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Hundreds of parcels may be needed for Red Line extension: CTA

As many as 259 parcels of land — including 95 with residential buildings — could be seized as part of a Chicago Transit Authority plan to extend the Red Line to 130th Street, officials revealed Tuesday.

The $2.3 billion, 5.3-mile project would be the biggest CTA extension in 30-some years — since the Blue Line was extended to O’Hare, CTA officials said.

About 200 Chicagoans showed up Tuesday night at the Palmer Park Gym, 201 E. 111th St., to view and discuss about two dozen poster boards outlining the project.

“There was a high level of interest,’’ said CTA spokesman Steve Mayberry. “Folks wanted as much information as they could get.’’

One board in particular outlined what may be the most controversial numbers associated with the project — how many parcels would have to be seized to extend the Red Line to 130th Street from its current endpoint at 95th Street.

The CTA in 2009 selected a “preferred” route down the middle of I-57 to 98th St., and then alongside existing Union Pacific tracks to 130th.

Under that “preferred” route, if an elevated were built east of the UP tracks, a maximum of 259 parcels would need to be purchased, 95 of them residential, the poster board indicated.

If an elevated were built west of the UP tracks, up to 195 parcels would need to be purchased, 30 of them residential.

Another alternative, which would run the extension down the center of Halsted Street, would require seizing 110 parcels, including 17 residential ones.

A final option, involving a bus “rapid transit” system with dedicated bus lanes, would require seizing only 52 parcels, including one residential one.

No estimate of the maximum number of people displaced by each alternative was available.

In comparison, the CTA seized 40 parcels before a project to expand capacity on the Brown Line, completed in 2009.

And the CTA has said at least 30 parcelscould be targeted for purchase under a Red and Purple Line modernization plan that includes a new bypass at a major rail bottleneck.

CTA Red Line project manager Carole Morey said all alternatives are “on equal footing” and further engineering analysis could reduce some displacements. The community will be asked for input at public hearings after an environmental assessment of each option is completed in 2015, she said.

At that time, Morey said, some citizens may want to endorse alternatives that displace fewer people.

“I think it’s too early to reach any conclusions,’’ Morey said. “We really need to hear from the community and hear their concerns.’’

The extension would run through such impoverished neighborhoods as Roseland and Englewood, and, it is hoped, give businesses there a boost, Mayberry said. It also would trim 20 minutes from the commute of residents near 130th, who would need only to hop a Red line train to get downtown instead of riding a bus to 95th Street and boarding the Red Line there, Mayberry said.