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ardecila Jul 29, 2011 5:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ndrwmls10 (Post 5362353)
I was thinking about something like the streetcar map. Much less, more of a circulator and connector to each neighborhood. I know that it would never happen, but would it be a good idea and would it spur economic development?

A couple of years ago, planners envisioned something similar for Ogden Avenue. Of course, it would basically just duplicate existing service on the Pink Line.

Grand might make more sense as a light-rail line, because it fills in a gap in the rapid-transit network. Unfortunately, it's mainly an industrial corridor, so it's not very dense (the 65 is not particularly well-used).

emathias Jul 29, 2011 2:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 5362281)

I'm intrigued by Point of Interest number 39 on that map. Anyone know anything about that?

emathias Jul 29, 2011 2:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5362697)
A couple of years ago, planners envisioned something similar for Ogden Avenue. Of course, it would basically just duplicate existing service on the Pink Line.

Grand might make more sense as a light-rail line, because it fills in a gap in the rapid-transit network. Unfortunately, it's mainly an industrial corridor, so it's not very dense (the 65 is not particularly well-used).

Grand is less than 1/2 mile from Lake Street and Chicago Ave at all points. I think Chicago Ave would make an excellent streetcar route (or BRT). It's a very wide street for much of its length exactly because it used to be a big streetcar route.

The only points where it would have a significant difficulty are crossing the River, where that bridge is too narrow already. That bridge needs to be redone anyway. I would think that the best solution there would be to get the two buildings next to it to make their level adjacent to the sidewalk into an arcade and build the bridge so that it's as wide as the street before and after the bridge. It would make it interesting for pedestrians and improve traffic flow and/or allow a dedicated streetcar/brt lane.

The second point is after Lasalle, and especially after Dearborn, where it narrows significantly and gets all the traffic of the Michigan Ave area. This would be ideal for a cut-and-cover "streetcar subway" that extended from maybe Lasalle turning under Fairbanks until Ohio then returning to the surface for the widened Congress. You could run them on the existing lower Columbus to Monroe and keep them running to the Museum Campus during museum hours or for Soldier Field events. A cut-and-cover subway from Lasalle/Chicago to Fairbanks/Ohio would cost a lot, and be disruptive, and a new bridge at Chicago/theRiver would cost a lot, but otherwise it wouldn't be an expensive way to tie together tourist areas, provide better service to the Ukranian Village area, and eliminate some of the congestion at Michigan/Chicago presently caused by 66/Chicago buses. You could even extend it all the way to McCormick. Running on Columbus, with signal control and a little bit of dedicated ROW, you could keep trip times between the Michigan Ave hotel district and McCormick Place pretty low.

VivaLFuego Jul 29, 2011 2:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 5362924)
I'm intrigued by Point of Interest number 39 on that map. Anyone know anything about that?

It was another name for Maxwell St. Later commonly referred to as Jew Street (in high school in the 90s on the south side, classmates of mine still referred to it as Jew Street; the name lasted basically until UIC bulldozed everything to build a Jamba Juice). By 1937 I think the demographic shift to African-American was already well underway, but also remember, "ghetto" took on a much different connotation after World War II, particularly in reference to a concentration of Jews. In 1937 most wouldn't bat an eyelash at a quasi-official designation as such.

emathias Jul 29, 2011 3:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 5362281)

Another cool thing about this map are the dotted-line islands that were planned off the coast of Edgewater.

sammyg Jul 29, 2011 3:41 PM

I would be ecstatic if they restored service down Elston or Clybourn.

emathias Jul 29, 2011 10:33 PM

I ran a few back-of-an-envelope numbers for streetcars in Chicago.

A system that run only along the historic boulevards would be about 18 miles long. Let's call it 20 miles.

Portland spent about $12.9 million per track mile, so about $25.8 per route mile (not exactly, since in a few places they're single-tracked, but about). So for Chicago and inflationary purposes and being fairly conservative we could say that surface trolly lines could be built for $35 million a mile. A 20-mile stretch then is $700 million. If Chicago managed to do it for the same price as Portland and kept it to 18 miles, it could be as cheap as $465 million. Portland's pricing includes trams to support 15-minute headways, so Chicago would probably need a bit more so probably somewhere between $500 and $750 million to do it right. The service area for this would be approximately 27 square miles, or about 12% of the land area of the City. The property tax revenues collected in the City proper were around $3.9 billion in 2008. Of that, around $800 million go to the City government. 12% of $3.9 billion is around $468 million, and about $115 million of that would be the City's take. To fund 30-year bonds for a $700 million trolley system would take about $45 million per year (at 5% interest). So, if we were to want to fund that entirely through induced development and real estate valuation improvement, the development and valuation in that 12% of the city would need to increase by about 40% more than the across the board city average does within about 10 year of construction. That makes a lot of assumptions, but that's about what it would take. So we're basically talking about doubling the land value for a big chunk of that area, to make up for places where it doesn't increase by that much.

