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the urban politician Mar 30, 2012 7:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 5647401)
How on earth will taxpayers be on the hook for O'Hare expansion? Aren't those strictly revenue bonds rather than G.O. bonds?

Hasn't a good amount of federal money already been allocated towards the project?

the urban politician Mar 30, 2012 7:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280 (Post 5647371)
^^^ Well I think increasing the dominance of United Airlines is a critical goal for the City of Chicago, especially now that they gobbled up Continental. If United does well, then the City will benefit from increased employment, increased tax revenue, increased route options, increased reputation, etc... Helping United become the biggest global airline by crowding out the competition should be a priority for Chicago.

^ I'm not sure that increasing the dominance of any particular Chicago-based company is really what it's cracked out to be.

The reality is, Chicago would benefit more from an entire industry cluster centering themselves here, rather than one or two goliaths who at any time can be swallowed up in a merger or threaten to relocate elsewhere.

What Chicago needs is what the Bay Area and New York have. The Bay Area is the center of web-based companies while New York is the center of about a half a dozen industries. With "industry clusters" you have dozens, even hundreds of highly successful companies who would not think twice about moving anywhere else. And even if they did, it doesn't matter because you have plenty of other companies in place to easily make up for the loss.

So yes, while a strong United is good for Chicago, I think allowing more competition at O'Hare and opening the door to other companies would benefit Chicago much more in the long run.

ardecila Mar 30, 2012 7:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 5647302)
^ You are definitely one of the 2 or 3 top transportation experts on this forum, and I'm sure I'm not the only one here who appreciates your input. But I'm just wondering, isn't it the whole purpose of the CREATE project to benefit Chicago's freight rail system? Untying freight bottlenecks is the primary purpose of this investment, while benefitting passenger rail is seen as a secondary goal; is that not correct?

Btw, using public dollars to benefit private companies is certainly not just happening in one part of Chicagoland. We all know that the O'Hare expansion will ultimately be rigged to benefit United and American Airlines, even though funding for the project will be mostly on the taxpayer's dime.

As I mentioned, a different use of the dollars would shift all Amtrak trains into CN's Lakefront Line, which would permanently get Amtrak out of NS' hair. I'm not saying they shouldn't benefit, but that the public and it's passenger rail system should also be improved.

In the article posted above, NS is already spending $285M to buy up North Englewood for a yard expansion. I don't like the displacements, and NS is low balling the homeowners, but at least they're doing it on the open market without eminent domain.

Mr Downtown Mar 30, 2012 9:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280 (Post 5647474)
I've heard this pseudo cabal of railways, business interests, and politicians mentioned in several places and I can't believe you are denying that it didn't have a major role in making Chicago not just a big station on the railways, but the the "nations freight handler"...

Then let's see some sort of source that I could use to edumacate myself. Talk about "making shit up!"

The Galena road was built to bring produce and lead to the port at Chicago, not to an interchange with the Michigan Southern. It was the later Alton road that would be in direct competition with the I&M Canal.

I carefully chose the words "thought possible" for the transcontinental railroad. Obviously there had been idle cracker-barrel talk by 1848, but there were only four states west of the Mississippi. Even generalized surveys didn't begin until 1853, and Theodore Judah didn't find a way up the Western Slope of the Sierra until 1860.

Quote:

Why didn't lines get built between St Louis and Indianapolis or Ohio?
They were, but the Mississippi is much harder to bridge at St. Louis than at Rock Island. Here are the major lines as of 1860:

http://www.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/le...113map-rrh.gif

k1052 Mar 30, 2012 9:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5647783)
As I mentioned, a different use of the dollars would shift all Amtrak trains into CN's Lakefront Line, which would permanently get Amtrak out of NS' hair. I'm not saying they shouldn't benefit, but that the public and it's passenger rail system should also be improved.

I generally agree with this however a pretty substantial engineering solution ($$$) will be needed to re-direct Union Station traffic over the yards and approach tracks and onto the Air Line without doing the whole cumbersome switch/reverse routine west of the station.

Mr Downtown Mar 30, 2012 9:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 5647747)
Hasn't a good amount of federal money already been allocated towards the project?

$410 million, I think, but it's from airline passenger taxes, not general taxation.

Nowhereman1280 Mar 30, 2012 10:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 5647929)
Then let's see some sort of source that I could use to edumacate myself. Talk about "making shit up!"

