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Red line right on time

After riding traGarfield statiSenator Dick DurbGov. PQuinn tour new facility which was completed time budget  Thursday morning 10-17-13.

After riding the train to the Garfield station, Senator Dick Durbin and Gov. Pat Quinn tour the new facility which was completed on time and budget Thursday morning 10-17-13. Kevin Tanaka/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 19, 2013 6:26AM

Like trains with deteriorating tracks, government has plenty of slow spots, as in big public projects that fall far behind schedule.

Would you expect anything else?

Work on the CTA Red Line from the Cermak-Chinatown stop south to 95th Street, though, is wrapping up on time. The 10.2-mile segment will reopen Sunday, meaning no one has to worry about being stranded by construction delays in January.

And the project came in on budget at $425 million, which is a much better deal, for example, than the estimated $24 billion cost of the government shutdown that ended this week. For that money, we could have extended the Red Line all the way to Chattanooga, Tenn.

The CTA says it was the first transit agency in the country to replace such a large stretch of tracks in only five months. By comparison, rehabbing 20 miles of the Green Line back in the 1990s took a year and four months.

Here’s another comparison: The CTA started work just about when the U.S. government officially hit its debt limit in mid-May and had to resort to extraordinary accounting measures. In the time it took Congress to round up enough votes for a simple debt ceiling bill, Chicago fixed 10 miles of the Red Line. Seems like a wiser use of time and money to us.

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