CHICAGO - A years-long project to upgrade two of the CTA's busiest lines is about to get a big infusion of cash from the federal government.
It is a $1.1 billion to fund what officials call the RPM, the Red and Purple Line Modernization project and is one of the largest capital projects in CTA history.
"There are so many people that use it it's like for work, for play, there are thousands of thousands of reasons to take the Red Line. It's so convenient. I love just hopping on the Red Line and going everywhere in the city," said commuter William Rives.
Now with the federal grant, city and state officials said this will become an infrastructure made for modern day transportation needs, a project Mayor Rahm Emanuel says has been years in the making.
"This will, over the next four years, create, 6,000 jobs in the city of Chicago, and when you think about it on a scale, it's equivalent to an aviation investment at either O'Hare or Midway. It's the largest investment we are gonna have in the public transportation system," Emanuel said.
For Red Line rider Melvin Jackson, the improvements are much needed.
"They don't even have access to uh, elevators for handicap people, so they really need that real bad," Jackson said.
The $2.1 billion project will rebuild the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr stations and a mile of tracks and structures. The Purple Line stops will be improved, too.
"Modern, accessible stations, more train service, and will reduce overcrowding and delays, this project is about the future of one of the countries busiest transit corridors. The Red Line has been there for 100 years and with this project we will ensure it will be here for 100 years to come," said CTA President Dorval Carter.
The work will be completed in phases. The billion dollar funding agreement will tackle the first phase, that in addition to the $622 million in TIF money approved by the City Council in November. The first phase will work on the Red-Purple Bypass and the Lawrence to Bryn Mawr section, making trains available on a smoother system.
The project is expected to take four to five years to complete.