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VivaLFuego Dec 13, 2006 3:00 AM

The rail system is a disaster. They knew, back in the 90s, that the O'hare branch would need major track work by the mid 2000s. However, this project was deferred in order to roll it into the Airport Express, which itself was planned and executed incredibly poorly, so far using $100 million in capital funds, much of which could have been spent on track maintenance.

And all the while, 1) no one has made a serious political effort to find funding to fix the north part of the red line, hence much of it is slow-zoned and 2)track maintenance hasn't been as good systemwide the last few years because CTA is undertaking so many major construction projects simultaneously that track maintenance crews have been diverted (Cermak, Dan Ryan, Ravenswood).

More funding would of course help immensely, by allowing more budget for track, structural, railcar, and infrastructural maintenance. But it's also very clear that a series of bad decisions, that will take along time to correct, were made (or maybe not made) at the upper levels of CTA management, and these need to be identified and acknowledged.

The sad news is that even if CTA really got on the ball tomorrow about properly maintaining the rail system, I fear we're looking at probably 2008 or 2009 before we'd be looking at significant reliability improvements.

Wright Concept Dec 13, 2006 3:25 AM

I wonder when I was living in Chicago for 5 years, When will the CTA start rehabbing the Elevated Loop. That part is the oldest and most used part of the system.

pottebaum Dec 13, 2006 3:36 AM

How do you think ridership on the rail portion of the system is doing this year?

VivaLFuego Dec 13, 2006 4:05 AM

^visionary,

re: the loop, They basically do it in bits and pieces. The structure and track in the loop is all in good shape. They are about to start upgrading the signaling and switch system (finally!). Re: stations, the only ones that haven't been rehabbed are State/Lake, Randolph/Wabash, Madison/Wabash, and Lasalle/Van Buren. Randolph and Madison will be demolished to build a Washington/Wabash station, which I think is somewhere in the design phase. State/Lake is also in the design phase. I don't know about LaSalle/Van Buren. CDOT is lead on the downtown station projects, so maybe ask LA21st if he knows anything about it.

^pottebaum,
believe it or not, it's still going up! I credit ever growing school enrollments and continued revitalization and residential construction. Of course, it probably would have grown even more if service had been more reliable for the last year. . .

LA21st Dec 13, 2006 4:49 AM

Nothing on LaSalle/Van Buren.

The next big thing will be State/Grand. That station really sucks right now.:yuck:

Latoso Dec 13, 2006 7:12 AM

:previous: Yeah it does. And I should know, as I'm always stuck in that damp dungeon of a station. Speaking of which, will they ever redo Harrison? You'd think with all the college students using it that it would be better.

denizen467 Dec 13, 2006 7:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LA21st (Post 2506562)
The next big thing will be State/Grand. That station really sucks right now.:yuck:

Amen. Any renders, or info?

Chicago Shawn Dec 14, 2006 12:07 AM

UGHHHHH!!!!! Here we go agian, a power failure on the red line. I have had it. Third World Countries have better systems than this. SO fucking pathetic.

The Illinois portion of that new expressway better be built as a toll road. No more wasting public money on this garbage with the never ending traffic paradox. As the news explains today, there are other infrastructure projects in the region far more worthy.

LA21st Dec 14, 2006 1:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by denizen467 (Post 2506853)
Amen. Any renders, or info?

Not yet, but it sounds like it will be bigger than the State/Lake red line rehab.

VivaLFuego Dec 14, 2006 4:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LA21st (Post 2508557)
Not yet, but it sounds like it will be bigger than the State/Lake red line rehab.

Yeah, I know it went out to bid a good year or 2 ago but they cancelled the contract. I was wondering if maybe there were some revisions to allow for potentially an eventual integration with the Carroll Ave. "transitway"? That would be so hot.

LA21st Dec 14, 2006 5:33 AM

Great question. Hmm...that would be awesome if it happens. I will ask around.

BVictor1 Dec 14, 2006 2:49 PM

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...l=chi-news-hed

Highway plan gets a boost
Routes to be studied for new Indiana link

By Stanley Ziemba
Tribune staff reporter
Published December 14, 2006


Illinois and Indiana have signed an agreement to study potential routes for the long-discussed Illiana Expressway, but actual construction and a formula to finance it are at least a couple of years away, Illinois transportation officials said Wednesday.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels announced the agreement during a Rotary Club luncheon Tuesday in northwest Indiana. Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Matt Vanover on Wednesday confirmed the accord was reached in November.

