Obama gives Chicago $1B for transit as he leaves office

CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago is to receive more than $1 billion from President Barack Obama's administration to help modernize the city's Red and Purple lines as part of a public transit construction project to create an estimated 6,000 jobs.

The funding was finalized Monday, a day before Obama is scheduled to give his farewell address in his hometown. Officials from Chicago and Illinois took the opportunity to thank Obama for not forgetting his roots during his time as president.

"Tomorrow, the president is going to come here to thank Chicago," U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said during a Monday morning news conference announcing the funding agreement. "Today I want to make sure that we thank him. Time and again the Obama administration has not forgotten where he came from."

The Chicago Transit Authority said the effort is the largest capital project in the transit agency's history. The funding will help rebuild the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr stations and roughly a mile of adjacent tracks and track structure. It will also construct a Red-Purple bypass to improve service while reducing delays and overcrowding.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the project will create thousands of jobs in the city over the next four years.

"You cannot have an economy move on a 21st century pace if it's built on a 20th century structure," Emanuel said. "What we do in the next two to three years will determine what Chicago will be like for the next 20 to 30 years."

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