Chicago Transit Authority

Chicago, IL
Project Facts
Capital improvement program including the largest single modernization project in the CTA’s history

Transit Capital Partners, a joint venture partner of Ascent, Patrick Engineering and Gannett Fleming

Full Case Study:

The Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) multibillion-dollar capital improvement plan includes the single largest modernization project undertaken in its history. Transit Capital Partners, a joint venture partner of Ascent, Patrick Engineering and Gannett Fleming, manage the CTA’s overall capital improvement program.

Client Background

The CTA operates the second largest transit system in the United States. It is an independent governmental agency with a mission to “deliver quality, affordable transit services that link people, jobs and communities.” On an average weekday, the CTA provides 1.6 million rides via its bus and rail service. Its rail system, known as “the ‘L,’” provides heavy rail rapid transit to the City of Chicago, two airports, and 35 suburbs through a network of eight rail lines and 145 stations. The Red Line, which is located north-south along the eastern edge of the city, is the system’s most-traveled rail line.

About the Project

The CTA’s $5.2B, five-year capital improvement program for 2020-2025 modernizes infrastructure to improve the travel experience for riders. The program includes a wide range of projects, from rehabilitating track, replacing viaducts, and restoring or building new rail stations, to improving accessibility, removing rail slow zones and adding new technologies. All are designed to improve the overall commuting experience by reducing commuting times, strengthening safety and security, and shortening commute time.

Within the current capital improvement program is the first phase of the largest single modernization project in the CTA’s history: the Red and Purple Modernization. The overall program for Red and Purple Modernization is designed to increase capacity on the city’s busiest rail line, ultimately rebuilding 9.6 miles of track that was built nearly a century ago. The first, $2.2B phase focuses on modernizing four key stations, their adjacent track and related support structures, and creating an elevated bypass to eliminate a critical bottleneck.


The CTA’s rapid transit system is immense: it covers nearly 225 miles of track and serves 145 stations. Capital improvements are ongoing but fluctuate in volume, size, stage of development, and funding, making it challenging to maintain an internal workforce that meets every need. As the CTA examined its capital improvement goals, it recognized a need for a combination of expertise, including technical and strategic excellence in program management and industry leadership in program controls.

How Does Ascent Help?

As part of the Transit Capital Partners joint venture, Ascent is part of a fully integrated team leading program management for the CTA. In this role, the joint venture oversees program planning, design, procurement oversight, program implementation and controls. It brings a distinctive combination of engineering for multibillion-dollar transit projects, history on CTA projects, and leading expertise in program management and controls. Within the partnership, Ascent’s focus is on strategically improving how the CTA delivers its program and on managing its program controls and administration.


The CTA has a proven team of program management experts in place with a history of executing, complex transit programs. By finding a team with tested expertise in strategic thinking, it is well positioned to execute its existing program or adjust it based on still-to-be determined funding sources.

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