» A major roadway is advanced, in violation of the consensus-based plan.
Yesterday, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) policy committee voted to approve the addition of a major new highway to the regional plan document. If built, the Illiana Expressway will run 47 miles between I-55 and I-65 in Illinois and Indiana, about 10 miles south of the existing built-up area of the Chicago region.
The project was supported by the relevant state departments of transportation as an essential complement to the existing mobility system and an economic development tool. But the decision to add it to the regional plan suggests a breakdown in what had been until recently a metropolitan-wide consensus about which projects to fund. Though the adoption of the project does not mean the end of the plan, it does imply that sticking to a regional plan in the face of political
Continue reading In the Chicago region, a setback for regional planning »
» The change in service will cut off service to stations south of Roosevelt for five months. The move will be controversial and inconvenience many, but it will solve problems that would otherwise take years to fix — at a lower cost.
In less than a year’s time, the Chicago Transit Authority will eliminate service on the portions of the Red Line that run through the city’s south side, affecting roughly 80,000 daily journeys for a period of five months. The effort is designed to allow for the quick renovation of this rapid transit segment, replacing about 10 miles of degraded track with desperately needed new infrastructure. It’s a risky move, likely to enflame tensions in an area of the city that has suffered decades of economic difficulties. But if the CTA pulls the project off successfully, Chicago may be setting a precedent for other cities to follow.
The southern portion of the
Continue reading Chicago Plans to Shut Red Line South to Perform Quick Rehab »
» Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announces billions for infrastructure upgrades.
Though the details are not yet in full view, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposal to spend $7.2 billion over the next three years on infrastructure upgrades represents a truly significant advance in the field of municipal investment in the United States. It’s a unified plan to spend public and private funds on improved transit, parks, water, and educational facilities.
What a contrast to the U.S. Congress, an allusion to which I can hardly overlook in this context. Last week, House and Senate officials pushed forward an extension of the existing surface transportation legislation — the ninth such extension since SAFETEA-LU, the previous law, originally was supposed to expire in 2009.
The problem, suffice it to say, is not cowardice or nonsense political wheeling-dealing, but rather relatively minor — but painfully partisan — differences in perspective on the national transportation system. Over in the
Continue reading If Washington Can’t Commit, Chicago is Ready to Go It Alone »
» A series of bus lanes will link commuter rail stations, downtown, and the Navy Pier. It’s not quite a transitway — despite the branding — but it will speed movement for thousands of passengers.
A year and a half after Chicago won $24.6 million in federal funds for the construction of an urban circulator downtown, the city announced this week that it will contribute $7.3 million in tax increment financing to improve the state of bus service in the urban center and link commuter rail stations to office buildings. Together, the money will provide for painting dedicated bus lanes on the Madison/Washington and Clinton/Canal Street pairs for a total of two miles, offer signal priority, improve bus shelters, and add bike lanes. New buses and a small bus transit center at Union Station are also part of the plan.
Though the improvements will be most visible
Continue reading Chicago Commits to Downtown Bus Priority »
» A grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation will speed up both passenger and freight trains by eliminating delays caused by a grade crossing.
Chicago is at the center of the American freight rail system, handling 40% of U.S. rail freight on 500 daily trains. It forms the primary junction of the four biggest American freight rail companies — BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific — in addition to the two big Canadian carriers, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific. But the complex and intertwined web of tracks that brings trains into and out of the city is hopelessly out of date and causing congestion that limits the number of both freight and passenger trains that can run there.
Last week, ground was broken on the Englewood Flyover, a major element of CREATE, a grand scheme to eliminate such delays in the Chicago area. CREATE — which
Continue reading At the Heart of the U.S. Freight Rail System, Chicago Advances Grade Separation »