$44 million federal grant to speed up Blue Line

December 15, 2011 (CHICAGO)

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was in Chicago Thursday to make the announcement.

Slow trains and long wait times may soon be a thing of the past for riders on the CTA Blue Line.

"Any type of delay on CTA can be really frustrating when you're trying to get where you are going," said Blue Line rider Megan Wolters.

The more than $44 million in federal transpiration funds will be used for at least two projects in the Chicago area and in southern Illinois.

With Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and others present, LaHood made it official Thursday as he gave lawmakers on Capitol Hill a message.

"If you want to put friends and neighbors back to work, pass a transportation bill. That's what America really needs," said LaHood.

The appropriation is part of more than a half-billion dollars earmarked for 46 projects in some 33 states.

"And that's what we are celebrating today, investments in public works and transportation that put people to work," said Quinn.

The CTA will get $20 million to repair rail lines between downtown and O'Hare Airport, specifically to eliminate slow zones on the Blue Line between the Logan Square and California stops.

"If this work is not done the slow zones will get worse. You will have an 8 to 10 minute additional drag if we don't do the work. So this is a significant improvement," said CTA President Forrest Claypool.

The Illinois Department of Transportation will also share in the windfall, as will the Chicago bike share program, which will increase the number of bike stations from 300 to 400 in the next two years.

"It will put people to work and it will be a further investment in our economic competitiveness," said Emanuel.

Another $14 million will go to fund a transportation project downstate. It's all set to begin sometime in 2013.

Copyright © 2024 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.