Daley likes L proposal, would help find funds


By Robert C. Herguth and Fran Spielman

Date of Publication: March 12, 2002
Source: Chicago Sun-Times


Mayor Daley was vague on how a new circular rail line proposed by the CTA would be financed but said Monday he's willing to put his lobbying muscle behind the search for funds.

"Oh, definitely," he said. "That's the only way. It's better for the taxpayer, it's better for the commuter."

Local transit, planning and government officials said they were intrigued by the idea of a new L line but expressed concern about, among other things, where the money would come from.

"Over a billion dollars is a lot of money and certainly would be hard to solicit federal dollars for," said the Regional Transportation Authority's Dave Loveday.

Before pursuing federal money--as CTA President Frank Kruesi indicated might happen next year--the RTA would want all local transit agencies to sign off on the project, he said.

Such "regional consensus" was critical to the CTA and Metra securing funding commitments for five major rail projects, said MarySue Barrett, president of the Metropolitan Planning Council.

Metra leaders said it's too early to evaluate the plan; they haven't been briefed yet by the CTA.

The new route, called the Circle Line, would run 13 miles, through downtown to as far south as Bridgeport, as far west as the United Center and as far north as Old Town. The project would link with most L and Metra lines.

Pat Souders, an aide to U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), said: "We've been briefed on it, but the priority has been Douglas-Blue and Ravenswood-Brown." However, "we've been talking to the CTA and we're certainly interested in trying to be helpful to that system as well as to Metra and others in the area."

One congressional official said some in Washington will draw comparisons to the Circulator, a light-rail system once pushed by Daley but killed by Congress in 1995 amid a bitter feud. His advice to the CTA: "Tread lightly."

John McCarron, an urban affairs specialist at Roosevelt University, said a cheaper and better plan seems to be a busway "circulating" through downtown, linking Metra's Ogilvie and Union stations.