June 23rd, 2020
ITEF Comment Vol. XIV Issue 8
$25 BILLION PORK FEST PLAN RUNNING IN EXPENSIVE CIRCLES
There has been a lot of talk in Springfield recently about passing a capital budget plan. The Governor called a special session next week to spend $25 billion. Of this $25 billion, $3.4 billion would go towards mass transit pork. One of the projects being proposed in Chicago is the “Circle Line” for the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) rail system.
A major problem with the Circle Line is the projected cost—over $1 billion for 6.6 miles of track. This comes to over $151 million per mile. Public projects almost never come in at cost, so taxpayers get stuck with paying an ever increasing bill.
The second major problem is that the line would be built with technology that is over 100 years old. It does not make sense to spend so much money on technology that is so outdated.
The real reason to build the Circle Line is to spend taxpayer’s dollars. There is no reason that this line should ever be built. The CTA is just trying to waste state taxes to collect federal tax dollars.
The proposed Circle Line would start at North/Clybourn and head west to North/Elston. From there it would start to head south along Ashland down to Ashland/Archer. It would run on the Orange Line track to downtown where it would divert to the Red Line tracks back up to North/Clybourn. It also would provide connections between CTA and Metra lines at North/Elston, Ashland/Lake, Ashland/18th and Ashland/Archer.
This plan also has some logistical flaws. The CTA claims that “a Naperville mother wanting to visit Water Tower could take Metra’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe Line to a new Metra station in Pilsen, rather than continue to Union Station and take a bus to her destination. She then could walk to the nearby, and perhaps attached, Circle Line station at 18th Street in Pilsen and swing around to the North Loop.” Contrary to what the CTA states, most people would rather transfer downtown in a setting they are more familiar with.
To go to O’Hare, people living along the lakefront on the north side can currently take a bus west to the Blue Line. It is pointless to have a connecting rail along North Avenue to connect the Red and Blue Lines.
The Circle Line has been floating around for a long time now. It is a bad idea and would take over 10 years to complete at a cost of over $1 billion using outdated technology. The CTA should instead work on cutting costs, improving efficiencies and work to achieve sustainability without relying on tax increases.