The 63-mile roadway, as proposed by Daniels, would run 13 miles in eastern Will County and link Interstate Highway 57 with Interstate Highway 65 near Lowell, Ind. It also would connect with the Indiana Toll Road and Interstate Highway 94 in Michigan City, Ind.

First proposed by architect and urban planner Daniel Burnham nearly 100 years ago, the highway has been on transportation officials' wish list since the 1960s to relieve increasing traffic on Interstate Highways 80/94 between the two states.

"The Illiana Expressway would not only alleviate congestion, but also stimulate jobs all along its route, helping both the economy and quality of life throughout Chicagoland," Daniels said at the Rotary luncheon.

Under the agreement, an engineering firm is to be selected early next year to perform an environmental impact analysis and identify a final highway alignment, Daniels said in a news release.

The study, estimated to cost between $5 million and $10 million, is expected to take no more than three years. The Indiana Department of Transportation will be the lead agency on the study, and the two states will share its cost, Daniels said.

Neither Indiana nor Illinois transportation officials have estimated how much the expressway might cost.

But Daniels said the Indiana portion of the expressway would be built with private money, not tax dollars, and would be operated by a private firm as a toll road. The state would retain ownership of the expressway in Indiana, he said.

Illinois officials have yet to consider how the state might finance its portion, Vanover said.

"At this point, it's too early to look at financing," he said. "We don't even know yet if [the expressway] is feasible, although we believe it is, what it might look like and what its potential alignment might be."

He added that with the state's financial woes, "our main focus now is maintaining our existing interstate system."

A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.), a longtime Illiana Expressway proponent, said the congressman is "very pleased" that the project appears to be moving forward. He and other officials have warned that with each passing year, the cost of building goes up and potential routes are eliminated as development spreads farther from Chicago.

"It's been talked about a long time, and the longer it is delayed, the more it is needed," said Weller spokesman Andy Fuller.

Village officials in Crete and Beecher in eastern Will County, whose roads are often inundated with trucks seeking to avoid traffic backups on I-80/94, also welcomed the announcement.

According to Daniels' office, 300,000 vehicles travel between Chicago and Indiana each day on I-80/94, the Indiana Toll Road, U.S. Highways 6 and 30 and local streets--and the number keeps growing. The number of trucks using the Borman Expressway (I-80/94 in Indiana), now 28,000 a day, is expected to increase by 50 percent in the next 20 years.

An Illiana Expressway would reduce truck traffic on the Borman by 22 percent and on U.S. 30 by 59 percent, according to the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission.

----------

sziemba@tribune.com



Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune

VivaLFuego Dec 14, 2006 3:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LA21st (Post 2509063)
Great question. Hmm...that would be awesome if it happens. I will ask around.

While not perfect, it would be a great first step towards the actual integration of the commuter rail system with rapid transit. I'm not holding my breath for cross platform transfers at Grand, but more likely something like a much larger mezannine that would allow for a direct connection in the paid area up to the street level BRT/Streetcar.

VivaLFuego Dec 14, 2006 3:52 PM

Oh lovely, more expressways! Meanwhile, our rapid transit system crumbles to dust. . .

Chicago3rd Dec 14, 2006 4:49 PM

Red Line Service Returns to Normal 7:38 p.m.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Service has resumed in both directions along the Red Line at normal speeds. Thank you for your patience while we restored service to normal.

So last night I was waiting for the Red Line at Belmont (6:35 p.m.)
The lady on the intercom said that the next Purple Line running north would all stops to Howard
The purple line came. The engineer said he was going north to Howard stopping at all stops.
Everyone loaded.
The Red Line pulled up.
The engineer kept saying he was heading north all stops to Howard.
Then he started yelling at a person holding the doors open.
The person at holding the doors open had NO CTA anything visible. All he had was a radio. He was yelling something about getting the Clark tower to tell the engineer to make it express.

ALL the while the red line (the first one heading north for some time) is now not moving again...because of this dispute. The Purple line is not moving either.

At this point we have 2 lines heading north being stalled by CTA Managers.

Finally the Purple line engineer told everyone to walk over to the red line so we all got off and got on the red line.

Then to add insult to injury...the very first red line heading north (the one I was in) because of the delay in the subway was now made to WAIT until the Purple line express train continued forward (Clark Tower had to switch the tracks Purple to Red back to Purple to Purple!!!!)

That is why the CTA sucks. It speaks volumes about CTA and its management.

VivaLFuego Dec 14, 2006 5:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago3rd (Post 2509720)
Red Line Service Returns to Normal 7:38 p.m.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Service has resumed in both directions along the Red Line at normal speeds. Thank you for your patience while we restored service to normal.

