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orulz Jun 29, 2007 2:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DHamp (Post 2925417)
Has anybody seen a rendering or model of the U/C south loop Metra station?

Find the renderings (colored pencil; nothing fancy) on this post from this very thread. The design is not fancy, but it is modern and has some class, unlike the old one.

I think it would be nice if you could get to the platforms from both the north end at the 11th street pedestrian bridge AND the south end at the Roosevelt bridge, but it looks like there will only be one entrance to each platform, from the 11th street bridge.

DHamp Jun 29, 2007 3:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by orulz (Post 2925469)
Find the renderings (colored pencil; nothing fancy) on this post from this very thread. The design is not fancy, but it is modern and has some class, unlike the old one.

I think it would be nice if you could get to the platforms from both the north end at the 11th street pedestrian bridge AND the south end at the Roosevelt bridge, but it looks like there will only be one entrance to each platform, from the 11th street bridge.

Thanks for that. I've been following this thread pretty closely but I must have missed those. I agree, there should be an exit on the Roosevelt Road side.

Marcu Jun 29, 2007 10:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lukecuj (Post 2925019)
I don't get that how it's almost quadrupled in it's activity but, there has been no transit expansion at all in the last 50 years to serve the central business district.... excecpt for a half ass bus lane on the IC tracks and numerous bus route changes...

Well to be fair, there hasn't really been any road expansion either. If anything, with the addition of a Metra line, orange line, and pink line, mass transit has outpaced other forms of transit.

Not saying that there needs ot be road expansion. Just trying to put it into context.

SkokieSwift Jun 30, 2007 2:10 AM

Maybe I'm on crack but...

Would it be possible for the CTA to somehow pay for track improvements by selling the air rights over the tracks to developers???

ardecila Jun 30, 2007 9:29 AM

Not a bad idea... except that "track improvements" as part of CTA's maintenance program are made regularly, every 2 or 3 decades. Selling air rights is not a permanent source of funding.

Hong Kong's MTR System actually gets control of the land within a radius around its stations. Selling the land to developers and then getting a cut of their profits allows the system to expand. However, MTR's operating funds come from a different, more stable source.

The biggest problem with funding CTA expansions is the sheer cost of infrastructure projects in the US. Highly-paid, unionized workers and the cost of domestic building materials makes the cost of US projects 4-10 times more than similar projects in other countries (even other industrialized countries like France and Spain). These high costs mean that the majority of funding typically must come from the federal government, which sadly has all the money today.

nomarandlee Jun 30, 2007 2:22 PM

Cabbie picks up hybrid trend
 
Not mass transit, but I think city hall needs to pick up the pace on this trend...

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

Cabbie picks up hybrid trend
Independent operator city's 1st to jump into environmentally friendly vehicle—and he loves it


By Michael Hawthorne
Tribune staff reporter
Published July 1, 2007

With concerns about global warming on the rise, Fred Fugiel's new taxi is turning the longtime Chicago cabbie into a bit of a celebrity.



Fugiel started humming around the city last month in a fuel-sipping Toyota Prius, the first hybrid vehicle among Chicago's 6,300 taxis. His old 2001 Chevy Impala averaged a measly 19 miles to the gallon, less than half what his white-and-red Prius hatchback boasts in city driving. The Impala also churned out twice as much heat-trapping pollution.

"This car is a cult hero," Fugiel, an independent operator who's been driving cabs in Chicago for 40 years, said during a spin around the River North neighborhood. "It's going to save me a ton on gas. Plus people keep stopping on the street to give me the thumbs up."

Cities across the nation are cleaning up their taxi fleets to help reduce air pollution and fight climate change. But although Mayor Richard Daley pledges to make Chicago the greenest city in the U.S., environmentally friendly cabs like Fugiel's remain novelties for now.

So far, Fugiel has been joined on the streets by just one other hybrid taxi.

