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Project Profile: Chicago Transit Authority Blue Line Project

Chicago Transit Authority Blue Line Project

photo credit: Chicago Transit Authority


Chicago, Illinois

Project Borrower / Sponsor

Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)

Program Areas

Project FinanceValue CaptureTIFIA

Value Capture Techniques

Sales Tax Districts

Tax Increment Financing


Heavy Rail


The Chicago Transit Authority Blue Line Project (Your New Blue improvement program) is a series of modernization projects along Chicago Transit Authority's Blue Line O'Hare Branch running between the Grand station just outside the Loop and O'Hare station at O'Hare International Airport. This 19-mile stretch of the O'Hare Branch, portions of which date back to 1895, will benefit from various track, power, signals, and station improvements, including:

  • Extensive station renovations at the Grand, Chicago, Division, Damen, California, Logan Square and Jefferson Park stations.
  • Concrete platform repairs and installation of a new elevator at the Addison station to make it ADA accessible.
  • Repairs at the Irving Park, Montrose, Harlem, and Cumberland stations.
  • Track improvements to eliminate and prevent slow zones along the Milwaukee elevated track (Division to Logan Square) and along the stretch of track running from Rosemont to O'Hare.
  • Track signal improvements between Jefferson Park and O'Hare.
  • Traction power upgrades to improve service and reliability.
  • Installation of new water management systems and repairs to ensure dry and clean subway stations.

The improvements are necessary to keep pace with growing ridership, which on the O'Hare Branch has outpaced the rail system as a whole over the past 10 years. The line serves 80,000 customers each weekday and had more than 26 million station entries in 2014.


$408.7 million (Federal project)

Funding Sources

TIFIA loan - $120 million

City of Chicago Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district funds - $9 million

RTA bonds - $19.36 million

CTA bonds - $84.57 million

State funds - $159.8 million

TIGER - $16 million

Project Delivery / Contract Method Multiple contract delivery methods
Private Partner

Multiple design-builders

Project Advisors / Consultants

PFM - Financial Advisor to the Borrower

Charity & Associates - Counsel to the Borrower


  • TIFIA Financial Advisor - IMG Rebel
  • TIFIA Legal Advisor - Hawkins, Delafield & Wood

Bondholders, USDOT TIFIA

Duration / Status

The first phase of the project began with track and station work in 2014.

Expected completion of the full program is 2019.

TIFIA Credit Assistance

Direct Loan - $120 million

The TIFIA loan will be repaid through farebox revenues.

Financial Status

The TIFIA credit agreement was executed on February 3, 2015.

Financial close occurred on February 3, 2015.

  • The Blue Line improvements are part of more than $4 billion in planned transit improvements, including recently completed improvements to Red Line South and a new terminal at 95th Street Red Line that began construction in 2014.
Related Links / Articles

CTA Project Website


Tom McKone 
Vice President of Budget, Management, and Capital Finance 
Chicago Transit Authority 
Tel: (312) 681-3470

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