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ardecila Dec 26, 2008 1:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 3992823)
The STAR Line? I sure as heck hope not. Talk about a waste of money and resources! It's so pathetic an idea, there aren't even ridership figures projected for it yet! It's unneeded and a horrid waste of resources.

The line running down the median of the Jane Addams Tollway from O'Hare to Prairie Stone isn't wasteful at all. It would provide a rail transit link between downtown and Woodfield, allowing city dwellers to access the lower prices and chain stores of the mall and its surrounding areas without a car. Reverse-commuters would also benefit from the rail access to all the office parks, including SBC, Motorola, and Prairie Stone. Events at the Sears Center will be accessible by rail.

When Airport Express is eventually built in the city, there will be a good set of express tracks along the Blue Line that could speed these STAR Line trains all the way downtown - which is why some smart people are needed at Metra to purchase vehicles compatible with CTA's system.

You need to see the big picture with things like this. Even the portion of the line running along the EJ&E wouldn't be a waste of resources if they do it in a low-cost way. DMUs can provide inexpensive, fuel-efficient trains, and Metra can use large bus shelters instead of stationhouses. If it is successful, then more permanent stations can be built.

Mr Downtown Dec 26, 2008 1:57 AM

The problem with the Tollway corridor is that none of the destinations are close enough to any conceivable track routing for users to feel the train offers a useful option. Suburban office parks are just too difficult to retrofit for people to arrive at a single rail stop. If you have a patchwork of shuttle buses, the system is utterly incomprehensible to casual or first-time users and users must endure a three- or four-seat ride just to have the privilege of being on a rail vehicle for a short part of their journeys. Much better, in my opinion, to set up an Ottawa-style busway in tollway HOT lanes. Buses originating in various Northwest Side corridors would make stops to interchange passengers before leaving the tollway to directly serve destinations such as Prairie Stone or Woodfield.

http://www.chicagocarto.com/NWC.gif

VivaLFuego Dec 26, 2008 3:20 AM

Nice map. I know Rail Claimore and I have discussed something similar... probably the most viable option from a cost/operations standpoint (with a comparable network extending from the Forest Park blue line terminal westward along the I-88 corridor).

I think the I-90 corridor definitely needs dramatic transit improvements, but I'm not convinced the STAR line would serve those needs without immediate and drastic changes in land use guidelines around station locations. Rail service of any sort (rapid, light, commuter) generally needs at least one major high-density traffic generator with difficult/expensive/constrained parking along its route to support ridership. The STAR line lacks this. This could be ameliorated if the proposal were reworked to send STAR line trains downtown to Union station from the get-go, so it's basically just another radial line with semi-decent reverse commute capabilities. But with the line terminating in Rosemont, it lacks such a traffic generator and thus lacks a reason for existence as a rail facility.

ardecila Dec 26, 2008 6:55 AM

As I said, Airport Express tracks would allow this thing to run express from O'Hare (or Rosemont) to Block 37. Otherwise, it could potentially use the routing of the North Central Service to access Union Station.

The broad support of this proposal among northwest-suburban city governments makes me think that land-use changes would accompany this rail line. A few years ago, when it seemed like the STAR Line was imminent, they published plans for TOD along the line.

Here is just one of the proposed villages (Centex Meadows Pointe), at the NW corner of 90 and 53. Across 90, a dense business district was proposed and two of the buildings were even built. Schaumburg would thus become the closest thing in the Chicago area to one of DC's satellite centers. A large parcel exists in Hoffman Estates called Sutton Crossing that was also slated to become a transit-oriented office complex. As-of-yet, it has not been developed.

http://img301.imageshack.us/img301/2...spointeln2.jpg

nomarandlee Dec 26, 2008 7:05 AM

Quote:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...,6793026.story

Illinois transportation projects sought as part of federal stimulus package
Experts fear state politicking could fritter away bailout

By Jon Hilkevitch | Tribune reporter
8:54 PM CST, December 25, 2008


......But the state's track record of too much politicking and too little discipline over project selection creates a risk that the one-time-only infrastructure bailout could be frittered away, according to planning and transportation experts.

.......Gov. Rod Blagojevich has provided the Obama transition team with about 300 transportation projects estimated to cost $2.4 billion and put about 94,000 people to work in the state.