As of Sunday, city rules will require each of Chicago's 12 large cab fleets to operate at least one hybrid or alternative-fuel taxi. New York City, by contrast, already has 375 hybrid taxis and is switching all of its 13,000 cabs to more fuel-efficient models by 2012. Boston, Denver and San Francisco also are moving quickly to green up their fleets.

In Chicago and most other cities, the dominant cab still is the gas-guzzling Ford Crown Victoria, a spacious sedan that averages just 14 miles a gallon and belches about 10 tons of greenhouse gases into the air every year.

Nearly 90 percent of Chicago's cabs are Crown Vics, which also are commonly used by police departments and other government agencies.

"We would love to have every taxi be a hybrid or alternative-fuel vehicle," said Bill McCaffrey, spokesman for the Chicago Department of Consumer Services, the agency that licenses taxicabs. "But it can't be done overnight."

Hybrids run on a combination of gasoline and electricity that makes the vehicles far more efficient than conventional cars and trucks. The electric powertrain does more of the work in stop-and-start city traffic and the gasoline-powered engine shuts off completely when a hybrid idles.

As a result, the Prius averages 48 miles a gallon in city driving. The hybrid Ford Escape SUV gets 34 miles per gallon.

Squeezing more miles out of a tank of gas is a huge selling point for cabbies who pay their own fuel bills.

"I used to fill up once a day, but now I'm stretching that to once every three days or more," said Fugiel, a wiry native of Humboldt Park who tucks his salt-and-pepper ponytail through a New York Yankees cap. ("I bought it after 9/11," he explained. "But I'm a lifelong fan of the Cubbies.")

At City Hall, some cabbies have been clamoring for a fare increase or a surcharge to offset higher gas prices. Aldermen have suggested there might be hearings, but Ald. Edward Burke (14th) and Tom Allen (38th) have introduced a resolution calling for more aggressive efforts to convert taxicabs and municipal vehicles to hybrids.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg already has made hybrid taxis a big part of his ambitious environmental agenda. Because cabs by law must be replaced every few years, New York is moving to require three times as many hybrid taxis on the streets by next year. That number would increase by 20 percent during each of the next four years.

Switching the city's 13,000 taxis to hybrids will have the same effect on air quality as taking 32,000 privately owned vehicles off the road, Bloomberg said last month when he unveiled the plan.

Based on estimates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an all-hybrid taxi fleet in Chicago would cut carbon dioxide emissions for cabs nearly in half, to about 36,000 tons a year. City government, by comparison, produced more than 1 million tons of greenhouse gases last year.

The city rule requiring at least a dozen hybrid taxis also gave cab companies an incentive to go green. Conventional taxis must be replaced every four years, or five if they're kept in good shape. The new rule allows owners to keep hybrids on the street for an extra year.

Another veteran Chicago driver, Steve Wiedersberg, said the biggest drawback of hybrid vehicles is they generally are more expensive to buy than a Crown Victoria. There also are questions about the long-term durability of hybrids.

"I haven't driven one yet, but everybody is talking about these new cars," said Wiedersberg, former president of the Chicago Professional Taxi Cab Drivers Association. "Me, I'm used to my old gas burner, and I know it's cheap to fix."

Chicago Carriage Cab Co. put the city's first fleet-based hybrid on the street last week, a maroon Ford Escape. Simon Garber, the company's president, shares some the same concerns as his drivers but he also sees fuel-efficient cabs as a public-relations boost.

"It's a huge expense for us up front, but customers want to see these cars," Garber said.

Fugiel said many of his customers have been surprised to find a roomy back seat. The trunk is big enough to hold a couple of large suitcases and the ride is smooth.

"It takes a while to get used to how quiet it is at a stop light," he said. "But I end up getting a lot of compliments from riders. In all my years of driving cabs, I've never had such a positive experience."

mhawthorne@tribune.com





Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune

spyguy Jul 2, 2007 3:19 PM

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

At last, rehab work will arrive at Grand
Downtown's busy Red Line station will get a pricey upgrade after years of delays

Jon Hilkevitch
Published July 2, 2007


The automated announcement "This is Grand" gets it only half right when CTA Red Line trains enter the Grand/State station downtown.

