Chicago, Illinois/Douglas Branch Reconstruction
Douglas Branch Reconstruction
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is proposing a complete reconstruction of the approximately 6.6-mile length of the existing Douglas Branch of CTA’s heavy rail Blue Line. The line extends from a point just west of downtown Chicago to its terminus at Cermak Avenue. The Douglas Branch Line was originally built in the early 20th Century with several improvements and upgrades occurring through the mid-1980s. The line currently carries approximately 27,000 average weekday boardings utilizing 11 existing stations. Due to its age, the line has become seriously deteriorated which has resulted in high maintenance and operating costs and declining service. The Douglas Branch serves one of the most economically distressed areas in Chicago. Total capital costs for the proposed heavy rail reconstruction project are estimated at $482.6 million (escalated dollars). The project is expected to serve 6,000 daily new riders in the year 2020.
In December 1997, the Chicago Area Transportation Study (CATS) – local metropolitan planning organization - included the Douglas Branch Reconstruction Project in the region’s financially constrained long range transportation plan. CTA has completed an examination of the environmental impacts and benefits of the proposed project in an Environmental Assessment (EA). FTA issued a Finding of No Significant Impact on the EA in April 2000. FTA approved the project into final design in June 2000. FTA and CTA entered into a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) for the Douglas Branch Reconstruction project in January 2001. The FFGA commits $320.1 million in Section 5309 New Starts funds to the project. Per the FFGA, the project is scheduled for completion in January 2005.
Section 3030(a)(106) of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) authorizes the “Chicago – CTA Douglas Branch” for final design and construction. Through FY 2001, Congress has appropriated $19.77 million in Section 5309 New Starts funds for the project.