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CTA Blue Line Project

CTA Blue Line Project Schematic
Project Type: 
Public Transit
Sponsor / Borrower: 
Chicago Transit Authority
Credit Agreement Status: 
TIFIA Assistance: 
$120 million
Primary Revenue Pledge: 
Farebox Revenues
Project Cost Details: 

$408.7 million

Duration / Status: 

The first phase of the project began with track and station work in 2014. Expected completion of the full program is 2019.

Fiscal Year Closed: 
Project Description: 

Your New Blue improvement program is a series of modernization projects along the Chicago Transit Authority's (CTA) Blue Line O'Hare Branch running between Grand Station just outside the Loop and O'Hare Station at O'Hare International Airport. This 19-mile stretch of the O'Hare Branch, portions of which date back to 1895, will benefit from various track, power, signals, and station improvements, including:

  • Extensive renovations at the Grand, Chicago, Division, Damen, California, Logan Square, and Jefferson Park stations
  • Concrete platform repairs and installation of a new elevator at the Addison station for Americans with Disability Act (ADA) accessibility
  • Repairs at the Irving Park, Montrose, Harlem, and Cumberland stations
  • Track improvements to eliminate and prevent slow zones along the Milwaukee elevated track (Division to Logan Square) and along the stretch of track running from Rosemont to O'Hare
  • Track signal improvements between Jefferson Park and O'Hare
  • Traction power upgrades to improve service and reliability
  • Installation of new water management systems and repairs to ensure dry and clean subway stations

The improvements listed above are necessary for the O’Hare Branch to keep pace with growing ridership, which has outpaced the CTA rail system as a whole over the past 10 years. The line serves 80,000 customers each weekday and had more than 26 million station entries in 2014. According to CTA, track improvements, power substation upgrades, and an updated signal system will help CTA reduce the risk of safety incidents, result in more reliable train service, and eliminate current slow zones, resulting in an average travel time savings of five minutes per trip. Safety will also be improved with brighter lighting, cleaner and drier stations, improved entrances, and additional ADA access. The project is expected to generate 1,100 jobs and approximately $292 million in total economic impact. TIFIA financing allows the realization of the stated benefits at a present value debt savings of approximately $44 million.

Funding Sources: 
  • TIFIA Loan: $120M
  • City of Chicago Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District Funds: $9M
  • RTA Bonds: $19.36M
  • CTA Bonds: $84.57M
  • State Funds: $159.8M
  • TIGER: $16M
Project Delivery / Contract Method: 


Project Participants: 
Project Advisors / Consultants: 

PFM - Financial Advisor to Borrower

Charity & Associates - Counsel to the Borrower


  • TIFIA Financial Advisor - IMG Rebel
  • TIFIA Legal Advisor - Hawkins, Delafield & Wood
Project Lender(s): 
Bondholders, USDOT TIFIA
TIFIA Credit Assistance Detail: 

The TIFIA direct loan of $120 million will be repaid through farebox revenues.

Financial Status: 
The TIFIA credit agreement was executed in February 2015. Interest payments are set to start in 2021, and principal payments are expected to start in 2024. Final loan maturity is expected occur in 2041.

The Blue Line improvements are part of more than $4 billion in planned transit improvements, including recently completed improvments to Red Line South and a new terminal at 95th Street Red Line that began construction in 2014.

Project Contacts: 

Tom McKone 
Budget, Management, and Capital Finance 
Chicago Transit Authority 
567 West Lake Street 
Chicago, IL 60680 

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