.......Projects that can have a large impact should make up the core of any stimulus package, the experts said. Examples include improving the region's mass-transit systems by building new Metra commuter rail stations, eliminating all Chicago Transit Authority slow zones, purchasing new trains and buses and modernizing the congested rail freight network..................
..

nomarandlee Dec 26, 2008 8:15 AM

Sorry, I find the STAR line to have too many negatives. I see it as awkward attempt to retrofit past mistakes and place mass transit long AFTER the auto centered development and infrastructure rules undisputed. Trying to serve these dispersed office parks and car oriented retail with rail isn't a natural partner for rail or for the developments that were 100%built in according with the auto. You can't put lipstick on pig and those office parks and malls along the Jane Addams are car oriented and will still will be many hundreds of feet if not many blocks away from the primary destination and pedestrian will be asked to walk through many feet of overpass bridges and parking lots in order to get to them.

The Jane Addams portion makes more sense in that there is a lot of activity along the corridor already however that is by far the more expensive segment of the line. The EJ&E segment would be far cheaper but that doesn't have any appreciable retail or residential districts along the corridor and I haven't heard of any towns along it interested in say building new downtown TOD's type districts along the EJ&J. Nor have I heard any serious proposals to build density around other Metra lines with which the EJ&J intersects intersect and which the STAR lines advocates promotes the connectivity with those lines as one of its strenghts. If anything I think that both would best be served by BRT lines to carry dispersed rider ship more efficiently throughout the outer metro. Part of the STARS attraction though is that the EJ&E line would cost almost nothing to build but if you have to build a new busway then that plus is out the window.


I also have serious skepticism that a seamless sensible transfer that could be built around O'Hare to connect with the Blue Line with a Star that a good amount of people would make use for daily or regular commutes. A proper efficient transfer facility or even one that could use both METRA and CTA infrastructure to make it a seamless line would cost much more then the quoted figures and fall under a many multi-billion MEGA project label and I fail to see the payoff in it compared to countless other theoretical mega projects that could be conjured up to improve transit for the most benefit elsewhere in the metro. I just have a hard time thinking that any efficent route or station connection involving the Blue Line or its airport express tracks as not very unlikely. If there was a rail option I would think that a new seamless rail feed from the Jane Addams into the Metra NCS just north of the O'Hare Metra station though that short infrastructure connection I imagine would be cumbersome. I wonder if there are really enough reverse commuters with easy access to the NCS linked line in the city to those I-90 destinations to warrent it.


edit: Just saw the Schaumburg rendering. I think Schaumburg should focus on zoning around the Metra station they already have and is massively underutilized in regard to TOD. Perhaps they could even grow a semblance of a real downtown out proposals to build TOD adjacent to two autocentric expressways.

Mr Downtown Dec 26, 2008 4:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 3993638)
Airport Express tracks would allow this thing to run express from O'Hare (or Rosemont) to Block 37.

What kind of equipment could run in the EJE corridor (where FRA buff strength requirements must be met), run for miles along a new corridor at high speeds, and then switch to 600VDC and squeeze through the Kimball tunnel or around the corner at Lake/Dearborn?

ardecila Dec 27, 2008 8:28 AM

I was thinking that the EJ&E corridor and the Tollway corridor could be operated with separate vehicles; fuel-efficient diesel multiple units along the EJ&E and some sort of CTA-compatible junior heavy rail along the Tollway. A transfer would be put in place at Prairie Stone.

From what I understand, the Airport Express would use new third-rail tracks between downtown and Jefferson Park built along the UP-NW line. From Jefferson Park to O'Hare, a set of express tracks would be built along the Blue Line.

I've actually been thinking about this on a regional scale - that is, creating a third rail system like the Paris RER or the German S-Bahn that mediates between the huge regional scale of Metra and the central-city scale of the L. The Forest Park branch of the Blue Line has space for express tracks along most of its length; this would dovetail with the planning efforts to extend the Blue Line out to Lombard. This could be operated as a direct-to-downtown service after Forest Park if the express tracks were built. Of course, the Chicago region already HAD such a system in the interurban railways a century ago - surely the vastly-increased population densities in the suburbs today justify the return of this concept on some level.

