The CTA Red Line has been the backbone of north side neighborhoods for a century. Now it's time to rebuild it for the next 100 years.
A Transit Facility Improvement Area could provide the boost the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) needs to fund its Red and Purple Modernization project. Recently approved legislation allows Chicago to create a value capture district along the transit line, which would provide the local funding needed to unlock $1.1 billion in federal matching grants.
The Red and Purple Modernization project will completely rebuild the century-old transit line—the city's busiest—from Belmont to Howard. Modernizing the line will allow the CTA to run more trains to ease overcrowding today and accommodate growing ridership into the future.
When a neighborhood asset (like a transit line) is improved, nearby property values increase. The improvement area dedicates a portion of any resulting increase in tax revenues to paying for the transit improvement. This "capture" of the increased value can last for up to 35 years, and is only based on growth in assessed property value. It does not affect or raise tax rates.
The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) believes that investing in infrastructure, especially maintaining and updating what we already have, is one of the most effective ways to strengthen our communities and grow our region's economy. We need to invest more—$43 billion more—in our roads, rails and bridges throughout our state, and using a Transit Facility Improvement Area for Red and Purple Modernization is a good way to start.
The proposal to fund the Red Purple Modernization will go before the City Council Finance Committee at two upcoming meetings, on Tuesday, Nov. 22 and Monday, Nov. 28. Mayor Emanuel has asked the full City Council to meet in a special session on Nov. 30 to authorize the district. With any luck, the project will be fully funded and work can get started in 2017 on modernizing one of the most heavily used parts of Chicago's transit system!