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emathias Jun 5, 2011 11:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by denizen467 (Post 5304752)
Okay, but not so much doubt that planners can completely ignore the possibility of Carroll rail as they consider the other rail and road options for the area. Unless you guys mean you are expecting to kick the bucket in the next decade or two. ;)

It's not just that I think it's unlikely, it's that I think even planning to accommodate rail on Carroll would be disruptive to more important rail west of the river. There is no need for rail on Carroll, because it wouldn't make sense to put heavy rail there, and modern buses can provide nearly the capacity of trolleys and also have far greater flexibility on either end of a Carroll Street Transitway. I don't see any advantage, ever, to putting rail on Carroll. Heavy rail would be awkward to integrate on the west side of the river, and light rail has too many disadvantages that, in this scenario, I don't think are outweighed by the capacity advantage over buses.

I'm far from against more rail in central Chicago in general, just not on Carroll Street. The old Central Area subway plan with a subway under Monroe from the West Loop to Streeterville I think is still extremely appropriate, needed and a great idea. Extended that south from Streeterville to McCormick - or even further - would also be valuable in the coming decades. I also support a Clinton Street subway. I just don't think rail on Carroll Street makes sense now, nor is likely to ever make more sense than buses for that specific route.

ardecila Jun 6, 2011 12:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 5304798)
The old Central Area subway plan with a subway under Monroe from the West Loop to Streeterville I think is still extremely appropriate, needed and a great idea. Extended that south from Streeterville to McCormick - or even further - would also be valuable in the coming decades.

Agreed. It would be a godsend for the commute I'm currently making (Ogilvie to South Michigan Ave).

I've never really seen the need for all these intense McCormick Place connections, although the Lakefront Transitway already exists - the city would simply need to negotiate for its use and install platforms at certain points. IIRC, Metra's suburban leadership only allowed the Transitway to be built if CTA buses were banned from it. With new management at Metra and a greater push for regional co-operation, it may be possible to renegotiate this agreement.

denizen467 Jun 6, 2011 3:31 AM

^^ I understand your thinking that rail on Carroll is not preferred or likely for various reasons, I was only saying there's a certain number of decades beyond which it's not meaningful to say something like that will remain so unlikely. I'm curious, setting aside capital (but not maintenance) costs, isn't there a big advantage to a few capacious rail runs, rather than a ton of BRT buses swarming back and forth, if there is an alignment such as Navy Pier/Streeterville to Ogilvie/Union/West Loop where the goal is to serve concentrated gushers of passengers during limited periods of the day (not just commuting but events like fireworks)? The preceding assumes a scenario where the more-desirable Monroe-Streeterville alignment is not built for some reason (say, capital costs). Incidentally, does the Monroe corridor cross under the river?

^ Ardecila, sorry, I thought you were living out of state (given the description showing up on each post).


Speaking of the river corridor:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/c...tory?track=rss
Chicago's first protected bicycle lane to be installed on Kinzie Street

By Jon Hilkevitch, Tribune reporter
June 5, 2011

Chicago's first protected bicycle lane, separating bike riders from vehicles, will be installed on a short section of Kinzie Street, according to Ald. Brendan Reilly.

... will be tested on Kinzie between Milwaukee Avenue and Wells Street, a half-mile stretch that is used by many cyclists who commute in the central area. ...

Reilly's newsletter said construction of the Kinzie cycle track may begin this week. It said completion is expected by June 17, which is "Bike to Work Day" in Chicago.

ardecila Jun 6, 2011 5:15 AM

^^ Sorry, forgot about changing the location. Job pickings were very slim in NOLA, so I'm up here working until I go back to school in the fall.

Quote:

Originally Posted by denizen467 (Post 5304997)
I'm curious, setting aside capital (but not maintenance) costs, isn't there a big advantage to a few capacious rail runs, rather than a ton of BRT buses swarming back and forth, if there is an alignment such as Navy Pier/Streeterville to Ogilvie/Union/West Loop where the goal is to serve concentrated gushers of passengers during limited periods of the day (not just commuting but events like fireworks)?

