U.S. Department of Transportation Announces $120 Million Loan for Improvements to Chicago Blue Line
WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced the closing of a $120 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan to the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) for major improvements to the Blue Line of CTA’s “L” rail service, which will upgrade tracks and stations between the downtown Loop and Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Secretary Foxx participated in a ceremony in Chicago with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“Every Chicagoan knows how important it is to be able to take a convenient, reliable trip on the L to and from O’Hare,” said Secretary Foxx. “By upgrading the Blue Line, this project will improve access to 21st century transportation for the entire region. Going forward, we want to bring these opportunities to other parts of the country, working with Congress to develop a long-term funding solution for transit, roads, bridges and other crucial infrastructure.”
Significant upgrades to the track, power supply, and signal system along the 19-mile stretch of the Blue Line between the Loop and O’Hare Airport stations will reduce and eliminate “slow zones,” resulting in faster, more reliable service. The over 80,000 riders who use the Grand-O’Hare branch daily will also see improvements to stations along the line to enhance accessibility and comfort, from brighter lights and cleaner tunnels to new elevators and artwork.
“The Blue Line is critical to the city of Chicago and the TIFIA loan reduces financing costs to ensure the CTA can complete this project and have a more robust capital plan going forward,” said Sylvia Garcia, DOT Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs.
In addition to the $120 million TIFIA loan, the four-year, $408.7 million Blue Line renovation (known as “Your New Blue”) will be supported by $16 million in DOT’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) funds awarded to CTA in 2012, with the remainder coming from state, local, and other sources. The project represents the largest upgrade of the Blue Line since it was extended to O’Hare in 1984.
“For residents and visitors alike, the L is a lifeline to jobs, attractions, events, and all that Chicago has to offer,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “With this project, CTA, the City of Chicago, and the State of Illinois continue to make the critical investments in modern infrastructure that riders expect and deserve.”
The TIFIA credit program is designed to fill market gaps and leverage substantial non-federal investments. Each dollar of federal funding can provide up to $10 in TIFIA credit assistance and support up to $30 in transportation infrastructure investment. Since its launch, the TIFIA program has helped 49 projects turn more than $21 billion in U.S. Department of Transportation assistance into more than $76 billion in infrastructure investment across America.
As part of the President’s Build America program, the Department has revamped the TIFIA website with a cleaner design, helpful tools, and interactive map that make it easier than ever to learn about how TIFIA helps projects get built using innovative financing. The new site is located at www.dot.gov/tifia.
The Obama Administration has proposed the GROW AMERICA Act to expand financing options under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA), which leverages Federal dollars by facilitating private participation in transportation projects and encouraging innovative financing mechanisms that help advance projects more quickly. The Act will provide $6 billion over 6 years, which will result in $60 billion of direct loans. In addition, the Act increases the accessibility of the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program by reducing the cost of obtaining a loan for short line railroads and increases the availability of Private Activity Bonds by raising the existing $15 billion cap to $19 billion.