On the South Side, Metra Electric already operates a service similar to this.

Mr Downtown Dec 27, 2008 5:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 3994787)
From what I understand, the Airport Express would use new third-rail tracks between downtown and Jefferson Park built along the UP-NW line.

First I've ever heard of that idea. Airport Express was to use new signaling and passing sidings along the existing Blue Line tracks.

I agree that Chicago would be well-served by a regional rail system, but we already have the basis for one, same as Philadelphia, M√ľnchen, Paris, Melbourne, Perth, etc. Just connect our existing suburb-to-city lines. I've always thought we missed a great opportunity to let the radial commuter lines do their own downtown distribution. Here's Bion J. Arnold's scheme for through-routing steam road commuter service. It still makes a lot of sense to me:

http://img236.imageshack.us/img236/7...hrouteslg7.gif
Hooker, George Ellsworth. Through Routes for Chicago's Steam Railroads. City Club of Chicago, 1914

1. IC to C&NW North Line via a new subway under St. Clair and Ohio
2. Rock Island, NYC, and C&WI to C&NW Northwest Line via a new subway under LaSalle and Ohio
3. Alton, Wabash, and Pennsy to Milwaukee Road lines via Union Station
4. Burlington to C&NW West Line via Union Station

Though I'd probably put the new subway under Chicago rather than Ohio, I still think that would be a useful and farsighted way for us to spend a billion dollars. Arnold took a lot of trouble to avoid crossing lines, which might not today be so essential. It might make sense to reconsider his threading, so that the Burlington, for instance, would link to the C&NW North Line rather than doubling back west. Or, since every line basically goes through a throat near Kinzie/Desplaines, a big transfer station there would allow any possible transfer. Of course, my first move would be to put all the Metra lines on half-hour non-rush headways, so the system could work as true regional rail rather than commuter rail.

emathias Dec 28, 2008 7:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3995008)
...
http://img236.imageshack.us/img236/7...hrouteslg7.gif
Hooker, George Ellsworth. Through Routes for Chicago's Steam Railroads. City Club of Chicago, 1914

...

The publication from which that was taken is fully available online and makes a very interesting read. Better put together and thought out than much of more recent publications out of the RTA.


You can read it here.

ardecila Dec 28, 2008 9:01 AM

^^ It's interesting that, back in 1914, the railway terminals were regarded as psychological barriers to development and pedestrian traffic, similar to how to now regard the interstate highways carved through our cities. Of course, today, we now hold the old stations in high esteem, and development is flooding past those barriers that seemed so objectionable to previous generations. Nil sub sole novum.

sukwoo Dec 28, 2008 5:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 3995899)
^^ It's interesting that, back in 1914, the railway terminals were regarded as psychological barriers to development and pedestrian traffic, similar to how to now regard the interstate highways carved through our cities. Of course, today, we now hold the old stations in high esteem, and development is flooding past those barriers that seemed so objectionable to previous generations. Nil sub sole novum.

Probably because of all the soot from the steam locomotives.

Mr Downtown Dec 28, 2008 6:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 3995899)
^^ It's interesting that, back in 1914, the railway terminals were regarded as psychological barriers to development and pedestrian traffic

What makes you think that? Is there something about that in the book that I've forgotten?

In 1914 the railway terminals had all sorts of affiliated uses for LCL freight handling, locomotive servicing, and passenger coach storage that required big land areas. Those were removed or bridged over in subsequent years. Look at how much land (blue) was occupied by railroad facilities in those days:

http://www.chicagocarto.com/burnham/...lroads1930.jpg

emathias Dec 28, 2008 9:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 3995899)
^^ It's interesting that, back in 1914, the railway terminals were regarded as psychological barriers to development and pedestrian traffic, similar to how to now regard the interstate highways carved through our cities. Of course, today, we now hold the old stations in high esteem, and development is flooding past those barriers that seemed so objectionable to previous generations. Nil sub sole novum.

It wasn't so much the stations per se that the report objected to, but what was necessary for them and also that there were too few of them.

There are fewer stations today than there were then. And where development near stations is strongest, the yards are either elevated (Northwestern) or have been torn up (Dearborn Station, plus the yards that Lakeshore East have replaced) or have been decked over (Union Station, and the yards Millenium Park are over).

