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Rail Claimore Apr 4, 2008 10:53 PM

:previous: Another reason to quit watching TV.

the urban politician Apr 8, 2008 3:43 AM

Coming to the lineup: Metra stop at The Cell

April 7, 2008
BY GUY TRIDGELL Staff writer
White Sox fans clamoring for a Metra stop at The Cell, your wait is almost over.

Metra soon will begin seeking contractors to build a new station to serve U.S. Cellular Field and the Illinois Institute of Technology. Construction will start this summer. The station will open during the 2009 baseball season.
http://www.southtownstar.com/news/88...trasox.article[/

jpIllInoIs Apr 8, 2008 3:30 PM

So Shore RR update
 
http://www.nictd-wlc.com/

Northern Indiana Commuter Transit has updated it's website to include plans and maps of the Rail Expansion paln for Valpo and Lowell, IN.

i_am_hydrogen Apr 8, 2008 4:25 PM

Google, CTA teaming up to aid trip planning
Online site offers step-by-step travel instructions, plus photos


By Jon Hilkevitch | Tribune reporter
11:17 AM CDT, April 8, 2008

CTA customers can now use Google to plan their rides on trains and buses under an agreement announced Tuesday.

The new technology partnership between the transit authority and the Internet search-engine giant incorporates a trip-planning function with photographs of locations provided by Google's mapping service. The site is available at www.maps.google.com/chicago.

Riders can enter the start and end points of their trip, and the computer software will produce several itineraries to choose from. The agency hopes the service, which is being provided at no cost to the CTA will generate new ridership, President Ron Huberman said at a news conference Tuesday in the agency's headquarters at 567 W. Lake St.

"We hope people will see this as an alternative to find a faster way to work," Huberman said. The announcement was made in a CTA meeting room that was transformed into a sound stage, complete with loud, pulsating music, pyramids of large colored cubes in Google's color schemes, futuristic ergodynamic chairs and a large buffet table.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/techno...,3820867.story

aaron38 Apr 8, 2008 5:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by i_am_hydrogen (Post 3470340)
Riders can enter the start and end points of their trip, and the computer software will produce several itineraries to choose from.

I'll have to check that out. Half the reason I never take the bus in the city is that the routes are so cryptic and tangled, it's not a very easy system to jump into. It's easier to just walk a few more blocks to an El station.

I did notice though that on the higher zoom levels of the google maps, that they now show all the bus stops. Being able to map a trip with the transfers worked out is great.

VivaLFuego Apr 8, 2008 7:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jpIllInoIs (Post 3470205)
http://www.nictd-wlc.com/

Northern Indiana Commuter Transit has updated it's website to include plans and maps of the Rail Expansion paln for Valpo and Lowell, IN.

This project is a textbook example of the silliness of having (state-created) agency-planning as opposed to regional planning, with Metra also working on a New Start for the "Southeast Service". Clearly, both SES and the Lowell NICTD branch aren't both justified; it's one or the other. But both studies are advancing in a vacuum assuming that the other doesn't exist.

Personally, I'd rather see the SES killed and both NICTD projects move forward, since the SES would cannibalize the grade-seperated electric treasure that is the ME.

emathias Apr 8, 2008 11:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by aaron38 (Post 3470545)
I'll have to check that out. Half the reason I never take the bus in the city is that the routes are so cryptic and tangled, it's not a very easy system to jump into. It's easier to just walk a few more blocks to an El station.

I did notice though that on the higher zoom levels of the google maps, that they now show all the bus stops. Being able to map a trip with the transfers worked out is great.

I'm glad Google and the CTA are talking to each other, but "head-in-their-ass" Metra and PACE still aren't so regionally it's not as useful as it could be.

The RTA TripPlanner works pretty well, and has been around quite a while.

But, personally, I still prefer HopStop. If you put in the address for Wrigley Field and the address for Yankee Stadium, it tells you that in 16 hours and 9 minutes subways and Amtrak can carry you between the two - I don't know how useful that is, but it's damn cool anyway. :-)

Mr Downtown Apr 9, 2008 8:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by aaron38 (Post 3470545)
Half the reason I never take the bus in the city is that the routes are so cryptic and tangled

I'm curious what you find hard to understand about Chicago buses. Setting aside the lakefront express buses, nearly all of them just run back and forth on the street for which they're named. Compared to most cities, with complex radial routes that wander through outlying neighborhoods, Chicago's bus network seems extremely easy to understand. In fact, it might be the simplest bus network (with more than five routes) in the world.

jpIllInoIs Apr 9, 2008 9:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3470713)
This project is a textbook example of the silliness of having (state-created) agency-planning as opposed to regional planning, with Metra also working on a New Start for the "Southeast Service". Clearly, both SES and the Lowell NICTD branch aren't both justified; it's one or the other. But both studies are advancing in a vacuum assuming that the other doesn't exist.

