The study would launch a long-range planning strategy for serving customers with a modernized rail line and could stimulate new economic development for the West Side along the Eisenhower Expressway.
The study will be paid for by a combination of local and federal funds. The analysis is being performed in coordination with the Village of Oak Park, which has contributed local funding to analyze livability issues near Blue Line stations in Oak Park and in Chicago, as well as the Illinois Department of Transportation studies in the corridor.
"The Blue Line is a critical piece of Chicago's transit infrastructure, helping tens of thousands of Chicagoans get to work and school on a daily basis," said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "The Blue Line will play a large role in the future development of the West Side of Chicago and I am pleased that we continue to look for efficiencies and new opportunities to improve service."
The Blue Line runs through the Eisenhower Corridor "Neighborhoods Now" planning area, in which $186 million in public-private investments are being implemented through a coordinated community improvement plan. Approximately 2,000 new jobs are projected to be created through the initiative, which aims to leverage local transportation assets in support of entertainment and educational opportunities on the Near West Side, among other priorities.
The Blue Line Feasibility analysis will be done in coordination with the IDOT's current planning for the Circle Interchange and Reconstruction of the I-290 Eisenhower Expressway. The Forest Park Branch shares the right-of-way with the I-290, operating within the median of expressway.
"The Blue Line Forest Park study is a key step in investing in transit on the West Side," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Terry Peterson. "We look forward to partnering with IDOT to develop a long-term multi-modal plan that will meet transportation needs along the I-290 Eisenhower Expressway corridor and, ultimately, generate new economic development for the West Side."
The Blue Line Forest Park Branch was built in 1958 and has a growing list of "state of good repair" needs. The CTA study will evaluate the entire branch to determine how best to address modernization needs of its 55-year-old infrastructure, station/terminal needs, customer access points and Park and Ride access along the expressway.
This summer, CTA will share a variety of potential options or alternatives as part of its Blue Line study. During that time, CTA will obtain feedback from the community and key stakeholders and return with final concepts in the fall, which will be coordinated with the I-290 EIS meetings.