OP-Ed: The Need for the CTA Red Line Extension Project

The Chicago Transit Authority’s Red Line Extension project is a vital initiative for the Far South Side. Our residents’ livelihoods depend on increased economic opportunities throughout communities like Roseland, Pullman, and West Pullman, which are limited, in part, because, unlike the rest of the city, we have been unfairly cut off from CTA train service. Metra is not enough and will never adequately connect our seniors, families, and others to CTA’s rail system. I believe the CTA’s RLE project is a critical part of addressing equity in this area.

I am a strong supporter of RLE and believe CTA has created a vision, while working with the community, for just how transformative this investment could be. This project means a great deal to my community and me because it will provide access to new and greater opportunities, such as employment, education, and cultural institutions. It will provide transit parity, giving residents transit choice while shortening our current nearly 40 minute transit travel time from 130th Street to the 95th Street Red Line station.

The lack of CTA rail service to our communities cuts us off from quickly accessing new and proposed community investments, like the library being built here in Altgeld Gardens, potential green spaces for our children, walking and biking paths, and a new day-care center. There have also been recent investments by Method and Whole Foods, with other developments on the way, including a plan to revitalize our forest preserve, Beaubien Woods, with new boat slips, parking lots, and picnic area. The extension of the Red Line from 95th to 130th would support and complement current and future economic development and will help these investments to grow and build upon their successes.

However, the Far South Side is cut off from CTA rail service, and now is the time to right that wrong. One train ride from Altgeld could lead to boundless new opportunities. When my neighbors can efficiently and reliably travel outside their zip code, they can experience a portion of this city many on the Far South Side do not get to experience. They would have opportunities to build careers from many of the job opportunities that this RLE can connect them to, and this investment will help them sustain their households.

People for Community Recovery looks to the future; we know without hesitation that our plans for our community require a substantial investment, and it must have solid public transit behind it. RLE will be a critical component of the plans for my community’s future and for future generations to come. Just think, wouldn’t it be amazing for the kids of Altgeld Gardens to be able to take one train to several universities, summer jobs, and internships, thus creating a path to long-term stability? The Red Line Extension is an opportunity whose time has come to uplift residents’ lives to be able to travel throughout the city of Chicago beyond 95th Street. Next stop, 130th Street, Hazel Johnson EJ Way!

Cheryl Johnson, Executive Director-People for Community Recovery




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