I don't think so. Traffic on a West Loop-Mag Mile line wouldn't be nearly as spiky as you're assuming. The line would be busy all day with not only commuters but also many, many suburbanites visiting the city for shopping and entertainment... a traffic flow that is relatively steady each day, although much lower in wintertime (except the holiday shoppers).

Setting the line up as BRT would allow different lines serving different markets to operate on different frequencies. The bus running up Michigan or to Navy Pier could run consistently all day, while the bus running up Fairbanks could run more often during peak periods. On the transitway itself, these buses would combine to provide extremely frequent service... nobody would wait more than 3 minutes for a bus going from Union Station to Pioneer Plaza, but the specialized markets heading onto one of the branches would wait a bit longer.

During fireworks or popular lakefront events, extra service can be added easily, since the CTA has a vast bus fleet that isn't fully-used on the weekends.

The busway scenario comes with a higher operating cost when considered in isolation, due primarily to the need for more drivers. But if the routes serving the busway are just re-routed versions of existing bus routes, then CTA actually has very little added operating cost over what they already pay. By contrast, an LRT would require an entire specialized set of motormen, as well as skilled LRT mechanics and a large yard/shop facility.

This is one thing I have not heard addressed in the Carroll Street discussion... assuming that the open areas around Kinzie/Canal/Clinton will be needed for complex transit connections in the future, there is no space for an LRT yard unless the Merchandise Mart becomes much more generous with their sublevel. By contrast, the BRT buses could be driven to any one of numerous outlying garages, or a new central garage could be built in the industrial area west of the post office.

ardecila Jun 6, 2011 5:37 AM

Quote:

The preceding assumes a scenario where the more-desirable Monroe-Streeterville alignment is not built for some reason (say, capital costs). Incidentally, does the Monroe corridor cross under the river?
It's always been a little nebulous, but as I understand it the Monroe line would run from a signalized intersection (underground) at Monroe/Clinton to another underground signalized intersection at Monroe/Nichols Bridge. This would include a river tunnel as well as transfer facilities to Blue and Red at Dearborn and State, respectively.

I've always preferred my idea of re-using the trolley tunnels at Washington and [halfway between] Jackson/Van Buren to accomplish the same goal... hopefully as two separate lines rather than a weird loop configuration.

Really, any alternative will have awkward characteristics. The Red and Blue Line subways were built assuming that the Loop would be torn down, and they were built in an era when all the suburban steam-railroad commuters worked jobs within easy walking/streetcar range of the various rail terminals. Neither of those assumptions held true. As a result, we have what are essentially three competing ideas of what the downtown rail network should look like, superimposed on each other. I love the feel of the Loop, but I think we would have a much more effective network had the Loop been replaced with subway as proposed in 1968.

orulz Jun 6, 2011 3:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5305121)
This is one thing I have not heard addressed in the Carroll Street discussion... assuming that the open areas around Kinzie/Canal/Clinton will be needed for complex transit connections in the future, there is no space for an LRT yard unless the Merchandise Mart becomes much more generous with their sublevel. By contrast, the BRT buses could be driven to any one of numerous outlying garages, or a new central garage could be built in the industrial area west of the post office.

How about the former C&NW yard that stretches from basically Kinzie & Clinton to Chicago & Halsted? It is hardly used at all anymore. Surely some space could be spared for a light rail yard.

A busway would not necessarily be bad, but is it really optimal for a narrow underground right-of-way with a few curves? First, the exhaust might be problematic. Dealing with this would involve ventilation (which is expensive), trolley buses (Which raises the same question of hiring new mechanics and new maintenance facilities) or some sort of hybrid bus that can run for extended periods on battery power alone (A technology which I do not believe exists, at present.)

Second, buses that are not curb-guided (presumably these would not be) move more slowly in constrained spaces than trains. See example: Boston Silver Line, with top speeds in the tunnel of 10-20mph.

Third, while articulated buses are fairly large, LRVs can be coupled together making for trains over 300 feet long. Though the smaller buses would theoretically yield shorter headways, if there were multiple other lines feeding the busway, it would be difficult to assure that those headways are REGULAR. If the busway is served by four routes, you might get four buses coming within 2 minutes of each other and then a gap of 15 minutes until the next.

