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Council committee agrees to mayor’s RTA board nominee

A CTA trapulls inGarfield StatiRed Line. File Pho|  Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

A CTA train pulls into the Garfield Station on the Red Line. File Photo | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

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Updated: March 7, 2013 6:37AM



Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointment of his transition team co-chair to the RTA board sailed through a City Council committee Tuesday after Sarah Pang promised to help find the money to extend the CTA’s Red Line to 130th Street.

Pang is a senior vice-president at commercial insurer CNA who served as former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s deputy chief-of-staff and point person with the Police and Fire Departments.

She co-chaired Emanuel’s transition team and played a pivotal role in the behind-the-scenes search that culminated in the mayor’s appointment of Newark, N.J. police chief Garry McCarthy as Chicago Police superintendent.

Now, Pang will replace former CTA Chairwoman Carole Brown on an RTA board that has 15 appointed members but only five of them representing Chicago. Brown resigned after being reappointed to a term that expires in July, 2017.

During Tuesday’s confirmation hearing, Pang made it clear that her first priority will be to deliver on Emanuel’s campaign promise to extend the CTA’s Red Line to 130th Street.

“I personally feel very optimistic about it. This is the time that this is going to happen. There’s a lot of momentum,” Pang said.

“Ald. Beale [Transportation Committee Chairman] made an excellent point about doing the renovations on the current line [first] so that it demonstrates your ability to run a large project. It gets you ready for it. It helps the whole project make more sense. It was the right staging of it.”

Pressed on where the CTA would find the $1.5 billion needed to build the five-mile extension, Pang referred to the CTA’s decision to hire Goldman Sachs to investigate public-private partnerships.

Just last week, CTA President Forrest Claypool said he was convinced that a public-private partnership would be part of the funding puzzle.

“Creative financing could be a very positive thing….I’m sure there are some great ideas on the table,” Pang said.

Pang’s promise to use the Washington contacts she forged during 10 years as an aide to former U.S. Sen. Alan Dixon (D-Il.) and nine on Daley’s staff to help deliver the long-awaited Red Line extension was music to the ears of South Side aldermen.

“We’re in Step 4 of Step 7 as far as getting federal approval, but the Red Line upgrade is gonna lay the foundation. You can’t have a Red Line in dire need of [work] from 95th to Cermak and build an extension so you go fast, then have to slow down at 95th,” Beale said.

“The upgrade is extremely critical at this time. And once that’s done, we’ll be right on target to get the extension under way.”

Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) said the RTA desperately needs an energetic and “strategic thinker” like Pang.

“I would like you to look into…Metra and the quality of their access on South Side communities and also the repair of infrastructure, especially the bridges that service Metra trains,” Dowell said.

“Those improvements need to be done and they haven’t been done on the South Side.”

Pang promised to sit down with Dowell within two weeks of taking her seat on the RTA board. Pang said she has no plans to accept either the $25,000-a-year salary for RTA board members or the generous benefits



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