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U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx yesterday announced the closing of a $120 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan to the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) for major improvements to the Blue Line, including upgrades to track and stations between the downtown Loop and Chicago O'Hare International Airport.In addition to the TIFIA loan administered by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the four-year, $408.7 million Blue Line renovation is being funded in part by a $16 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant awarded to CTA in 2012, and contributions from state, local and other sources. "By upgrading the Blue Line, this project will improve access to 21st century transportation for the entire region," Foxx said in a press release. "Going forward, we want to bring these opportunities to other parts of the country, working with Congress to develop a long-term funding solution for transit, roads, bridges and other crucial infrastructure."The project represents the largest upgrade of the Blue Line since it was extended to O'Hare in 1984.Meanwhile, the FTA announced this week that it will conduct a safety management inspection of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's (WMATA) rail and bus systems.The inspection will help WMATA assess its operational strengths and weaknesses and identify areas where the agency can further reduce risks and make other safety improvements, FTA officials said in a press release.The inspection is the second time the FTA has pursued a comprehensive evaluation of a transit agency's safety operations since the administration was granted safety regulatory authority under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act."Safety is a shared responsibility and our goal is to ensure that WMATA is living up to the expectation of the FTA and, perhaps most importantly, the expectations of the public," said Foxx. "We will be vigilant and thorough in our safety inspection of WMATA and instruct the agency on how to close any gaps that we find."
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