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These Big CTA Projects Will Transform Chicago's Public Transit

By Kate Shepherd in News on Oct 26, 2015 3:52PM

The first train at the newly rehabbed Jarvis Red Line station, December 2012. (Photo credit: Brad Perkins)

Rebuilding the CTA will take years. But the transit agency says it is prepared, with billions of dollars of upcoming projects in the works.

The CTA, Metra and Pace need more than $36 billion over the next 10 years to tackle a backlog of maintenance and replacement, according to the Tribune. The CTA's share over the work is $22.4 billion, mostly for the rail system. They've budgeted $2.3 billion for capital improvements in fiscal years 2016 to 2020.

Here are a look at some of the biggest current and upcoming CTA projects, compiled by the Tribune Monday:

Red Line South Extension: The project would add stations at 103rd Street, 111th Street, Michigan Avenue and 130th Street. There's no timeline set in stone, and the estimated cost is $2.3 billion.

The New 7000 Series rail cars: The contract will be awarded early next year with prototypes ready for delivery in 2019. The estimated cost is $2 billion.

Modernizing the Red and Purple Lines: The plan is to rebuild sections of Red and Purple Lines, starting from just south of the Belmont station and extending north through Evanston and Wilmette. It's expected to increase capacity for the next 60 to 80 years, there's no timeline yet and will cost up to $4.7 billion total.

Blue Line O'Hare branch renovation: The CTA wants to upgrade tracks, stations, signals and traction power by the end of 2018. It should cut 10 minutes off of travel time from O'Hare to downtown and will cost $492 million.

95th Street Red Line terminal revamp: The aim is to expand and improve riders' access to the terminal and bus staging area. It should be done by the end of 2018 with a cost of $240 million.

Modernizing bus and rail maintenance and repair facilities: Upgrading these facilities should cost $205 million and would be completed in 2017.

Rebuilding the Wilson Red Line Station: Reconstructing the 92-year-old Uptown station is necessary to make it accessible to people with disabilities. The CTA also wants to make it a transfer point between the Red Line and the Purple Line express. It should cost $203 million and be finished by the end of 2017.

Ashland Avenue bus rapid transit: The project's goal is decrease travel times by up to 80 percent on Ashland Avenue between Irving Park Road and 95th Street. The estimated cost is $160 million and there's no timeframe yet.

The Ravenswood Connector: The goal is to replace the Brown and Purple Line Express signal system between Armitage and Merchandise Mart stations. It will cost around $50 million and should be completed by the end of 2017.

The new Washington/Wabash "superstation": The CTA is building a new mega-station to replace the current stops at Madison/Wabash and Randolph/Wabash. The estimated cost is $75 million and it should be ready by the end of 2016.

The Union Station Transit Center: The CTA wants to build off-street bus staging bays near the station, south of Jackson Boulevard between Canal and Clinton streets. The transit center would have an elevator to Amtrak's underground pedestrian tunnel, allowing commuters to walk between the station and the bus staging area. The estimated cost is $41.5 million and it should be completed in 2016.

The Loop Link bus rapid transit: The CTA is building bus-only lanes and rapid transit-style boarding stations in a 2-mile area on Washington, Madison, Clinton and Canal streets. The cost is $31.8 million and it should be ready by the end of this year or early next year.

Purple Express track renewal: A single-track upgrade will eliminate slow zones between the Lawrence and Jarvis stations. The cost is $30 million and it should be ready by the end of 2015.

New bus purchases: Buying 425 buses to add to the CTA fleet. The cost is $216.5 million.

Improving the Illinois Medical District Station: The plan for improving this Blue Line station for use by people with disabilities is projected to cost $23 million and be ready by mid-2017.

Improving the Quincy Station accessibility: Construction to repair the 118-year-old station make it accessible to riders with disabilities. It should cost $16 million and be ready by early 2017.

New express bus service: They're adding a new rush hour express bus service on Ashland and Western avenues to reduce travel times by the end of the year. It should cost $4 million.

A Ventra mobile app: This delayed-app will allow smartphone ticketing and fare-payment for CTA, Metra and Pace customers. It could be ready this fall and cost $2.5 million.