CTA Puts Yellow, Orange Line Extensions On Hold

CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Transit Authority is putting two proposed rapid transit extensions on hold as it tries to cope with its latest financial crisis.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports, Red Line reconstruction and extension is a priority. But CTA President Forrest Claypool told Newsradio 780 that proposed Orange and Yellow Line extensions won’t get past the planning phase without a turnaround in the agency’s finances.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports

He said the agency has too many other needs that are far too urgent.

“What we need now is a state of good repair,” he said. “We have slow zones now on the Red Line, south side, that are 15 miles an hour. The slow zones north? You get cattle cars because of that.

CTA officials have said that they have unmet capital repair and reconstruction needs that approach $10 billion.

He said the Orange Line and Skokie Swift extensions are not dead. Rather, he said, planning will continue so they can “be taken off the shelf” if finances improve.

The Orange Line extension would take the line from Midway Airport to the Ford City shopping mall. The CTA had the land for the extension before it built the original line in the early 1990s, but even then lacked the money to complete it.

Likewise, the Skokie Swift would be re-extended to Old Orchard Center, which is also a short distance from Niles North High School and the Cook County Circuit Court’s Skokie courthouse.

The Yellow Line extension is particularly controversial because CTA identified a plan to build a single-track, elevated extension to the line between Dempster Street and the Old Orchard terminal. The proposal generated intense opposition from neighborhood residents and the District 219 Board of Education, because it would cut through the Niles North property and usurp its parking lot.

CTA union contracts are also up for renegotiation this fall, and Claypool said he has already warned union leaders over lunch that this “is not a normal year” and that he will seek a series of work rule changes, not unlike the changes sought by Mayor Rahm Emanuel from city unions.

The last time the unions were asked to make concessions, they chose layoffs and service cuts instead.

  • chris mcbee

    claypool is so wrong this is the best time to do it,invest in your riiders

  • Realist

    Too much common sense. You can’t have that in government.

  • JeBuS

    Short-sighted. Extensions might actually save money, or increase ridership (which would increase income).

  • Timothy Brian Padden

    They should focus on the Red Line extension first as this is the line with the most riders.

  • apktraffic

    I would agree with all of the previous posters, except for that fact that the CTA appears to be woefully short of funding for any kind of expansion.

  • Basher 5-2

    “What we need now is a state of good repair,” he said. Hooo-raah for Claypool, FINALLY somebody a county agency / government gets it. While the socialists are fond of embracing “investment in the future, job creation now” in reality THERE IS NO CASH and loopy “tax the rich” schemes will not work. Quinn style borrowing and debt is even more toxic. Prioritize, do the Ryan line extension while fixing the slow zones and maintaining the rest of the system. This is similar to the “high speed rail” mania in vogue with the current administration. Big drive to build long distance rail lines that few will use while commuter rail, where the real traffic is, rolls over 100 year old bridges, uses antique signal gear and runs with stinky ancient diesels. Good luck Mr. Claypool, you are going to need it.

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