Oh, sure, the canned voice blaring over train intercoms correctly identifies the location, officially at 521 N. State St. serving the upscale River North and Streeterville neighborhoods.

But the Grand/State station is far from being in grand condition.

The station opened in 1943 and has been repeatedly scheduled for a major overhaul, but skipped over. The austere drab-gray glass tile walls and the concrete floors and ceiling in the station's mezzanine are virtually unchanged -- just dirtier -- from when the rail depot debuted as part of the State Street Subway.

That cycle of neglect at one of downtown's busiest rail stations is about to end, although at considerable taxpayer expense because of the delays.

City officials will soon announce that work is set to begin in September on a $67.2 million station rehabilitation -- costing more than twice as much as city officials estimated in 2005. Reconstruction of the mezzanine and platforms will take about two years on the most complicated and by far most expensive rail station modernization downtown, officials said.

The second costliest was the Chicago/State station rehabilitation, completed in 2001 for $33.8 million, followed by the Jackson station project on the Blue Line, which wrapped up this year for $29.4 million.

Subway projects are never easy because debris must be carted up and hauled off.

"It's working against gravity, very expensive and time-consuming," said Thomas Ambry, transit director at the Chicago Department of Transportation.

What makes the Grand/State project even more challenging is that the buildings on all four corners of the intersection leave no on-scene staging area for construction crews.

"The contractor will have to bring equipment in and out each day and use small pickup trucks to shuttle in materials," said Ambry, an engineer and architect who designed the new Grand/State station.

The station will remain open to Red Line riders during the work, but some lanes on both Grand Avenue and State Street will be temporarily closed, according to CDOT.

The revamped Grand/State station will be larger, with the mezzanine expanded by about 2,000 square feet, said CDOT spokesman Brian Steele. Granite floors along with glazed tile walls and vaulted ceilings depicting the Chicago skyline will be installed, similar to the style at rehabbed Red Line stations at Chicago, Jackson and Lake, Steele said.

Other improvements include security cameras, video information screens and a more appealing retail vending area, officials said.

Wider stairwells, the addition of elevators and escalators from street level and more fare turnstiles will double the station's passenger capacity, officials said.

Grand/State served more than 10,000 boarding passengers on average each weekday in 2006 and it ranks as the fifth-busiest downtown CTA rail station, according to Chicago Transit Authority records. Clark/Lake is the busiest, with more than 16,600 daily boardings on the Brown, Orange, Pink, Purple/Evanston Express, Green and Blue Lines.

Part of the reason for the hefty $67 million price tag at Grand/State is that the work is the most extensive renovation to date of an existing CTA rail station, according to CDOT officials, who had estimated the work at $29 million. They said starting over by repackaging the project and seeking new bids would have caused further delays and pushed the final tab higher due to the escalating costs of materials. The Grand/State contract, still undergoing final review in the procurement process, is being awarded to Walsh Construction Co., Steele said.

"We knew the bids would come in above the engineering estimate because of the time lag between the estimate and the bid submissions, but it was still surprising how much higher the actual low bid was," Steele said. One other company vied for the job, FHP Tectonics Corp., which bid $69.7 million, Steele said.

To help pay for the project, CDOT is borrowing money already earmarked for other transit projects, including $30 million in mostly federal funds set aside to renovate the Clark/Division Red Line station in 2010. The state, meanwhile, was slow to release $13.4 million for the Grand/State station reconstruction. The second installment of state money was issued in mid-June.

Repeated delays have plagued the Grand/State project. In 1982 then-Mayor Jane Byrne announced a subway renovation program covering both the State and Dearborn Street subways. But the program ended before work was set to start on Grand/State.

Then in the early 1990s the John Buck Co. offered to help the city rehab the Grand/State station as part of a River North redevelopment plan, but negotiations stalled. Under a subsequent CDOT plan, Grand/State was scheduled for remodeling in the late 1990s at a projected cost of $15 million. The project was delayed, then rescheduled to begin in 2003. But city budget troubles sidetracked the rehab yet again. The false starts continued in 2005 and last year.