BTW, isn't there a plan for a grade separation under the railroad on Clinton Street as a part of this transitway?

Anyway, just like this could be a spine for multiple bus routes, this could also be a spine for future light rail routes.

ardecila Jun 7, 2011 5:50 AM

^^ I don't think exhaust will be a big problem if diesel buses are used on Carroll. Much of Carroll already sees vehicle exhaust, from loading docks and semi trucks to valets parking cars. Ventilation is only a concern where the space is well-sealed from the outside atmosphere, like in a subway, or when the volume of exhaust is tremendous, like along an expressway where congestion occurs (e.g. Hubbards Cave).

The Silver Line in Boston is a useful analogy, but only to a point. The Silver Line's tunnels are very tight, cut-and-cover subway tunnels woven around the Big Dig, the Red Line, and numerous building foundations. Carroll is really just a small street that got partially decked over, with many open grates and expansion joints for air to circulate though.

From an engineering standpoint, it's a fairly easy project... repave Carroll with a uniform surface, stripe it for bus operations, and build vertical access to the streets above at the stations. The challenging part is getting all the landowners along the route (many of which are major, major players) to accept the loss of their alley. That's why they pressured the city to examine using Lower Wacker instead.

Quote:

Originally Posted by orulz (Post 5305359)
BTW, isn't there a plan for a grade separation under the railroad on Clinton Street as a part of this transitway?

Yes. Early plans called for the crossing at Canal to be closed and an underpass to be built at Clinton (probably a low-clearance one, considering the other things that may be built beneath Clinton).

I've now heard that planners have abandoned the idea of a subterranean busway level in the WLTC, making it three levels instead of four: pedestrian concourse, HSR, subway. This would significantly reduce the cost of the project.

Buses would instead run on the surface... I'm not sure if "on the surface" means a bus mall, or simply dedicated lanes. I've always thought a Clinton bus mall might work nicely. The State Street mall was a failure, but only because of poor design, and because of other forces conspiring to push the Loop into decay... I don't think it disproves the entire concept. Of course, you would need to work with the business owners along the street... like allowing after-hours access to trucks for deliveries so that Clinton can remain a busy retail street.

ardecila Jun 7, 2011 6:12 AM

Oh, one last thing... CDOT crews are already out with cones, beginning to restripe Kinzie.

The City That Works can apparently work fast. I didn't think it was possible.

denizen467 Jun 7, 2011 9:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5305134)
It's always been a little nebulous, but as I understand it the Monroe line would run from a signalized intersection (underground) at Monroe/Clinton to another underground signalized intersection at Monroe/Nichols Bridge. This would include a river tunnel as well as transfer facilities to Blue and Red at Dearborn and State, respectively.
...
Really, any alternative will have awkward characteristics.
...

I think a huge question is whether the Monroe line would run underneath Blue/Red or between street level and Blue/Red. Something very deep could be rendered irrelevant, since a commuter spending 5 minutes descending into the earth's bowels and another 5 minutes coming back up, just to save 6 blocks' walking, will result in a huge portion of people blowing off the whole thing. Add the much-higher construction costs for something 5 levels underground compared to a shallow cut-and-cover, and Monroe seems like a complete non-starter if it's deep.

Yet, how does a shallow Monroe line get to the train stations? Because of the river you would still need a deep station under the Canal area.

Also I'm curious about your specific mention of Nichols versus just a mention of the general Columbus/Monroe area - is there something special about that location? At Columbus, Millennium Park is less in the way, and festival-goers would not swarm onto narrow sidewalks and would have direct access to Petrillo or Columbus. Also, after clearing the IC trench, the route could rise closer to street level at Columbus (where Monroe also has returned to grade) for a shallower station.