Personally, I'd rather see the SES killed and both NICTD projects move forward, since the SES would cannibalize the grade-seperated electric treasure that is the ME.

I was thinking the same thing. The service areas are tight and definitely overlap.

I would rather see Metra put their resources to the Wadworth Line- which would paralell I-94 and have stops at Rondout, Western Waukegan, Gurnee, and Wadsworth. It would serve Abbott Labs, Baxter, Cardinal Health, Hospira, U-Line, Great Lakes Naval Base, Gurnee Mills, Great America, Key Lime Cove and the new Lakehurst devolpment which is to be TOD and retail. This would serve as an excellent reverse commute route to the Lake County Employment Corridor and would serve some huge tourist destinations. Gurnee Mills is the 2nd most popular tourist destination in the State and that was before this months opening of Key Lime Cove. :yes:

VivaLFuego Apr 9, 2008 9:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 3473731)
I'm curious what you find hard to understand about Chicago buses. Setting aside the lakefront express buses, nearly all of them just run back and forth on the street for which they're named. Compared to most cities, with complex radial routes that wander through outlying neighborhoods, Chicago's bus network seems extremely easy to understand. In fact, it might be the simplest bus network (with more than five routes) in the world.

Agreed, and it's simplicity (namely, you basically always know you can get from any point, to nearly any point in the city, with a total of 2 bus trips/1 transfer) is one of the reasons it's such a highly utilized system. It's not far behind Los Angeles for total bus ridership, though with Chicago's smaller population and much higher fares it means our utilization is significantly better. If only CTA got the same proportional operational subsidy as LACMTA (80% vs. 48%) ....

VivaLFuego Apr 9, 2008 10:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jpIllInoIs (Post 3473799)
I would rather see Metra put their resources to the Wadworth Line- which would paralell I-94 and have stops at Rondout, Western Waukegan, Gurnee, and Wadsworth. It would serve Abbott Labs, Baxter, Cardinal Health, Hospira, U-Line, Great Lakes Naval Base, Gurnee Mills, Great America, Key Lime Cove and the new Lakehurst devolpment which is to be TOD and retail. This would serve as an excellent reverse commute route to the Lake County Employment Corridor and would serve some huge tourist destinations. Gurnee Mills is the 2nd most popular tourist destination in the State and that was before this months opening of Key Lime Cove. :yes:

This would be a great project, and I understand that some Lake County politicians are starting to promote it. Lake County has severe transportation capacity issues since the IL-53 expansion never got built, but the northern/western portions of the county continue to develop almost as though it had...here's hoping it starts getting put into the state/regional TIPs and enters the New Starts process, or maybe Metra could bond out its $100 million/year operating surplus to pay for a substantial portion of construction, along with a local temporary sales tax. Seeing as Amtrak already uses these tracks and operates on them at 90mph, I don't imagine this being a particularly expensive project...mostly station facilities, signalling, probably some sidings/special trackwork to help reduce freight conflicts, and some additional railcars. But in terms of ROW acquisition etc, this is almost a slam dunk, and as you allude to it would have to be one of the top riders-per-mile and rides-per-dollar commuter rail projects in the entire country.

jpIllInoIs Apr 10, 2008 4:14 AM

^ Yep, Amtrak does already run on these tracks. And if Amtrak added a stop at the Lakehurst/Waukegan or Gurnee station they would create an intermodal powerhouse. Intercity trains-Regional trains-Pace buses and dedicated shuttle busses. Milwaukee and Chicago Travellers would be able to reach all of the tourist destinations at Grand/I-94 as well as Great Lakes Naval Base. Commuters would have mass transit options to dozens of Corporate world HQ's. and for a very small investment compared to starting up a brand new line (SES)

the urban politician Apr 10, 2008 1:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3473922)
This would be a great project, and I understand that some Lake County politicians are starting to promote it. Lake County has severe transportation capacity issues since the IL-53 expansion never got built, but the northern/western portions of the county continue to develop almost as though it had...here's hoping it starts getting put into the state/regional TIPs and enters the New Starts process, or maybe Metra could bond out its $100 million/year operating surplus to pay for a substantial portion of construction, along with a local temporary sales tax. Seeing as Amtrak already uses these tracks and operates on them at 90mph, I don't imagine this being a particularly expensive project...mostly station facilities, signalling, probably some sidings/special trackwork to help reduce freight conflicts, and some additional railcars. But in terms of ROW acquisition etc, this is almost a slam dunk, and as you allude to it would have to be one of the top riders-per-mile and rides-per-dollar commuter rail projects in the entire country.