Your snark is amusing considering the corner you are backing yourself into.

Quote:

The Galena road was built to bring produce and lead to the port at Chicago, not to an interchange with the Michigan Southern. It was the later Alton road that would be in direct competition with the I&M Canal.
When did I say it was taking lead to an interchange with the canal? Why would they bring lead to the canal when I said THEY BUILT THE RAILROAD TO COMPETE DIRECTLY WITH THE CANAL? You said:

"But railroads were initially ways to link busy waterways overland to distant ports, or to bring commodities from agricultural and mining hinterlands to ports."

And I very specfically demonstrated that the exact opposite was true: the first railroads in Chicago were built to nullify the need for ports and bring goods/passengers directly to the cities, which is the OPPOSITE of "interchanging with the canal" as you accused me of saying.

FINALLY the terminus of the Galena & Chicago Union was NOT the port of Chicago, it was near the river at the Wells Street Station. Now I'm not "expert" like you, but I'm pretty sure they weren't exactly loading up the freighters to ship out lead at Wells Street Station... :rolleyes: Pretty sure they were shipping that right to the factories in Chicago.

Quote:

I carefully chose the words "thought possible" for the transcontinental railroad. Obviously there had been idle cracker-barrel talk by 1848, but there were only four states west of the Mississippi. Even generalized surveys didn't begin until 1853, and Theodore Judah didn't find a way up the Western Slope of the Sierra until 1860.
No you are "carefully choosing" to try to argue semantics to deflect criticism from the utter stupidity of what you said. People definitely thought a transcontinental railroad was possible at the same time that Chicago started building railways. Hell, just read the fucking wikipedia article, it says that people were dreaming of it as early as 1830 with the invention of the steam engine and that Asa Whitney was already doing surveys to develop his plan to create a transcontinental railway in 1845 (even though Whitney would not be sucessful, it indicates that you are categorically incorrect because, at a very minimum, at least one person believed it was possible enough spend tons of money surveying a route).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_T...ilroad#History

You are wrong, it's OK, you can admit it. No amount of semantic quivering is going to cover that up. In fact, 1850 was probably when people started realizing such a railroad was an inevitability as California was a state at that point.

Furthermore, the G&C Union was just arriving in ELGIN in 1850... So 1848 was the EARLIEST possible date you could use for this argument, but the railroads didn't start booming in Chicago until the 1850's at which point a transcontiental railroad was an inevitability and, duh duh duh, Chicago's civic leaders, business leaders, and railroad owners, hatched a plan to control the railways of the nation because, despite the blather you are spreading, they were just starting to build railways and, again despite the nonsense you claim, they knew they were the middle of the nation and had a unique chance to make a power grab.


Quote:

They were, but the Mississippi is much harder to bridge at St. Louis than at Rock Island. Here are the major lines as of 1860:
Of course lines were eventually built, they just didn't get much traffic because they weren't built until after Chicago had already dominated the region's layout and built all the railyards, etc that it needed to force everyone to send their trains through Chicago. This is exactly what I am talking about. They saw an opportunity (basically a 10 year window) during which the realized they could control access to the entire interior of the country, and they jumped on it making all competing cities irrelevant.

ardecila Mar 31, 2012 4:32 AM

Your confusion is understandable... even people of the time didn't quite understand what the railroad was for.

Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Spring 1980

Quote:

Ironically, few individuals of the time understood the Galena and Chicago Union in its true perspective. Most saw it as an extension of a trunk line from the East Coast. The western promoters attempted to attract attention and financial aid with that argument, and it was only when [investors] refused to finance the project that the local entrepreneurs began "selling" the Galena and Chicago Union as a feeder line for Chicago and northern Illinois markets.
Quote:

Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280 (Post 5648011)
FINALLY the terminus of the Galena & Chicago Union was NOT the port of Chicago, it was near the river at the Wells Street Station. Now I'm not "expert" like you, but I'm pretty sure they weren't exactly loading up the freighters to ship out lead at Wells Street Station... :rolleyes: Pretty sure they were shipping that right to the factories in Chicago.

The river was heavily industrialized, and Great Lakes vessels frequently entered the river to reach docks and warehouses further inland. The "port of Chicago" was not just at the river mouth but far, far inland. Certainly it was not at Lake Calumet, which would not become a port for another 50 years, or at Navy Pier, which would not exist for another 60.

