11/03/2011 06:00 pm ET | Updated Jan 03, 2012

Red Line Renovation: City, State Invests $1 Billion To Revamp CTA (VIDEO)

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A $646 million state capital investment grant announced Thursday will be combined with other state, local and federal funds to invest $1 billion in repairing and rebuilding the CTA's Red Line, which operates north and south of the city and circulates through the Loop.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Governor Pat Quinn announced Thursday that the project will create more than 2,700 jobs while overhauling the CTA line that accounts for nearly 40 percent of all ridership on the rail network, according to a release.

"Since I became Governor I have focused on creating jobs and improving transportation service for our citizens," Governor Quinn said in the release. "This major investment in the CTA’s Red Line does both. It will quickly put people to work now and improve the quality of life for Chicago residents for years to come by ensuring safe, reliable travel between their jobs, their homes and their families."

Planned improvements include replacing the tracks between 18th and 95th streets and upgrading stations between Cermak and 95th, where currently almost 35 percent of the Dan Ryan branch operates as "slow zones," the release said. In slow zones, trains are limited to operational speeds below 35 mph, and almost 20 percent of that stretch is further restricted, running at or below 15 mph.

The project will also include the installation of new power systems, and upgrades across the connecting Purple Line that extends the Red Line's reach northward. Construction starts in 2012 and will last three years, according to the governor's office. Without the improvements that will result from this investment, Quinn says more than 60 percent of the Dan Ryan Red Line branch would be operating as slow zones by 2012.

Reconstruction is planned at the Wilson and Clark/Division stations, and ties will be replaced on the Purple Line between the Belmont and Linden stations, which includes updates to the Purple Line Express' route. The city hopes the updates will expedite commuting for the 79 million riders that used CTA transit last year, according to the release.

"This investment brings the Red Line into the 21st Century and gives commuters another alternative to the automobile and high gas prices," Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider said in the release. "The project will improve the Red Line while also helping to make our area streets and highways less congested, improving travel times and air quality."

The operational improvements come on top of an internally-led effort to optimize CTA travel, led by CTA President Forrest Claypool, including the planned installation of 400 LED Bus Tracker displays, a 100-station renewal initiative, and the addition of 50 full-time police officers patrolling stations, according to the release.

"This is an unprecedented investment in upgrading our system. It adds new momentum to our efforts to reform and renew the CTA with better facilities and enhanced service," Claypool said in a statement.