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The Atlantic: Why $1 Billion Doesn't Buy Much Transit Infrastructure Anymore

Author: David Lepeska
November 9, 2011

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David Lepeska explains the high costs associated with transportation infrastructure, particularly in New York, where construction expenses are much higher than those of other major cities in the world.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently announced a $1 billion plan to overhaul the city's L trains, which are run by the Chicago Transit Authority and began operations in 1892. "The public will get a new CTA," he said at a press conference.

That's a bit of an exaggeration. In reality, the money will be used to lay new rail tracks between 18th and 95th streets on the Red Line to eliminate "slow zones," replace ties on the Purple Line and improve underground ventilation and electrical substations. In addition, nine stations will receive modest technical upgrades and—finally, the most significant addition—two stations on the North Side will be rebuilt.

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