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Oct 18, 2022

Transit TIF Approved for Red Line Extension

Lukas Kugler, URBANIZE Chicago

The Community Development Commission has approved plans for a Transit TIF to support the funding of the Red Line Extension. Originally promised by then Mayor Richard J. Daley in 1969, the Red Line Extension will look to extend the CTA Red Line past 95th St all the way down to the city’s southern border near 130th St. 

With work underway on the design, the $3.6 billion project will add another 5.6 miles of heavy rail and connect the Far South Side communities with 4 new stations. The tracks will be elevated from the 95th St station down through 119th where it will transition to grade-level tracks running down to its new terminus at 130th St. With four new stations, the Red Line will begin stopping at 103rd and Eggleston, 111th and Eggleston, Michigan Ave near 116th, and 130th St near Altgeld Gardens.  

Transit stations will be connected to the surrounding communities with bus connections, bike and pedestrian linkages, and with Park and Ride facilities. The project also includes a train storage yard and maintenance shop facility, located along the new tracks near 120th St. 

With equity at its core, The Red Line Extension will help those in the Far South communities gain access to new resources both inside and outside of their neighborhoods. For those traveling to the Loop from the area around 130th St, taking the Red Line extension will cut off 30 minutes from their commute. While stimulating new economic development for these areas, the plan will also align with the city’s climate initiatives, creating a new option for residents that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and helps with the climate change mitigation effort.

The CTA has been working with DPD on an eTOD study to look into how economic development will be spurred in these areas with the new stations. An implementation roadmap is targeted for a presentation in front of the Chicago Plan Commission either late this year or early 2023.

With more progress made in the last few years than over the last decade, the project’s recent history began with a non-binding referendum back in 2004 which showed local support for the project. In 2006, the CTA analyzed alternative alignments and formally selected the Union Pacific route as the locally preferred alternative in 2009. The draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was published in 2016, with the preferred track alignment selected in 2018. Late 2020 saw the entering into the project development phase as part of the Federal New Starts funding program and the CTA is wrapping up that portion of the timeline. 

Now in 2022, the final Environmental Impact Statement was published, and the project team has reached 30% design completion. The CTA will launch an RFQ for major design-build contractors later this month and kick off a more than year-long engineering phase for the project. During this time, they will actively work on securing the final federal funding to achieve a full financing package. With this engineering and financing phase targeted to wrap up in mid-2024, the CTA will look to award construction contracts in late 2024 and begin construction in 2025. The new Red Line Extension is targeted for a 2029 completion. 

As part of the $3.6 billion price tag, the CTA needs to contribute a “local match” to secure the federal funding through the Federal New Starts funding program. The Red Line Extension’s Transit TIF will raise $950 million in increment to provide that necessary local funding.

Similar to a traditional TIF district, the Transit TIF allows for the increment raised to more directly benefit transit projects. With a boundary from Madison St to the north and 134th St to the south, the Transit Facility Improvement Area, or TFIA, includes all parcels within a half mile of the Red Line within the north/south extents just mentioned. Within that boundary, the Transit TIF will be a more specific area bound by Madison St to the north and Pershing Rd to the south. This district will make up the parcels whose tax increment will be earmarked for the Red Line Extension. Parcels already in TIF districts will be excluded from the Transit TIF.

This distribution means that parcels south of Pershing Rd that are within the TFIA will not be contributing their potential tax increment to funding the project. Representatives from the CTA explained that this decision was made because, while properties north of Pershing Road will generate $950 million over the lifetime of the TIF, properties south of Pershing Rd would only contribute $43 million. The decision was made to not include those areas so that their increment could be used for traditional TIF districts if so desired in the future. 

With the Community Development Commission’s approval of the Transit TIF, its next step will be to go before the Chicago Plan Commission this month for a land use review. The CTA plans to garner final approvals from the Finance Committee and full City Council in December 2022.

Read more on URBANIZE Chicago

 

                                                                                                                        

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