In fact, I've heard speculation that the initial end of the line (on the west bank, actually - the bridge came later) was chosen specifically because it was easy to bring in lake-going boats with wood ties from the forests in Michigan and Wisconsin.

Quote:

In fact, 1850 was probably when people started realizing such a railroad was an inevitability as California was a state at that point.
The transcontinental railroad was a serious possibility in 1854, when it was a huge point of contention for the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Stephen Douglas fought bitterly and won support for a Chicago-based line from Southern politicians in exchange for allowing slavery to expand into, well, the new states of Kansas and Nebraska.

As I understand it, the railroad would be financed by government-issued land grants the railroad company could sell to settlers, but settlers would not move en masse into a given territory until it achieved statehood. Therefore, statehood (and the issue of slavery) was intimately tied with the construction of a railroad.

Douglas didn't live to see it, but the final transcontinental railroad did indeed tie directly into Chicago via the Mississippi and Missouri Railroad and the Rock Island.

ardecila Mar 31, 2012 5:22 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by k1052 (Post 5647943)
I generally agree with this however a pretty substantial engineering solution ($$$) will be needed to re-direct Union Station traffic over the yards and approach tracks and onto the Air Line without doing the whole cumbersome switch/reverse routine west of the station.

Such a project would have several pieces.

-a curved flyover/river bridge from the St. Charles Air Line down to Union Station
-a replacement of four crumbling South Loop overpasses on the St. Charles Air Line, with new straight bridge at Clark
-a connection in the northeast quadrant at Grand Crossing (this can be built on fill, so technically not a flyover)

plus some track replacement. If the city wants to chip in for some noise mitigation in the South Loop, that's great.

Mr Downtown Mar 31, 2012 4:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280 (Post 5648011)
I very specfically demonstrated that the exact opposite was true: the first railroads in Chicago were built to nullify the need for ports and bring goods/passengers directly to the cities, which is the OPPOSITE of "interchanging with the canal" as you accused me of saying.

I see there's a bit of a reading comprehension problem. The Michigan Southern was a railroad, not a canal.

Sometimes it’s helpful to read a little history before you try writing about history. In this case, I recommend the little booklet 1848: Turning Point for Chicago; Turning Point for the Region, written in 1998 by Michael Conzen for an exhibit at the Newberry Library. Good near-primary sources are Yesterday and To-day: A History of the Chicago & North Western Railway System, and of course Andreas’s 1884 History of Chicago.

The Galena road (which itself never got to Galena) brought agricultural products to the tip of Lake Michigan, where they could be put on boats for shipment to Eastern and European markets. Although the passenger station was (eventually) built at Wells & Kinzie, the freight sidings came to grain elevators on Wolf Point, and to various warehouses and slips along the north bank of the river all the way out to Ogden Slip, built just for the purpose of moving freight from railroad to boat. The Illinois Central had similar facilities that dominated the south bank of the river. Chicago factories of 1848 were few and far between, mostly based on milling the wood coming by boat from Michigan and Wisconsin, not the produce coming from Downstate. Serious industry came later, for the most part, seeing the granger roads converging on Chicago as good ways to get things like farm implements out to the farm belt.

http://i44.tinypic.com/kyo2f.jpg

Palmatary's view of Chicago, 1857

You seem particularly confused about the canal competition. The Illinois & Michigan Canal ran to the southwest, toward Peoria and Alton. The Galena & Chicago Union ran to the west. The railroad that competed with the I&M Canal was the Chicago & Alton, and the Rock Island to a lesser extent. The Hennepin Canal didn’t open until 1907, by which time it was utterly irrelevant.

Just because people were dreaming of a transcontinental railroad in the 1840s doesn’t mean they had any idea where it would go. Had a southern route via St. Louis or Memphis been chosen, Chicago would have been irrelevant to transcontinental traffic.