The bright spot for train riders is that a total of $236.7 million has been invested on the CTA system downtown since 1996. The plan involves renovating almost every downtown subway stop, from Roosevelt on the south (completed in 1996) to Clark/Division on the north (set to start in three years if money is available).

Reconstruction is estimated to begin, pending funding, in 2013 on the Madison/Monroe Red Line stop, in 2015 on the Dearborn/Washington Blue Line stop and in 2017 on the Washington "L" station serving the Brown, Pink, Purple/Evanston Express and Orange Lines, according to CDOT.

http://img107.imageshack.us/img107/7362/30913567ny9.png

Dale Jul 2, 2007 11:01 PM

As much as some of you Chicagoans gripe about CTA, it does appear that stations are being fairly well kept up, with many being nicely rehabbed.

SkokieSwift Jul 3, 2007 2:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 2927203)
Not a bad idea... except that "track improvements" as part of CTA's maintenance program are made regularly, every 2 or 3 decades. Selling air rights is not a permanent source of funding.

Or it could be more than track improvements. Whatever improvements are necessary to update that portion of the line to 21st century standards. Imagine the architectural and engineering innovations that could result by having buildings "straddle" the el tracks. And of course this would mean more density near transit lines...

Chi_Coruscant Jul 3, 2007 2:25 AM

^^That's a good new to hear the Grand/State station to be updated. That area is growing not only with the tourists using that station, but also to additional hotel, residential, and office projects u/c in the River North. The timing is right.

bnk Jul 9, 2007 2:37 PM

Chicago can't compete without good trains

(http://www.suntimes.com/news/othervi...-REF09.article)

July 9, 2007

BY JOHN NORQUIST
Quick. What do Tokyo, London, Paris, New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Dubai have in common?

Yes, they are all world financial centers with which Chicago both cooperates and competes in today's fast-paced global economy. And yes, several of them are Olympic cities, an elite group Chicago very much wants to join. But here's another key similarity: They are all investing billions in fast and efficient transit service. And that is where they part company with Chicago.

London is building a new express cross-town subway. New York is building the 2nd Avenue Subway, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg's much-publicized PlaNYC 2030 includes new lines in Brooklyn and Queens. Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tokyo are all adding hundreds of miles of new train service. And Dubai, the new financial hub of the Middle East, is adding 70 kilometers of rail transit with 55 stations.

Meanwhile, with transportation funding still unresolved in the Illinois legislature, Northern Illinois is girding for service cuts and fare increases. While people fear the scheduling headaches that could result, something bigger is at stake. Continuing lopsided support for highways over transit will jeopardize Chicago's ability to compete as a world financial center and begin putting at risk the many thousands of jobs connected to Chicago's commodity and financial markets. It will forgo opportunities to strengthen Downstate regions as well.

Here's how. In 2004, with CTA and Metra ridership growing as young professionals sought out the urban excitement and opportunity of the Midwest's economic capital, the State of Illinois pulled back on investment in the region's transit system. The state kept up spending on highways and tollways, but the capital funds that pay for transit improvements and serious repair began drying up. Instead of positioning Chicago to compete with London, New York and Tokyo in ensuring efficient, predictable transportation to and from its employment core, the state seems more interested in competing with Detroit to see which region makes a better truck stop.

Be sure there is no comparable plan for London or New York like the proposal last fall from some Illinois legislators for a truck way across the West Side of Chicago. In fact, plans are advancing to remove the Sheridan Expy. in a rapidly improving Bronx neighborhood. Paris is working to remove the only grade-separated highway in the city, the Auto Route Pompidou. This road where Princess Diana perished is increasingly considered a blighting influence. Instead, the French invest in high-speed rail and an improved Paris Metro.