That also raises the question whether the Monroe Garage should accommodate a north-turning subterranean curve or any portion of station infrastructure. When, by the way, are Morgan Stanley & partners supposed to rebuild the Monroe Garage?

orulz Jun 7, 2011 6:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5306441)
Buses would instead run on the surface... I'm not sure if "on the surface" means a bus mall, or simply dedicated lanes. I've always thought a Clinton bus mall might work nicely. The State Street mall was a failure, but only because of poor design, and because of other forces conspiring to push the Loop into decay... I don't think it disproves the entire concept. Of course, you would need to work with the business owners along the street... like allowing after-hours access to trucks for deliveries so that Clinton can remain a busy retail street.

So do you mean that the buses would travel on the surface of Clinton Street, over the existing grade crossing? Or is the grade separation of Clinton and closure of Canal still planned?

Rather than a two-way bus mall on Clinton, a plan that I read about on here (which I thought was the current official plan) makes sense to me:

Carrol Street->
South on Clinton, under Railroad->
East on Jackson->
North on Canal->
Northwest on Milwaukee->
North on Clinton, under Railroad->
Carrol Street

Seems to me that allowing buses to use Carroll Street and putting dedicated lanes for them on Clinton and Canal does not necessarily exclude installing rails and using them as dual purpose bus/streetcar lanes.

ardecila Jun 8, 2011 5:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by orulz (Post 5307032)
So do you mean that the buses would travel on the surface of Clinton Street, over the existing grade crossing? Or is the grade separation of Clinton and closure of Canal still planned?

Eliminating the busy grade crossings at Canal and Clinton will be a major goal of any West Loop transportation project. The short stub of Milwaukee allows for Canal's northbound traffic to be neatly shifted over to a bidirectional Clinton, where an underpass will inevitably be built at some point. Canal north of Lake will become a dead-end street with the grade crossing closed.

The underpass/closure will be in the Carroll Street project (if that is built) regardless of whether the WLTC is ever built. The Carroll project calls for the BRT buses to run southbound on Clinton and northbound on Canal in dedicated bus lanes on the surface along the curb of each street, then dipping below the Union Station lead tracks before crossing the river on the C&NW bridge.

The WLTC was planned assuming that the Carroll project would be built in the short-term. The WLTC originally included an underground level for the Carroll buses and other rapid services; this level would replace the surface lanes which, by this point in time, would have become overburdened. Now, however, WLTC planners are exploring a more extensive set of surface bus lanes, possibly including the total closure of Clinton to cars.

emathias Jun 8, 2011 6:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by denizen467 (Post 5306520)
I think a huge question is whether the Monroe line would run underneath Blue/Red or between street level and Blue/Red. Something very deep could be rendered irrelevant, since a commuter spending 5 minutes descending into the earth's bowels and another 5 minutes coming back up, just to save 6 blocks' walking, will result in a huge portion of people blowing off the whole thing. Add the much-higher construction costs for something 5 levels underground compared to a shallow cut-and-cover, and Monroe seems like a complete non-starter if it's deep.

Yet, how does a shallow Monroe line get to the train stations? Because of the river you would still need a deep station under the Canal area.
...

The 1968 plan was for a shallow subway under Monroe. Presumably it would start a decline after Wells Street in order to make it under Lower Wacker and the River, and then it also has to clear the tracks between the River and Canal, but then could probably become shallow again by the time it hits Clinton. It definitely wouldn't need to be a really deep tunnel by that point. An ideal configuration might actually incorporate a large mezzanine directly *beneath* the Union Station south tracks, including direct access from the platforms.

The biggest problem with that might be "how do you do that while maintaining a working station". But, if you put the station there, not only could you have direct access for Union Station commuters, but you'd also have access for Ogilvey through the Union Station entrance at Madison and Canal next to 10 S Riverside and across the street from 30 N Riverside.

At any rate, it would probably be a nicely-used station if configured that way, and then going west there could be a station between Halsted and Morgan, and then it could turn south through UIC as originally planned, or run it south under Halsted as a deep subway to Bridgeport. South of Bridgeport there are places for yards, so it could work pretty well to shore up that part of the city with transit.

ardecila Jun 9, 2011 5:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 5308224)
Presumably it would start a decline after Wells Street in order to make it under Lower Wacker and the River, and then it also has to clear the tracks between the River and Canal, but then could probably become shallow again by the time it hits Clinton.