So last night I was waiting for the Red Line at Belmont (6:35 p.m.)
The lady on the intercom said that the next Purple Line running north would all stops to Howard
The purple line came. The engineer said he was going north to Howard stopping at all stops.
Everyone loaded.
The Red Line pulled up.
The engineer kept saying he was heading north all stops to Howard.
Then he started yelling at a person holding the doors open.
The person at holding the doors open had NO CTA anything visible. All he had was a radio. He was yelling something about getting the Clark tower to tell the engineer to make it express.

ALL the while the red line (the first one heading north for some time) is now not moving again...because of this dispute. The Purple line is not moving either.

At this point we have 2 lines heading north being stalled by CTA Managers.

Finally the Purple line engineer told everyone to walk over to the red line so we all got off and got on the red line.

Then to add insult to injury...the very first red line heading north (the one I was in) because of the delay in the subway was now made to WAIT until the Purple line express train continued forward (Clark Tower had to switch the tracks Purple to Red back to Purple to Purple!!!!)

That is why the CTA sucks. It speaks volumes about CTA and its management.

Honestly this doesn't sound like that big of a problem, given the operational nightmare that is Clark Junction and the fact that they were still trying to restore regular service at the point you were boarding.

What's more troubling to me are the seemingly-permanent slow zones, trains stopping and sitting for 5 minutes or more between stations, evacuating broken trains, key signals and switches breaking every couple weeks, etc.

VivaLFuego Dec 14, 2006 8:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lukecuj (Post 2510010)
The lost opportunity of the central area circulator is ever more glaring now.

I'm worried that the Circle line project should not be the next major build for the CTA. It should be a larger loop subway downtown. To me, we need a subway that circulates Canal, Congress, Columbus and Chicago.

It would tie in every Downtown Metra Station, Streaterville, Illinois Center, and Lakefront. It's sucks that Illinois Center has to run their own buses to the loop train stations... if that isn't a public policy failure i don't no what is.

If LA has been able to build miles of subways in the last 30 years, why hasn't Chicago been able to procure a minimal mileage segment of tunnels to at least expand the transit loop to where it should have been in the 1970's.

CTA runs the 122 and 123 shuttle buses to the train stations, so if I C runs their own shuttle, that's their perogative.

I agree with you on the circle line....ideally, there would be 2 circle lines. I say one along Clinton, Roosevelt, Michigan/Columbus, and Division (close to what you propose), and the other along Western, Belmont, and 35th. But that's just a pipe dream. I know I'd rather have one circle line at Ashland, plus the Carroll Ave. BRT/street car, as opposed to nothing at all.

Wright Concept Dec 14, 2006 9:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 2509780)
Honestly this doesn't sound like that big of a problem, given the operational nightmare that is Clark Junction and the fact that they were still trying to restore regular service at the point you were boarding.

What's more troubling to me are the seemingly-permanent slow zones, trains stopping and sitting for 5 minutes or more between stations, evacuating broken trains, key signals and switches breaking every couple weeks, etc.

Didn't most of the trains on the Red and Blue lines received a mid-life rehab? (due to the '98 or '99 blizzard) But then again the tracks and signals are really old and need serious replacement.

VivaLFuego Dec 14, 2006 10:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lukecuj (Post 2510336)
Yea i know we need to take what we can get. It's just amazing that both Streaterville and Illinois Center/Lakeshore East by themselves could constitute two major downtowns in terms of people who work/live/play in each one, but besides bus routes, there's no tie in the CTA heavy rail system at all, and worse, no plans too.

Well the Carroll Ave. street car plan would run all the way to Navy Pier, hopfully also hooking up to the Grand Red Line stop (see above about keeping fingers crossed that the Grand rehab will include room for an easy connection). The transitway seems to have a decent shot at happening, funded largely be renewal of the downtown TIF.

But yeah, had the Circulator project gone through, it would have been built-out by now.....how great would that be? Lakeshore east, Streeterville, the Loop, and the West Loop all connected by lightrail.

SapphireBlueEyes Dec 15, 2006 2:52 AM

Olympic Bids, could bid Farewell to Chicago
 
The major crisis with CTA will make our chance at getting the 2016 Olympics just a pleasant dream turned nightmare. It would be so sad with all the real estate boom in the city in recent years and other beautification developments, to have the rug pulled out from under us because of blatently inept CTA management officials. The slogan for the Clinton 92' Democratic Presidential Campaign was: "IT'S TIME FOR THEM TO GO!" The same is currently being shouted against cta's management.

-SapphireBlueEyes-
:notacrook:


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