Transit allows Chicago to be a high-rise city where the proximity of so many highly skilled professionals makes markets more efficient, supports the cosmopolitan culture that attracts investment and leads to more service jobs for non-professionals. To understand how much the market values good urban living, look at real estate prices in New York or London. Or look at Chicago compared to other Midwest cities. Chicago's Regional Transit Authority is second only to New York's and is unrivaled in the Midwest. Detroit and St. Louis competed with Chicago in the 19th and early 20th century, but saw their city populations more than halved between 1950 and 2000. Decisions to throw away their streetcar networks and build huge freeways everywhere only hastened their decline at a time when Chicago retained the L and suburban trains.

Advocates of Chicago's Olympic bid say it may spur new investment in infrastructure, especially rail transit. But why wait for the system to decline and then have to make up lost ground? Now is the time for the legislature and Gov. Blagojevich to provide the RTA the tools it needs to raise the capital to deliver world-class transit service. If RTA matched the investments going into New York and London, the Chicago region and all of Illinois would reap spectacular benefits. Imagine fast and on-time service on all the L and commuter lines. Imagine the Circle Route speeding up north-south travel and new Amtrak routes to Rockford and Peoria, strengthening inter-city economic linkages. Imagine high-speed rail to all the major cities of the Midwest. The yields on these investments are a state and region that are more attractive to people and commerce. Illinois should go for the real gold, securing Chicago's future as the market capital of the world.


John Norquist is president of the Congress for the New Urbanism, a Chicago-based organization promoting neighborhood-based development nationally. He was mayor of Milwaukee from 1988-2004.

Busy Bee Jul 10, 2007 2:38 AM

Excellent article. Norquist really knows how to speak sense to the specialist and layman alike.

OhioGuy Jul 10, 2007 7:56 PM

Ok, so that has to be one of the best things I've ever read from the Sun-Times. I was quite giddy while I read it. :) I hope our freakin state legislature & governor read this and maybe get a clue for once.

BTW, I rode Metra for the first time yesterday. I didn't feel like spending nearly an hour riding the slowass brown line to downtown, so I walked a couple extra blocks to the Ravenswood Metra station instead of the Damen El station to get downtown. My travel time ended up being cut by over 66%! Quite the nice ride it was. :)

VivaLFuego Jul 10, 2007 8:27 PM

Yep; try taking the express BNSF train from Naperville to Downtown: 32 minutes!

If CTA slow zones were repaired, the travel times would be alot more competitive. The slow zones and construction add 5-10 minutes of the travel time from Ravenswood to downtown.

ardecila Jul 11, 2007 8:23 AM

Yeah, Metra expresses rule... but Naperville to DT in 32 minutes? Wow. Out here on the UP-NW line, on the fastest express on the day (an outbound), it would still take me 45 minutes.

By the way... I've been noticing huge crowds on the off-peak trains. It might just be summertime, but I think a lot of people are coming home later, either due to work or visiting the city.

To solve this problem, which would be easier to implement: more cars, or more trains? In a perfect world, outside of rush-hour, trains would leave every half-hour on a skip-stop principle.

VivaLFuego Jul 11, 2007 1:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 2945940)
Yeah, Metra expresses rule... but Naperville to DT in 32 minutes? Wow. Out here on the UP-NW line, on the fastest express on the day (an outbound), it would still take me 45 minutes.

By the way... I've been noticing huge crowds on the off-peak trains. It might just be summertime, but I think a lot of people are coming home later, either due to work or visiting the city.

To solve this problem, which would be easier to implement: more cars, or more trains? In a perfect world, outside of rush-hour, trains would leave every half-hour on a skip-stop principle.

I too have noticed over the last 5-10 years that the PM rush has extended much later on Metra; typically their rush frequencies taper off after about 530pm, after which trains are packed.

The obvious problem with more trains is a much higher labor and fuel cost. More cars still has a higher labor cost because of conductors, and you're limited by the platform lengths on the line.

harryc Jul 11, 2007 4:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 2946152)

The obvious problem with more trains is a much higher labor and fuel cost. More cars still has a higher labor cost because of conductors, and you're limited by the platform lengths on the line.

