The transit system in Chicago is the first in the nation to benefit from an overhauled federal grant program.
That's allowing the Chicago Transit Authority to move ahead with planning for more rebuilding work on the rail system's backbone Red Line and the North suburban Purple Line.
Eligibility for the grant program was expanded to include existing transit systems in need of work because they have reached or surpassed full capacity.
The Red Line is the busiest in Chicago's rail transit system, carrying a quarter-million people on an average weekday.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin pressed to expand the eligibility requirements for the "New Starts" grant program.
He said Tuesday "it's only fair that existing transit systems in vibrant, growing cities like Chicago are allowed to compete for federal funding."