CTA receives $111 million grant to replace some Blue Line tracks, improve accessibility

Blue Line riders can look forward to a smoother, quicker commute in a few years.

The Chicago Transit Authority said Thursday it has received a $111 million federal grant to replace more than 10,000 feet of Blue Line tracks between Kedzie Avenue and Pulaski Road.

With construction expected to begin summer 2027, officials hope the project will improve conditions for the historically underserved area.

"This funding is a critically needed investment in the Forest Park Branch and allows us to continue to move forward on our promise to improve rail service on the West Side," CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. said in a statement.

The money comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Reconnecting Communities Grant Program. The program prioritizes projects in disadvantaged communities to improve transit access to jobs, schools, health care, food and nature.

This grant is the latest development in the CTA’s Forest Park Branch Rebuild, which aims to reconstruct the Blue Line’s entire Forest Park Branch and make it 100% accessible for riders using mobility devices. Much of the branch was built in 1958 and regular repairs can no longer make up for the out-of-date infrastructure, the CTA said.

CTA spokesperson Maddie Kilgannon said 72% of the Forest Park branch is designated as a "slow zone," where track conditions require slower-than-normal train speeds. By replacing tracks, the CTA hopes to decrease travel time and improve safety, she said.

"Those slow zones add length to that trip time, and it means that operators actually do fewer trips over the course of their shift," Kilgannon said. "By making those improvements, it really really helps service not just that branch of the Blue Line, but the entire Blue Line."

The Forest Park Branch Rebuild broke ground last summer and focused on eliminating service delays and improving accessibility on almost three miles of tracks between the LaSalle Street and Illinois Medical District stations.

With the new grant, the CTA can now move forward with designs and establishing a clearer timeline, Kilgannon said.

"Transit is a connector of communities and we take that role really seriously," she said. "We think strategically about these investments in our system."