^ Are these attractions/jobs at all near the railroad line? In other words, would one be able to walk to any of them if they got off at these stops?

Taft Apr 10, 2008 4:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 3475259)
^ Are these attractions/jobs at all near the railroad line? In other words, would one be able to walk to any of them if they got off at these stops?

Unless I'm missing something on this map, I don't think so:

http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=4...,0.079308&z=14

The various attractions along the line would probably have to run shuttles to and from the Metra.

Taft

VivaLFuego Apr 10, 2008 6:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 3475259)
^ Are these attractions/jobs at all near the railroad line? In other words, would one be able to walk to any of them if they got off at these stops?

Abbott Labs AND Baxter's McGaw Park campus both directly abut the railroad, so it would indeed serve reverse commuters well (these are major regional employers). The Lakehurt Mall redevelopment site is also very near the railroad, but I'm not familiar with the redevelopment plans (last I heard was "Walmart Supercenter").

Great America, Gurnee Mills, and the big Water Park are all about a mile west of the line, so a shuttle would be required to serve these; but it's well set up for a looping shuttle services.

Major trip generators all around, certainly moreso than say, the North Central Line or Southeast Line. After the STAR line (I-90 portion) and Blue Line extension to Oakbrook/Yorktown, it's the next best proposal being talked about in terms of serving transit-deficient employment areas. It also has the advantage of being relatively cheap.

Abner Apr 11, 2008 3:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3475815)
After the STAR line (I-90 portion) and Blue Line extension to Oakbrook/Yorktown

Can you (or anyone else) say anything about the Blue Line extension idea? A lot of people in Oak Park are banking on that proposal to become reality to prevent a widening of the Eisenhower. As far as I'm concerned almost anything is preferable to interstate expansion, but I wonder how high ridership would be in that corridor and whether there would be issues with running a route that long.

VivaLFuego Apr 11, 2008 4:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Abner (Post 3477227)
Can you (or anyone else) say anything about the Blue Line extension idea? A lot of people in Oak Park are banking on that proposal to become reality to prevent a widening of the Eisenhower. As far as I'm concerned almost anything is preferable to interstate expansion, but I wonder how high ridership would be in that corridor and whether there would be issues with running a route that long.

It'll be an RTA project, and it's some ways away, but there seem to be alot of people pulling for it, particularly Oak Park, just about every planning agency, and a few DuPage groups.

That said, ALOT of people will be pulling for Ike-widening, including many DuPage interests, and some of those people, particularly in the construction/paving industry, have quite a bit of political clout. You better believe in these "tough economic times" there will be pressure for some major construction projects to "create jobs", and the standard way of doing that is roads and bridges, not rail lines. That, and many west suburbanites' constitutional right to unobstructed driving is being stamped on by the oppressive jackboot of the 6-lane Ike.

It will end up being an entirely political decision, like these things always are, and I suspect it will be pretty hard fought. It'll be intense because the condemnations would be happening in exactly the place (Oak Park) that seems to be solidly against such widening. So if the local reps are opposed, will the other interests still overide them? This is the type of thing where a strong and competent governor, with matching strong and competent house/senate leadership, would ensure a particular outcome. But given current Springfield politics, this might well be a major shitstorm.

Sometimes things break the right way (when the Crosstown money got spent on the O'hare extension and Orange Line, for example), and sometimes they don't (see I-10 in Houston, where they nixed a proposed commuter rail to add even more lanes in a widening project. 20 lanes wide: believe it.).