Is that possible? It's not impossible. But to do that, you'd probably need about 25,000 new housing units, some amount of new industrial and some amount of new commercial development to happen in those corridors. That's hard to do when most of those areas have actually been losing population for quite a while.

It'd be cool to make a real effort toward it, though. Who knows, it might just be possible.

ardecila Jul 30, 2011 12:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sammyg (Post 5363037)
I would be ecstatic if they restored service down Elston or Clybourn.

I can envision a bus route going from Elston at Forest Glen to Belmont, then cutting over to Clybourn. It would continue down Larrabee and Kingsbury, cross the river at Kinzie, then proceed to Union Station.

Unfortunately, it's a little too circuitous to be useful.

Maybe just an Elston-Clybourn bus, crossing the river at Diversey? I don't know where a logical southern terminus is... there's really nothing of interest at Division/Clybourn.

emathias Jul 30, 2011 4:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5363632)
I can envision a bus route going from Elston at Forest Glen to Belmont, then cutting over to Clybourn. It would continue down Larrabee and Kingsbury, cross the river at Kinzie, then proceed to Union Station.

Unfortunately, it's a little too circuitous to be useful.

Maybe just an Elston-Clybourn bus, crossing the river at Diversey? I don't know where a logical southern terminus is... there's really nothing of interest at Division/Clybourn.

Take it across Division to Clark and down to Illinois and over to Navy Pier. Or into the Loop, turning around on Washington to take Dearborn back.

Speaking of bus routes, I can't be the only one who would like to see the 22/Clark extended south to Roosevelt, turning around by Roosevelt/Desplaines, and the 24/Wentworth extended to turn around in front of the Newberry Library. Each of those would add a mile or less to their routes, but would really enhance their usefulness.

orulz Jul 30, 2011 8:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 5362950)
...I think Chicago Ave would make an excellent streetcar route (or BRT). It's a very wide street for much of its length exactly because it used to be a big streetcar route.

The only points where it would have a significant difficulty are crossing the River, where that bridge is too narrow already....The second point is after Lasalle, and especially after Dearborn, where it narrows significantly and gets all the traffic of the Michigan Ave area.

How about this - a way to address both of those issues and save a lot of money by leveraging other infrastructure that already exists or is planned. That is, connect a Chicago Ave streetcar / BRT line, to the Carroll Ave Transitway, using the right-of-way of the former C&NW yard that stretches from Chicago & Halsted to the bridge over the river just south of Kinzie. You gain a dedicated, fast right of way, and skip over all of those difficult spots you mention. This route would get closer to the loop but would lose its route through the gold coast and add a 2-block walk for any connection to the red line.

HowardL Jul 31, 2011 1:23 AM

I've always wondered why there is no better connection between the mid-north Lakefront and the O'Hare line. Irving would be ideal. Go much further north and you overshoot O'Hare. Much further south and it's just as easy to go south into the Loop then transfer to the O'Hare line back out.

I'm sure there is some reason, but I wonder every time I go to O'Hare and see all of the people on the Addison/Belmont/Irving bus going to the O'Hare L.

ardecila Jul 31, 2011 2:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by HowardL (Post 5364384)
I've always wondered why there is no better connection between the mid-north Lakefront and the O'Hare line. Irving would be ideal. Go much further north and you overshoot O'Hare. Much further south and it's just as easy to go south into the Loop then transfer to the O'Hare line back out.

I'm sure there is some reason, but I wonder every time I go to O'Hare and see all of the people on the Addison/Belmont/Irving bus going to the O'Hare L.

And we've discussed various solutions to that problem, including a Brown Line extension to Jefferson Park and the north segment of the Circle Line. Those are cool ideas but I still tthink the most feasible solution is a pair of DEDICATED bus lanes on Irving Park (it has the roadway width). It would link into existing stations on the Red, Brown, Blue, and UP-NW lines and serve reverse commute traffic as well as airport and Cubs traffic.

Anything more expensive or complex would require years of studies and coordinated political support, so its pretty much a pipe dream.

By contrast, a bus lane could be installed overnight out of the city's existing budget, Meigs Field-style.

emathias Aug 1, 2011 2:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by orulz (Post 5364246)
How about this - a way to address both of those issues and save a lot of money by leveraging other infrastructure that already exists or is planned. That is, connect a Chicago Ave streetcar / BRT line, to the Carroll Ave Transitway, using the right-of-way of the former C&NW yard that stretches from Chicago & Halsted to the bridge over the river just south of Kinzie. You gain a dedicated, fast right of way, and skip over all of those difficult spots you mention. This route would get closer to the loop but would lose its route through the gold coast and add a 2-block walk for any connection to the red line.

I don't like this because the point of a Chicago Ave line would be to tie the Ukrainian Village and west areas into the North Michigan Ave area, not to tie them directly to the Loop. There are already excellent services to the Loop. What doesn't exist is excellent service to North Michigan.

