions of the Orange, Red and Yellow lines. These meetings were
another step in the federally mandated process to get federal dollars
for such expansion projects. Here are the recommended expansion alternatives.
Orange Line: The preferred route to expand service south from Midway to Ford City Mall is to use heavy rail technology along the Belt Railway in the Cicero Corridor. It would be a 2.2 mile extension with just one new station at the terminus in Ford City Mall.
With this expansion, the CTA hopes to:
- Relieve congestion at Midway.
- Accommodate growth in job opportunities.
- Reduce lengthy bus trips to access the Orange Line.
- Alleviate traffic congestion due to projected growth in the area.
Red Line: The preferred route for expansion to 130th Street is a rail extension via the Union Pacific Railroad. Four new stations would serve the extension south to130th near the I-94 interchange.
The CTA cites these reasons for the expansion:
- Significant bus and passenger congestion at the 95th Street stations.
- Lengthy bus trips to access the 95th Street station.
- Far South Side residents experience 20% longer commute times than the rest of the city.
- Traffic congestion is expected to grow, along with population and employment.
Yellow Line: The preferred route for expansion to Old Orchard Shopping Center is via heavy rail following the east option on the Union Pacific Railroad right of way, using elevated track.
The CTA hopes to serve these needs with the expansion:
- Enhance access to the concentration of institution, employment and retail activity in the Old Orchard area.
- Leverage existing transit infrastructure to provide locally orientedrapid transit service.
- Support local land use and development goals.
- Alleviate traffic congestion due to expected growth in Skokie population and employment.
Selecting the locally preferred alternative method for expansion is the second step in the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts Process. Next steps:
- Incorporate public comments.
- Review findings with FTA.
- Get CTA board approval of the preferred alternative.
- Then continue with the FTA process of preliminary engineering and environmental impact statement; final design; construction; completion/operation.
That all sounds so simple, eh? Don’t count on it. It’s a long road, but worth the effort if we can get these expansions done.