There's more clearance than you think. The former Washington streetcar tunnel started descending immediately after the Franklin intersection, and it was starting from ground level. The bus subway would already be one story down, and it can handle steeper grades than a streetcar tunnel can. I'll see if I can track down a cross-section of the old streetcar tunnel.

Quote:

It definitely wouldn't need to be a really deep tunnel by that point. An ideal configuration might actually incorporate a large mezzanine directly *beneath* the Union Station south tracks, including direct access from the platforms.
The Union Station platforms are very far above the bottom of the river (~30 feet). Building a subway station at that location would be very tricky, and the staircases/elevators would not be short (like the Clinton Blue Line, but deeper). Plus, the tunnel would need to start rising again as soon as it clears the river, but you can't build platforms on an incline.

Quote:

At any rate, it would probably be a nicely-used station if configured that way, and then going west there could be a station between Halsted and Morgan, and then it could turn south through UIC as originally planned, or run it south under Halsted as a deep subway to Bridgeport. South of Bridgeport there are places for yards, so it could work pretty well to shore up that part of the city with transit.
I suppose. The advantage of a bus subway is that various routes can use it to get across the Loop, but if you're going to extend it all the way to Bridgeport, hell, why not just build light-rail?

denizen467 Jun 9, 2011 11:09 AM

What is currently between the Monroe Street subway stations and the street - a mostly empty cavity, or does something massive have to be excavated/rebuilt in order to push the Monroe line through there?

Also, regarding extending the Monroe line at its western end, here's one thing you almost never hear discussed: What is the future of Canal Taylor, or whatever that 3-block-wide strip from Congress to Roosevelt is called? It seems like it would be an ideal area for the Loop to spill into several decades from now, or at least for moderate rent purposes (like Northern Trust now) since the big plots on the east side of the river might be more prestigious. It is close to the big stations; it would be a no-brainer if there was an easy shuttle connecting it to the Loop. The whole area is basically a blank slate - even the bi-level street grid could easily be adopted for the whole thing if needed. If only Illinois's taxes would not scare away corporate relocation planners...

emathias Jun 9, 2011 1:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5309103)
...
The Union Station platforms are very far above the bottom of the river (~30 feet). Building a subway station at that location would be very tricky, and the staircases/elevators would not be short (like the Clinton Blue Line, but deeper). Plus, the tunnel would need to start rising again as soon as it clears the river, but you can't build platforms on an incline.

I did say a mezzanine beneath the tracks, which would break up the trip, but your point may still be valid for people traveling from Surface level. A mezzanine beneath the tracks would still be pretty cool, though, and the distance certainly wouldn't be any worse than Moscow's stations.

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5309103)
I suppose. The advantage of a bus subway is that various routes can use it to get across the Loop, but if you're going to extend it all the way to Bridgeport, hell, why not just build light-rail?

For Monroe I'm referring to the 1968 proposal, not a bus subway. I am suggesting a heavy-rail subway. Monroe, supposedly, has had ROW preserved, so in theory there should be fewer-than-average utilities, etc, to have to remove to do a shallow cut-and-cover subway through the loop that would (as per schematics from 1968) travel over the Red and Blue lines.

orulz Jun 9, 2011 2:41 PM

I took a look at the Chicago Central Area Action Plan. It shows the proposed Clinton/Larrabee subway with stations at:
Larrabee/Division
Larrabee/Chicago
Kingsbury/Grand
Clinton/Monroe (there would be a long mezzanine from Madison to Adams)
Clinton/Congress
Clinton/Roosevelt

One station seems to be conspicuously missing, Clinton/Lake. I wonder why? There's a 3/4 mile gap.

I would say that the Blue Line is missing a station there as well. There's a mile between Milwaukee/Grand and Clark/Lake; I'm sure there are plenty of people who ride the Blue Line that wouldn't mind getting off at Clinton/Lake for a shorter walk to offices in the West Loop. Is there a particular reason why there is no station in this area on the blue line? does it have to do with the incomplete, never-used flying junction at Lake Street? Or was that part of town just not built up enough to justify a station when the line was constructed in the 40s/50s? Would it be possible to construct an infill station there today?

