A 100-Year-Old Chicago Transit Line’s Replacement Pondered

» An early scoping report suggests that a subway replacing the Red and Purple Lines in Chicago’s North Side could cost less than an elevated modernization program.

Elevated rapid transit — like any kind of physical infrastructure — degrades over time.

Faced with decades of carrying hundreds of thousands of people daily in a notoriously extreme climate, the rail line that runs local Red and express Purple trains north from Chicago’s Belmont Station to Linden Terminal in Wilmette Evanston along 9.5 miles of track has seen better days. While much of the rest of the elevated and subway system operated by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has been renovated in recent years, this section of rail corridor and the stations associated with it has continued to degrade, resulting in slowed-down, unreliable trains and damaged structural conditions. Of the 21 stations concerned by this corridor, only 6 have handicap

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In Charlotte, a Busy Highway May be No Place for Rapid Transit

» A recommendation from the Urban Land Institute suggests pulling a proposed rail line out of a highway and onto a neighborhood street.

Take one trip on the Dan Ryan branch of Chicago’s Red Line and you’ll be convinced of the perils of locating transit stations in the medians of fast-moving expressways. Getting to stops is hard enough: It usually requires crossing first a huge intersection featuring cars hopping on and off the freeway; then, on too small of a sidewalk you’re required to bridge over several lanes of rushing traffic below. Once you’re finally on the platform, though, the situation may be worse: Cars are whizzing by at high speeds — producing tremendous noise and emitting nauseating pollutants — on both sides of the track. It’s certainly not a welcoming experience.

Fundamentally, standing there at a station waiting for a train makes you feel like you are a second-class citizen

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Chicago Red Line Extension Moves Forward as Some Push Cheaper Alternative

» Now with federal planning money, new access to city’s far South Side could significantly reduce travel time for thousands of commuters.

Last week, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) announced that it had received $285,000 in planning money from the federal government to pursue a draft environmental impact study on the extension of the Red Line rapid transit corridor south to 130th Street. The agency says that this project, which will bring rail transit service to the city’s southeastern border, is its top priority.

Inhabitants of the city’s far South Side have for years complained that they are left out of the rapid transit system, which was extended along the Dan Ryan Expressway to 95th Street in 1969. Their community is the city’s poorest but residents suffer from long travel times to reach the Loop downtown. Decades of plans have suggested lengthening the route further south, but

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Chicago’s Plans for a High-Speed Airport Link Revived Thanks to Investor Interest

» Mayor Richard Daley hopes for a fully privately funded project connecting downtown with O’Hare Airport, but the city should be sure not to give away too much in the process.

Chicago, perhaps like no other city in the United States, has set itself apart as a center of trade, and recently that has been expressed in the growth of its two airports, O’Hare and Midway. With the resurgence of passenger rail promoted by the Obama Administration, it may be able to reassert its dominance in that field; it will sit at the confluence of three upgraded intercity rail lines already at least partially funded: One to St. Louis, another to Detroit, and a third to Milwaukee and Madison.

Now Mayor Richard Daley (D) is promoting a plan to connect the two modes of transportation via an express rail line between the Loop and O’Hare International. This is only the most

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Chicago’s Parking Fiasco Fails to Stem Calls for Privatization of Infrastructure

» As the United Kingdom encourages investors to pony up billions of pounds for its High-Speed 1 route, Chicago’s sell-off of parking assets comes back to bite.

Who knew an investment in public infrastructure could be so profitable? Or rather, are government entities being bamboozled out of the value of their own property?

About two years ago, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley sold off the rights to 75 years of his city’s public parking meters for $1.15 billion to a partnership of private companies led by Morgan Stanley. Mayor Daley pushed the city council to approve the deal, since it would mean a huge cash infusion into a municipal government facing large budgetary shortfalls. And he argued that putting the parking system in the hands of private enterprise would bring in market-based pricing, essential to improve the circulation and distribution of automobiles in the city’s downtown, but impossible to implement

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  • by Yonah Freemark
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