One unseen benefit of round the clock service is the number of people who use the train(El) planning on returning home by midnight, but knowing that if something keeps them at work late the train is still there. Those ( now discontinued ) 3am trains on the Green line accounted for more riders than were actually on them. As does the 24/7 operation of the Red and Blue lines.

ardecila Jul 12, 2007 1:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 2946152)
I too have noticed over the last 5-10 years that the PM rush has extended much later on Metra; typically their rush frequencies taper off after about 530pm, after which trains are packed.

The obvious problem with more trains is a much higher labor and fuel cost. More cars still has a higher labor cost because of conductors, and you're limited by the platform lengths on the line.

The 7:30 on Monday was 4 cars. Of course, the front car was one of the older ones, and it leaked horribly, so it was only about half-full, but the other 3 were completely full. What station has a platform that can only accomodate 4 cars?

nomarandlee Jul 12, 2007 5:08 AM

CTA to tackle ‘slow zones’ and rider complaints
 
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...l=chi-news-hed

CTA to tackle ‘slow zones’ and rider complaints

By Jon Hilkevitch
Tribune transportation reporter
Published July 11, 2007, 1:53 PM CDT

The CTA today announced plans to make repairs that will address one of riders' chief complaints—so-called slow zones where deteriorated tracks require trains to operate below normal speeds.

The agency is reallocating $14.7 million to repair two additional miles of slow zones on the north branch of the Red Line and the subway portion of Blue Line's O'Hare branch. The extra work brings the total slow zones under repair to eight miles.

The Blue Line work is under way and should be completed by mid-September, a CTA statement said. The Red Line work, in the subway between Grand/State and Clark/Division and on elevated tracks between Armitage and Wellington, is to be completed by year's end.

"We know our customers have been extremely frustrated with the Blue Line's reliability and speeds, and we have been focused on a plan to restore the Blue Line to full speed as quickly as possible," CTA president Ron Huberman said in the release.

He also cautioned that the construction work will affect travel during off-peak hours. Riders should expect some service disruptions and weekend closures as crews replace deteriorated wooden rail ties with concrete rail ties, the CTA said. Huberman has made reducing slow zones a priority since he became president 10 weeks ago.

A slow zone is an area of track that has deteriorated to the point where trains can't operate at normal speeds. For safety reasons trains must slow down, sometimes to 15 m.p.h.

The CTA said it also plans to repair the Blue Line tracks between Addison and O'Hare over the next 15 months, but funding for that project is not currently available.

Slow zones on the O'Hare branch of the Blue Line are among the worst in the CTA system, and ridership on that branch has fallen more than 4 percent this year as more riders abandon the line because of poor service.

Huberman said he hopes to receive funding from Springfield or by delaying other projects to make the O'Hare project a priority.

Separately, at its meeting today, the CTA board approved spending $250,000 on a one-year pilot project to electronically monitor bus drivers.

The CTA also sent layoff notices to 1,094 employees. The job cuts are part of the CTA's contingency plan that would take effect in September if the state legislature fails to increase transit funding. The contingency plan includes service cuts and fare hikes to balance the CTA's budget.

The layoffs, fare hikes and service cuts would be rescinded if new funding is approved.

jhilkevitch@tribune.com



Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune

Mr Roboto Jul 12, 2007 1:46 PM

^This is good news and all, but really its about time - I mean its a given that they do this. The slow zones are ridiculous, and its amazing to me that ridership has only decreased slightly over the years. Who would want to keep riding on the bullshit blue line? But this is a like another bandaid for a gunshot wound.

The CTA needs way more fixing, and if chicago is going to keep its world class city status or whatever, this whole system needs major improvements in service and infrastructure. Makes the whole thing with springfield that much more frustrating. Forget funding for the next year or so, we need some permanent solutions now! Anyway, at least Huberman seems to be working on some of the problems and willing to listen to the riders.


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