Chicago’s railroad primacy is due almost entirely to geographic factors: being at the southernmost tip of the Great Lakes system; the rich yield of farmland in Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin compared to Missouri and Arkansas; the choice of Omaha as the eastern end of the transcontinental railroad. Another geographic reason is a bit more subtle, as William Cronon writes in Nature’s Metropolis (p. 90):

A deeper reason for the city’s success was its location on the watershed between two quite different systems of corporate competition. East of the city, the railroads were known as “trunk” lines: low-cost, high-volume competitive routes following a tight corridor across the nine hundred miles to New York. West of the city, the visual metaphor of the railroad map changed from trunk to fan, with lines diverging like rays from a central point to spread hundreds of miles north and south....The intersection of trunk and fan was the essential geographical fact of Chicago’s location.... A Chicago railroad analyst put it even more succinctly: “western roads,” he declared, “were built from and eastern ones to Chicago.”


Anyone who knows the Machiavellian history of 19th century railroad titans would snicker at the idea of them conspiring with Chicago’s leaders to ensure the city’s prosperity at the expense of St. Louis, Cairo, or Memphis. So where—other than in your mind—is any sort of evidence of this “pseudo cabal of railways, business interests, and politicians” and their “plan of intentionally forcing all freight to be sorted in Chicago?”

Standpoor Mar 31, 2012 5:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5648503)
Such a project would have several pieces.

-a curved flyover/river bridge from the St. Charles Air Line down to Union Station
-a replacement of four crumbling South Loop overpasses on the St. Charles Air Line, with new straight bridge at Clark
-a connection in the northeast quadrant at Grand Crossing (this can be built on fill, so technically not a flyover)

plus some track replacement. If the city wants to chip in for some noise mitigation in the South Loop, that's great.

Two problems I see. The bridge down to Union Station would have to have a pretty steep grade to get low enough to go under Roosevelt. Second, this would also leave a pretty significant bottleneck where Metra tracks into LaSalle cross the SCAL. With increased passenger service on both lines further delays could be possible.

Beta_Magellan Mar 31, 2012 8:22 PM

In the Siemens-MHSRA study (pdf) suggested something like ardecila’s solution, but that assumed high-speed electric trains with better grade-climbing ability than your average diesel-powered Amtrak dinosaur. However, Siemens/MHSRA also assumed that HSR would run <i>above</i> existing SCAL and ‘L’ rather than simply taking the air line over—although the report mentions existing Amtrak and freight traffic, assuming that goes away any HSR line might still need to be elevated to eliminate conflict with the RI Line. If it’s just regular Amtrak trains running through at regular Amtrak frequencies you can probably get by with decent signaling.

ardecila Apr 1, 2012 3:58 AM

Yeah, the junction with the Rock Island would need to be carefully coordinated. However, there are numerous examples of flat junctions in the Chicago area that work very well with even higher volumes than this one would have. Most notable is A-2 on the West Side where the UP-West Line crosses three other Metra lines and Amtrak. There's also Mayfair Junction where the UP-NW crosses the MD-North. It's not an insurmountable barrier, and it doesn't change the fact that commuter and intercity trains are far more compatible with each other than either is with the average American freight train.

Geometrically, I'm sure there's a way to integrate the flyover. As far as I can tell from Google Earth elevations, there's a drop of about 11' between the deck of the St. Charles Air Line bridge and the yard tracks at Roosevelt. Assuming 600' radius for a curve, that leaves another 1600' to descend the 11', which is less than a 1% grade. If a new river bridge is built south of the existing ones, that could increase the length to nearly 2100'.

There is a similar setup in Frankfurt. That, by the way, was the coolest train-into-city approach.

Standpoor Apr 1, 2012 4:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5649471)
Yeah, the junction with the Rock Island would need to be carefully coordinated. However, there are numerous examples of flat junctions in the Chicago area that work very well with even higher volumes than this one would have. Most notable is A-2 on the West Side where the UP-West Line crosses three other Metra lines and Amtrak. There's also Mayfair Junction where the UP-NW crosses the MD-North. It's not an insurmountable barrier, and it doesn't change the fact that commuter and intercity trains are far more compatible with each other than either is with the average American freight train.

Geometrically, I'm sure there's a way to integrate the flyover. As far as I can tell from Google Earth elevations, there's a drop of about 11' between the deck of the St. Charles Air Line bridge and the yard tracks at Roosevelt. Assuming 600' radius for a curve, that leaves another 1600' to descend the 11', which is less than a 1% grade. If a new river bridge is built south of the existing ones, that could increase the length to nearly 2100'.

There is a similar setup in Frankfurt. That, by the way, was the coolest train-into-city approach.

