ITEF Comment Vol. XIV Issue 9

CTA’S BIG DIG KEEPS SUCKING IN TAXPAYER DOLLARS

CHICAGO-The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has halted construction on its “super station” in downtown Chicago that would have been the hub for express trains running between Midway Airport, downtown Chicago, and O’Hare Airport. In typical government fashion the project was under-budgeted and there were cost overruns. Springfield politicians have been discussing a “capital budget plan” to spend $25 billion taxpayer dollars. Of this $25 billion, $3.4 billion would go towards mass transit pork. One of the projects proposed in Chicago is the $2 billion “Airport Express” for the CTA’s rail system.

The CTA has gone more than $100 million over budget and all they have to show for it is a hole in the ground. And you wonder why the CTA keeps crying Doomsday and begging for more money.

The original concept was to create a super station downtown that would run express trains to the two airports. The goal was to relieve congestion on the expressways and on the two rail lines that already service the airports. Of course, cost recovery and sustainability are never an issue, as politicians see taxpayer dollars as an endless supply.

The original budget called for $213 million to be spent by the CTA and the city. That number now is about $320 million. This is just to create a new station and half mile of tracks. It would take another $1.5 billion to create a duplicated route to save 10-15 minutes on a trip. They could probably save the same amount of time if they just fixed the relatively new rail ties that have to be replaced due to shoddy work by contractors with mob ties. In September 2006 the CTA allocated $93 million for the Block 37 subway station. In 2007 it had to borrow $91 million to fix rail ties on the O’Hare Line constructed by these mob-affiliated companies. The CTA needs to quit wasting taxpayer’s money.

This project is a logistical nightmare and would require trains to run on time so they don’t get bunched up, using the same old, outdated 19th century technology. Construction has created major inconveniences for downtown pedestrians and CTA riders.

Mayor Daley’s pet project has been put on hold but the CTA wants of piece of the $25 billion capital budget plan to complete this billion dollar boondoggle. The CTA doesn’t deserve a single dollar more of taxpayer’s money.

The real reason to build this project is to spend taxpayer’s money. There is no reason why this boondoggle should ever be built.  The CTA is just trying to waste state taxes to collect federal tax dollars.

The airport express was a bad idea to begin with and the implementation is no better. These events should undermine any remaining confidence in the CTA bureaucracy to invest wisely.

Click here for the ITEF Comment.

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