The route you propose would be easier, but it would not provide significant improvements over current service. I'd personally rather just not spend any money than spend it doing a half-ass sort of solution. Every time I ride the 66/Chicago bus, it's jam-packed, even as far as Western. Demand is there, and it would only increase if there were a regular streetcar with a streetcar subway under Michigan Ave. Navigating the Red Line would be hard but not impossible and I think the benefit of partially-grade-separated service linking west Chicago Ave, the Blue, Brown and Red lines to the Watertower area is a good one.

As with anything, the primary question is money.

orulz Aug 1, 2011 3:01 PM

Michigan City's South Shore Line alternatives analysis study is underway. To boil it down, the city's hope for this TIGER-funded study is essentially to identify a way to make the northern route work, without costing too much, so the destructive 11th street alternative does not have to be chosen.

These are the alternatives that have been identified so far. 3 or 3a seem to be the best to me: they have the fewest property impacts and involve no expensive bridge construction and no ugly and unnecessary elevated routes through downtown. The only question mark I can see here, is whether crossing over the Amtrak tracks at grade would be too disruptive. If not, then awesome. South Shore already crosses Amtrak at an at-grade diamond, after all.

But in order to have a grade separated crossing for Amtrak, but avoid elevated routes through the center of town and lots of property acquisition, how about this (call it 3B): relocate the Amtrak line in a way so that it can cross the South Shore line on a bridge west of town. There are power lines near there but maybe it could be done. Of course this is all just from looking at Google Maps.

ardecila Aug 1, 2011 8:23 PM

^^ I hate narrow-minded studies too, but that's how the game works.

Your idea sounds good. However, I don't understand the problem with street-running, so long as the segment is limited and well-designed.

My personal preference would be Option 3a, but with the alignment relocated to the center of Michigan Blvd between 6th and 11th Streets. This avoids costly and disruptive property acquisition. The trains could run in a landscaped median to remove the majority of traffic conflicts.

Assuming that street-running is utterly forbidden, though, Option 4 might be better... it will depend on what the costs are. It may end up being less expensive to build a new vertical-lift bridge and route the trains northeast of town (with a new overpass built on Hwy 12). That would remove most of the need for property takings.

orulz Aug 1, 2011 8:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5365746)
^^ I hate narrow-minded studies too, but that's how the game works.

Your idea sounds good. However, I don't understand the problem with street-running, so long as the segment is limited and well-designed.

Street running is not considered because
(1) It's slow
(2) It's expensive to maintain in comparison with dedicated right-of-way, particularly in somewhere as snowy as Michigan City
(3) The kicker, what actually got this project rolling when the South Shore and NICTD have been trying to accomplish this for decades: Federally mandated PTC, which cannot be implemented on a street running corridor.

ardecila Aug 2, 2011 5:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by orulz (Post 5365782)
Street running is not considered because
(1) It's slow
(2) It's expensive to maintain in comparison with dedicated right-of-way, particularly in somewhere as snowy as Michigan City
(3) The kicker, what actually got this project rolling when the South Shore and NICTD have been trying to accomplish this for decades: Federally mandated PTC, which cannot be implemented on a street running corridor.

I'm not talking about a street-running corridor per se, I'm talking about an alignment in a new median of the roadway, separated from traffic lanes by a curb. Grade crossings would be limited and gated. The ROW would not be fenced, but I suppose you could screen it with some slender vegetation or Daley-esque wrought iron.

The intersections along Michigan Blvd would be "closed"... converted to right-in right-out access to prevent traffic from crossing the median.

ardecila Aug 2, 2011 5:36 PM

Just a reminder about the Red Line meeting tonight.

Hope some people can make it!

I'm guessing they'll present the findings of the Draft EIS, which means they'll probably have some early design work completed on the alignment (or else they couldn't properly assess the impacts).

Quote:

Open house: August 2, 2011

You’re Invited to Join the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) at an Open House on The Red Line Extension:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011
6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
St. John Missionary Baptist Church
211 E. 115th St
Chicago, IL 60628

This location is accessible to people with disabilities and is served by CTA bus routes #34, #111 and #119, and Kensington Station on the Metra Electric District.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is proposing to extend the Red Line from the 95th Street Station to the vicinity of 130th Street, subject to the availability of funding. The proposed 5.3-mile extension would include three new intermediate stops near 103rd, 111th, and 115th streets, as well as a new terminal station in the vicinity of 130th Street. Each new stop would include bus and parking facilities. This project is one part of the Your Red Program to extend and enhance the entire Red Line.

CTA Gray Line Aug 2, 2011 6:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5366580)
Just a reminder about the Red Line meeting tonight.

Hope some people can make it!

I'm guessing they'll present the findings of the Draft EIS, which means they'll probably have some early design work completed on the alignment (or else they couldn't properly assess the impacts).


Please wear some kind of ID so we will know who you are (I will be).

oshkeoto Aug 3, 2011 7:08 AM

For what it's worth, I wrote up a brief reaction to the Red Line extension, and the CTA's other extension plans that have been put on hold here: http://wp.me/phx7y-1F

The upshot is that the Red Line extension is the only one of the three that really makes any sense, if the goal is a car-independent central city.


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