In terms of alignment and operations, I think it's a feasible project. Downtown to Oak Brook is about the same length as downtown to O'hare. The Congress Line is already very fast, making the trip to FP in about 25 minutes; now imagine the whole thing, all the way to Oak Brook, built to a 70mph standard, with half the trains terminating at Forest Park, half continuing to the terminal, and (key point) some sort of distance surcharge for trips that far west. This would be a two-way commute route, providing a fast reverse commute route for the unfortunate Chicagoans who have to survive the drive to Oak Brook every day, and there are a lot of them. It would also be additional parallel inbound-commute capacity to the jam-packed BNSF line and respectably-busy UP-W line; slightly longer travel time, given more stops, but also direct service into the heart of the Loop. It also would provide a laughably long direct connection between Oak Brook and O'hare Airport, but I wonder if many people would actually make that trip without a bathroom break. Obviously I haven't seen any ridership projections, but I think it could work quite well at least as far as Oak Brook (not sure about all the way out to Yorktown).

Rail Claimore Apr 11, 2008 9:16 PM

Oh the Ike will get widened to 4 lanes in the Avenues section. There's no way to do it otherwise when you consider the investment they made undoing the Hillside Strangler and pushing the jam further east. They had Ike-widening in mind when that project was planned.

That being said, if a blue line extension could be made a part of the deal (which I'm all for), both sides might get what they want, and everyone but Oak Park NIMBYs and BANANAs would be happy. But the only way to do both without taking in significant ROW would be to use the current blue-line ROW for expressway widening, then putting the blue-line in a subway or elevating it.

VivaLFuego Apr 11, 2008 10:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rail Claimore (Post 3478981)
But the only way to do both without taking in significant ROW would be to use the current blue-line ROW for expressway widening, then putting the blue-line in a subway or elevating it.

Yeah. I wonder what the feasibility/cost of this would be. Would clearly be the desired outcome from Oak Park's standpoint, but I'm having trouble contemplating a staging sequence. Ideally (cost-wise) you could cut-and-cover the "subway" and build the roadway on top of it, but that would even further reduce capacity for several years during construction. The line won't be so highly utilized as to justify deep-boring tunnels. At-grade with crossings is out of the question. I suppose you would add an incline/portal to subway at Central, bore your way to Des Plaines avenue, and hope the pols come up with enough pork barrel money to pay for it. Then you can widen the expressway and rebuild all bridges and ramps after the old Blue Line is removed.

Around the avenues, I suspect the Ike could be widened just by eating up the grass embankment and adding retaining walls (rebuilding all the ramps too, of course).

But for some reason, I have a bad feeling the end result will just be a widened Ike with piddly transit improvements (e.g. some Pace quasi-BRT around Oak Brook).

Rail Claimore Apr 11, 2008 11:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3479106)
Yeah. I wonder what the feasibility/cost of this would be. Would clearly be the desired outcome from Oak Park's standpoint, but I'm having trouble contemplating a staging sequence. Ideally (cost-wise) you could cut-and-cover the "subway" and build the roadway on top of it, but that would even further reduce capacity for several years during construction. The line won't be so highly utilized as to justify deep-boring tunnels. At-grade with crossings is out of the question. I suppose you would add an incline/portal to subway at Central, bore your way to Des Plaines avenue, and hope the pols come up with enough pork barrel money to pay for it. Then you can widen the expressway and rebuild all bridges and ramps after the old Blue Line is removed.

Around the avenues, I suspect the Ike could be widened just by eating up the grass embankment and adding retaining walls (rebuilding all the ramps too, of course).

But for some reason, I have a bad feeling the end result will just be a widened Ike with piddly transit improvements (e.g. some Pace quasi-BRT around Oak Brook).

From Austin to Forest Park isn't the tightest squeeze for that section anyway, but it's the section that voices the most opposition. From what I could see, the rail ROW there is still 4-tracks wide, so you could probably add an additional lane in that section with just some good engineering work. West of First-Avenue is the bigger problem. Even with 3-lanes each direction, the left shoulders are far from adequate. There would most likely be a rail or BRT extension involved with any type of capacity increase project on that section, simply because you'd have to take large parcels of land anyway. One row of houses on one side of the expressway would be enough for the additional lanes and tracks, so there'd be little reason not to extend transit services beyond Forest Park.

The question is one of balance. Widening to 4 lanes each way through Oak Park would reduce a good bit of the congestion associated with merging, meaning reduced emissions from vehicles for residents in the area. I don't see much induced demand in the equation considering it already goes through and connects areas that have long been developed.

I'd personally love to see the ramps for either Austin or Harlem Avenues removed completely, but residents probably want their access. Those interchanges handle an insane amount of traffic given their capacity. The part through Oak Park could also be capped pretty easily given the embankments. I suspect we'll see that thrown in to sweeten the deal for Oak Park and to silence the nimbys, meaning this is going to be an incredibly costly project.


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