which was passed on a bipartisan Senate vote and now moves to President Obama's desk for his signature. Every member of Illinois' congressional delegation supported the bill.
The bill provides $120 million to the competitive grant fund Durbin created in 2012 as a member of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) Conference Committee. The goal was to level the playing field by allowing existing mass transit lines (or core capacity projects), like the CTA's Red and Purple Lines, to compete for FTA funding under the New Starts grant program. Previously, only extensions or new transit lines could compete for the funding, making the vast majority of CTA projects ineligible.
CTA became the first transit system accepted into the FTA's new Core Capacity Program in November 2013 and has begun moving forward on the environmental work necessary for design and construction of the planned rebuilding of the Red and Purple Lines.
"For decades, existing, aging transit systems like Chicago's have had the decks stacked against them in terms of federal funding available for updates and improvements," Durbin said. "I worked to establish the Core Capacity program in the 2012 transportation bill because that equation needed to change. Mayor Emanuel and CTA were quick to seize the opportunity. Now, as the only transit system currently accepted into the program, the CTA is poised to be the first to benefit from this funding once the president signs this bill into law. Chicago's future depends on our ability to improve our existing infrastructure to meet new demand. This job-creating project will do that by helping CTA double the capacity of its most used rail lines."
"The City of Chicago is focused on building a 21st Century public transportation infrastructure to match our rapidly growing economy," Emanuel said. "We are grateful for Sen. Durbin's leadership on this issue, since this investment by the federal government will help to continue to put more people to work, improve stations and rail lines and promote continued economic growth."