Hmmm, 11'. That is pretty low. I was convinced it was more of a drop. Well that certainly makes it easier. How much of the yard do you think would become inoperable because of the new curve, if any.

It seems silly to build a new approach and call it high speed or whatever and then have it intersect with the Metra tracks. Especially when the busiest times for both tracks will be around rush but there may be no other way around it. Messing around with elevation on the East side of the river is difficult because of all the roads and rails. A grade separated, passenger train only approach into Chicago would be an amazing improvement for short corridor intercity passenger trains. It would make my life so much easier.

ardecila Apr 1, 2012 7:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Standpoor (Post 5649801)
Hmmm, 11'. That is pretty low. I was convinced it was more of a drop. Well that certainly makes it easier. How much of the yard do you think would become inoperable because of the new curve, if any.

It seems silly to build a new approach and call it high speed or whatever and then have it intersect with the Metra tracks. Especially when the busiest times for both tracks will be around rush but there may be no other way around it. Messing around with elevation on the East side of the river is difficult because of all the roads and rails. A grade separated, passenger train only approach into Chicago would be an amazing improvement for short corridor intercity passenger trains. It would make my life so much easier.

11' is ballpark... Google's data is notoriously iffy for urban areas. Still, it wouldn't surprise me if the yard slopes gradually upwards between 18th and Roosevelt.

Grade separating this junction would be difficult. The only feasible way is to raise the Rock Island up on a flyover (if it can clear the Orange Line viaduct at 18th). You can't push anything underground because of the Red Line tunnel. Again, it's definitely preferable to an NS alignment where Amtrak trains must cross the path of freights 3 or 4 times before getting to Union Station. The Southwest Service is being shifted for exactly this reason.

BTW, the 16th St crossing apparently used to be an insane tangle of tracks in the pre-Dearborn Park days. Most of this was ripped out and simplified when they built the Red Line tunnel.
http://img26.imageshack.us/img26/3459/16thst.jpg

orulz Apr 2, 2012 3:27 PM

I for one think the St. Charles Air Line should be used as the southward extension of the Clinton subway or else some other CTA rail project. I'm glad that the CREATE Grand Crossing project puts Amtrak and HSR on the NS line, since that leaves the SCAL open for such conversion.

Heavy rail trains can climb steeper grades, so climbing over the RI line and then descending back down to the level of the SCAL bridge should be a complete non-issue.

Put a transfer station for Red Line and Rock Island metra lines near 16th & Clark. Put another transfer station for Green and Orange at 16th & Wabash (This would be instead of the Green Line station at 18th that has been bandied about.) This transfer station would involve substantial reconstruction of the el in the south loop in order to fit in all the turnouts plus a platform and still be able to reach the ramp down to the State Street subway, but it MIGHT be possible. Something like this.

Mr Downtown Apr 2, 2012 6:59 PM

I think it would make more sense for a southern extension of the Clinton subway to cross under the river and serve the future development of Riverside Park directly, rather than using the SCAL, where it's further from the heart of development and has other geometric problems:

http://i43.tinypic.com/21ou6n9.jpg

Beta_Magellan Apr 2, 2012 8:33 PM

Mr. Downtown, your 16th Street station and new Orange line routing is things of beauty.

I’ve long liked the idea of a Purple Line express that through-runs with the Orange Line via the State Street subway (Orange and Purple have similar peak-period frequencies, and the RPM project has proposed lengthening the Evanston and Wilmette stations to accommodate eight-car trains). Something like this is the only way something like it could happen without merge conflicts on the El.

emathias Apr 2, 2012 10:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 5651172)
I think it would make more sense for a southern extension of the Clinton subway to cross under the river and serve the future development of Riverside Park directly, rather than using the SCAL, where it's further from the heart of development and has other geometric problems:

http://i43.tinypic.com/21ou6n9.jpg

I like it because it's also perfectly situated should the CTA and/or City decided to push the Douglas Park branch east along 16th Street viaducts to the lakefront (not currently on the table, but I could see a day when it could be a desirable thing).

Mr Downtown Apr 2, 2012 11:03 PM

I would actually link Midway to Kimball via the State Street Subway. Cross-platform transfers at 16th and at Fullerton let you easily choose East Loop via State or West Loop via Clinton. (For you real transit geeks, the 16th Station would have both northbound tubes on the same level like Montreal's Lionel-Groulx station does).


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