That would give both the Green Line and the O'Hare branch of the Blue Line a direct transfer to the Clinton subway.

ardecila Jun 10, 2011 5:11 AM

^^ I'm not sure. I don't think the flying junction would have an effect (the structure is one block further east), but I could be wrong.

I suppose if the Clinton subway was designed properly, it could be linked into the Blue Line using the Lake Street tunnel stubs. Even if they don't run revenue service, a connector between the Red and Blue Lines downtown would be invaluable.

I do know that an infill station on the Blue Line will never happen. Underpinning the existing tunnels to slip another tunnel underneath is hard enough.

denizen467 Jun 10, 2011 11:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 5309274)
Monroe, supposedly, has had ROW preserved, so in theory there should be fewer-than-average utilities, etc, to have to remove to do a shallow cut-and-cover

I thought it was pretty well known that the city has continually been ensuring there are minimal utilities under Monroe. Does anyone here know for sure (either what the actual situation under the street is, or what the city's policy is, or how rigorously the city has been enforcing that policy)?

M II A II R II K Jun 11, 2011 2:49 PM

CTA unveils bus rapid transit plans


June 8, 2011

By Tracy Swartz

Read More: http://www.redeyechicago.com/news/ct...,1271645.story

Details: http://www.transitchicago.com/jefferybrt/

Quote:

CTA riders who take a Jeffery Boulevard bus on the South Side could see their commutes shortened by up to seven minutes during rush hour, under the proposed bus rapid transit plans the CTA unveiled Wednesday. It takes the No. 14 Jeffery Express about 71 minutes, 30 seconds to travel from 103rd Street and Stony Island Avenue to Washington and Jefferson Streets in peak hours, the CTA estimated. That commute time would be cut to nearly 65 minutes if bus-only lanes were implemented on the South Side of Jeffery Boulevard and buses on that street got priority in traffic over cars, the agency said.

- The CTA was awarded an $11 million federal grant last year to test bus rapid transit on Jeffery Boulevard. The CTA is in the design phase of the project. Construction is expected to take place spring through summer next year with service anticipated to begin in fall 2012.

- "The new BRT elements that the CTA is implementing on the Jeffery Corridor are exciting improvements to service for riders and a big step forward toward implementing a full-scale BRT network in Chicago," said Lee Crandell, the group's director of campaigns.

Among the CTA's proposals:

>> Bus-only lanes: The area between 67th and 83rd Streets on Jeffery Boulevard would be for buses only on the northbound side from 7-9 a.m. and on the southbound side from 4-6 p.m. During the other times, cars would be allowed to park in the lane. Bike lanes are not expected to be implemented for this area.

>> New and improved bus shelters: Thirteen existing shelters would be upgraded, including two shelters at Michigan Avenue and Jackson Boulevard. Nine bus shelters would be added between 67th and 103rd Streets on the northbound side of Jeffery Boulevard. The shelters would have Bus Tracker displays, sidewalk ramps accessible for people with disabilities, bike racks and landscape planters.

>> Fewer stops on Jeffery Boulevard: On the South Side, many stops would be at major intersections, about a half-mile apart, instead of at every block. The No. 15 Jeffery Local route would supplement service.

>> Showcase showdown: A "commercial showcase" station would be built at 71st Street and Jeffery Boulevard. The shelter would have a weather canopy, a farecard vending machine and crosswalk paving. Meanwhile, a "residential showcase" station at 100th Street and Paxton Avenue would have special crosswalks for pedestrians.

>> Transit signal priority: Traffic signals between 73rd Street and 84th Street on Jeffery Boulevard would provide an early or extended green light so buses could get through the intersection more quickly. Meanwhile, a bypass lane would be set up on Jeffery Boulevard at Anthony Avenue. A special traffic signal there would allow the bus to go through an intersection ahead of general traffic.

>> Bus enhancements: Fifty-three buses from the 103rd Street garage would be updated. Buses could be equipped with Bus Tracker so riders could anticipate transfer and arrival times.

.....

the urban politician Jun 12, 2011 1:09 AM

^ Only 7 minutes?


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