But we could further reduce the impact if we through-routed routes. Not to mention that through-routing them would reduce the need for some bus routes, and for "L" or subway expansion. It would also make shorter headways during off hours easier and more cost-efficient. It would be really nice to have metra through-routed, because it would better integrate it with the rest of the system and make it easier for people from all over the region to commute to all over downtown. If you live in Evanston right now, and work in Streeterville, 90% of the people are going to drive. If they could take Metra to Watertower, I bet a lot more would ride. That was a big part of the report - reducing vehicle traffic into the central core, even before the vast majority of people owned a car. The author recognized that for people who didn't work near a terminal, they were more likely to drive. By through-routing, you increased the 1-seat options for people, with additional downtown "Metra" stations opening up non-driving options for people living outside of the central city.

That need still exists - in fact, it exists more today than it did then. Evanston to Streeterville, Oak Park to Roosevelt and Canal, Beverly to River North, Arlington Heights to Chinatown. All these would be useful and add tremendous value to Metra, and probably more than justify increased off-hours service. Hopefully even increase rush-hour frequencies.

Also, one of the objections in the report was that to get from the station entrance to the tracks for most of the stations took the better part of 1,000 feet of walking that was unavoidable. Better-integrated through-stations would probably decrease this, further increasing the attractiveness of Metra for commuting.

Rilestone75 Dec 29, 2008 10:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChicagoChicago (Post 3993081)
Oh please...don't even pretend to say that urine and loud noises are any more frequent on trains than they are on the street. I suppose he refuses to walk on the sidewalk for fear of smelling a sewer vent too.

There is no question that mass transit could be better. For that to occur though, there must be funding for it.

First of all if you have read any of my previous posts, you'll realize that I don't drive and that I do in fact take the train almost every day. Second, you might think my points are weak, that is fine, but they are just illistrations of what some people consider unacceptable issues. Again, my point is that before the gov. starts penalizing drivers, they need to have a world class public transit system. Chicago does not.

the urban politician Dec 30, 2008 2:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3996134)
What makes you think that? Is there something about that in the book that I've forgotten?

^ I don't know about terminals, but just the other day I was reading that rail lines laid out in the middle of dense urban cities in the late 19th/early 20th century were seen as a barrier and separated once unified neighborhoods into "desirable" and "poorer" ones.

Sounds exactly like the expressway story half a century later..

Mr Downtown Dec 30, 2008 5:06 AM

In fact, it's the same story. Many urban expressways ran alongside rail lines, reinforcing separations that already existed. This is particularly notable in Chicago, where only the Edens and part of the Eisenhower didn't follow that pattern.

ardecila Dec 30, 2008 8:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3996134)
What makes you think that? Is there something about that in the book that I've forgotten?

The report specifically cites the elevated platforms of Northwestern Station (now Ogilvie) and LaSalle Street Station as being nasty, unpleasant spaces to pass beneath, discouraging any sort of through traffic and confining the density of the Loop.

In history, there has generally been a backlash by the upper-crust against the aesthetics of works of infrastructure, and only later do they come to be regarded as beautiful. The Romans considered their own aqueducts to be ugly, functional design. People of the early 1900s considered their rail overpasses, transit lines, factories and warehouses to also be ugly and merely functional. Today, we revere these things where they have been well-preserved. The next generation, or the one after that, will come to appreciate the aesthetics of stack interchanges and LA's concrete riverbeds.

arenn Dec 30, 2008 2:08 PM

I already love stack interchanges!

What book are you referring to, by the way?

Mr Downtown Dec 31, 2008 4:51 AM

The book referred to is Hooker, George Ellsworth.
Through Routes for Chicago's Steam Railroads.
City Club of Chicago, 1914

I'm also a fan of stack interchanges, at least as done in California and, to some degree, Texas. Do you know the book LA Freeway: An Appreciative Essay, by David Brodsly?

California's climate allows soaring box girders, but most of the interchanges in the Chicago area are really lame. For the 355/88 interchange, the Tollway Authority managed to combine the worst features of box girder and segmented construction, and then hung ugly drainpipes on it to make it even worse.


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