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Extend Red Line to 130th Street, Emanuel says

Updated: April 1, 2011 5:05PM

Mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel stood in a gospel music store at 107th and Halsted Thursday to announce his first mass-transit priority as mayor would be to extend the Red Line to 130th Street.

“Stopping at 95th Street cuts off stores like this from commuters and customers,” Emanuel said.

Extending the line would cost about $1.4 billion, but Emanuel said he demonstrated as a congressman he would be “strong, direct … and focused” when it comes to winning federal money for Chicago, as he did for the Brown Line modernization.

He also wants $300,000 to fix up the tracks from 18th to 95th streets and another $1 billion to modernize the tracks north of Belmont.

Thursday’s announcement was a “heads up to Springfield and Washington, D.C.” that the Red Line extension will be his top mass-transit priority if elected. He said the project could bring 4,000 construction jobs.

Emanuel spoke as the other three top contenders for mayor, Carol Moseley Braun, Miguel del Valle and Gery Chico, gathered for a forum on the Northwest Side, which like most other community forums, Emanuel skipped.

“I’m like 13-0 with him on community forums,” del Valle said Wednesday night at an environmental/development forum downtown attended by 2,000 voters. All the major candidates except Emanuel attended.

Emanuel defended his absence at the forum Thursday morning by ticking off the 80 “L” stops he has been to while campaigning and the 20 to 30 grocery stores. Community residents have plenty of chance to talk to him there, he said.

Emanuel attended his first debate Monday and has committed to appear at three more before Election Day Feb. 22.

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