(Chicago, IL) – November 3, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel are officially guy-pals.
After making-nice together at a press conference a couple weeks ago announcing McCormick Place labor reforms despite a simmering feud, the political odd-couple were together again today—smiles unsheathed–to announce a $646 million state capital investment grant to repair and rebuild the Chicago Transit Authority’s Red Line and improve the Purple Line.
“Since I became Governor I have focused on creating jobs and improving transportation service for our citizens,” Quinn said.
The state’s transit investment will be combined with other state, local and federal funds for an overall commitment of $1 billion, creating more than 2,700 construction-related jobs.
“Chicago is a city on the move, and we must be able to move our residents with the speed and comfort that mark modern transportation,” said Emanuel.
Quinn highlighted that the state Red and Purple Line investment totaled $702.4 million to date, pushing backing both on earlier Emanuel suggestions that Chicago infrastructure needs were going unmet and a key mayoral argument for a Chicago casino embedded in legislation that the governor opposes.
What’s a little public needling between guy-pals, right?
Combined with $255.5 million in federal money and $44.1 million from the city, the Red Line project will rebuild sections of deteriorated tracks to eliminate slow zones, replace or repair aging stations, install new power systems to improve performance and upgrade a significant portion of the Purple Line.
Construction starts in 2012 and will last three years.
Red Line improvements include track replacement between 18th and 95th streets and upgrades to stations between Cermak and 95th Streets. Currently, almost 35 percent of the Dan Ryan branch is limited to speeds of less than 35 mph, with almost 20 percent of the branch restricted to a top speed of 15 mph. Without the new investment, more than 60 percent of the Dan Ryan branch would operate under slow zones in 2012.
The Emanuel-Quinn announcement drew strong praise from State Rep. Robert Rita (D-Blue Island) who attended the announcement and whose district will benefit from Red Line repairs of its southern branch.
“The joint state-city investment in the Red Line upgrade will generate both short-term and long-term economic growth for neighborhoods,” said Rita, who is Chairman of the House Tollway Oversight Committee and a big proponent of transportation-driven economic development.
“Cooperation between Governor Quinn and Mayor Emanuel is vital to develop the region economically,” Rita added.
Further north, the Wilson and Clark/Division stations, along with the surrounding track, will be rebuilt. The ventilation system will be upgraded on the underground portion of the Red Line through downtown. And three electrical substations will be upgraded. Ties will be replaced on the Purple Line track between the Belmont and Linden stations.
“This investment brings the Red Line into the 21st Century and gives commuters another alternative to the automobile and high gas prices,” said Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider.
Future Quinn-Emanuel public outings likely hang on the outcome of intense efforts in Springfield to move a gaming expansion past Quinn’s opposition. If the governor manages to block the bill and the mayor’s wished for casino, the candy-grams between the two may end. Abruptly.