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schwerve Mar 16, 2009 12:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 4141972)
^ Why can't both be done?

because its not trying to walk and chew gum at the same time its trying to eat and chew gum at the same time. There is limited funding for transportation in the country and any money that gets appropriated chicago's way has a choice, does it go to new projects or deferred maintenance. Unfortunately the money is not enough to do both. Certainly we should be lobbying for these projects as they are worthwhile and of value but until the money available exceeds the deficit in the system itself we shouldn't be looking to add to it. The place we should be looking for additional funds is not the Fed Gov't though, its the state, they're the ones who have failed to provide adequate funding for these types of capital projects the system requires.

Abner Mar 16, 2009 1:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago Shawn (Post 4141941)
To be fair, actions do speak louder than words, but also to be fair we have a transit system run by a separate agency, not the City of Chicago. Yes, the mayor can hand pick the president, and TIF funds could go more toward transit infrastructure (although that also becomes an aldermanic issue); but the CTA is intended to operate as an independent agency.

Okay, we've gotten some subway station improvements (which aren't that important an issue to me but I realize they are to others). The problem that I have is that, yes, actions do speak louder than words, although even some louder words from Daley would be nice, since he's always happy to use the power of the bully pulpit. But his interest in public transit is sporadic and meager at most. Do you remember maybe a two years ago when he gave some lip service to figuring out something to do with the Mid-City line? (I would remind you, he actually seemed to favor a trucks-only highway.) That's as far as it ever goes. It's the equivalent of telling an acquaintance you don't like, "Yeah, we should totally hang out sometime." No follow-through.

But I guess my main issue here is that we tend to pick and choose whether we want Daley to seem all-powerful or strictly bounded by his position narrowly defined, depending on how flattering the results are. He chooses the head of the CTA, and for that reason alone, he should be held accountable for its performance. Imagine if Bloomberg shrugged off any involvement whatsoever in public transit in New York with "Don't look at me, blame the MTA" or whoever.

Now I would definitely say we need to worry about maintenance and long-term funding stability before we can focus on expansion, so I'm not necessarily criticizing him for not expanding the system. I just think that he could have done a lot more to make that work actually happen--like replace Kruesi earlier, either reduce the TIF tax burden or use some of the money on transit (this is not an aldermanic issue--Daley is the ultimate decider of what happens with TIF money and all other parties are rubber stamps), increase the city's contribution to the CTA, hell, at least have a damn press conference once in a while and try to correct some of the ridiculous misconceptions Chicagoans have about how the CTA works. This city is pathetically uninformed about what's going on with transit, and if the mayor cared, he could do something about that. If we had taken care of our system during all those years we were supposedly experiencing some kind of Daley boom, maybe we'd be in a better position today to talk about expansion.

the urban politician Mar 16, 2009 1:30 AM

^ You know, it's remotely possible that a lot of the people here who have been sipping the Daley kool-aid (I certainly having been one of them) because of his ability to keep the City Council under his control are missing the big picture--namely that we've become content with the lesser of two evils. When criticized in the past, many here have said "well, would you rather have the Aldermen making these decisions?"

Daley has been a mixed package, really. But one has to seriously wonder if he just got a lucky break--he became Mayor just at the cusp of when city living was beginning to become enormously popular again in America. After all, it wasn't Chicago but pretty much every major city underwent a real estate and construction boom from the late 90's till about 2007.

Besides his successes with luring some companies to Chicago and building Millennium Park (no small feats, lets give him credit), what can we look at as an accomplishment of his that really sets him apart from other American municipal leaders? Bloomberg and Villagairosa have accomplished just as much if not more for their cities in their shorter periods of time in office.

I said this before and I'll restate it--from my observations if Chicago doesn't get the Olympics, one has to seriously consider if the era of Daley has run out of gas.

Mr Downtown Mar 16, 2009 3:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 4141882)
am I the only one who thinks that Millennium Park station and Union Station should be connected by an underground rail link?

Since at least the late 50s, there's been the desire to have a Monroe Street distributor of some kind. At various times, it's been discussed as an underground busway, a regular heavy rail subway, and part of the Central Area Distributor. Utilities and subway mezzanines have been placed where they won't interfere with a shallow-cut subway under Monroe. The idea, in one form or another, is in the Central Area Action Plan.

If, like me, you think rail lines should be built where desire lines are heavy now, as evidenced by heavily used bus service, there's a lot to be said for a Monroe-Columbus-North Clark subway.

Chicago Shawn Mar 16, 2009 4:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Abner (Post 4142067)
Okay, we've gotten some subway station improvements (which aren't that important an issue to me but I realize they are to others). The problem that I have is that, yes, actions do speak louder than words, although even some louder words from Daley would be nice, since he's always happy to use the power of the bully pulpit. But his interest in public transit is sporadic and meager at most. Do you remember maybe a two years ago when he gave some lip service to figuring out something to do with the Mid-City line? (I would remind you, he actually seemed to favor a trucks-only highway.) That's as far as it ever goes. It's the equivalent of telling an acquaintance you don't like, "Yeah, we should totally hang out sometime." No follow-through.

But I guess my main issue here is that we tend to pick and choose whether we want Daley to seem all-powerful or strictly bounded by his position narrowly defined, depending on how flattering the results are. He chooses the head of the CTA, and for that reason alone, he should be held accountable for its performance. Imagine if Bloomberg shrugged off any involvement whatsoever in public transit in New York with "Don't look at me, blame the MTA" or whoever.

Now I would definitely say we need to worry about maintenance and long-term funding stability before we can focus on expansion, so I'm not necessarily criticizing him for not expanding the system. I just think that he could have done a lot more to make that work actually happen--like replace Kruesi earlier, either reduce the TIF tax burden or use some of the money on transit (this is not an aldermanic issue--Daley is the ultimate decider of what happens with TIF money and all other parties are rubber stamps), increase the city's contribution to the CTA, hell, at least have a damn press conference once in a while and try to correct some of the ridiculous misconceptions Chicagoans have about how the CTA works. This city is pathetically uninformed about what's going on with transit, and if the mayor cared, he could do something about that. If we had taken care of our system during all those years we were supposedly experiencing some kind of Daley boom, maybe we'd be in a better position today to talk about expansion.


But Daley doesn't have sole control of the CTA. That was the point I was alluding to earlier. He can't just put in place some mandate to go a certain direction as he did with ordering the Park District to install wrought iron fencing. The CTA also has to operate under strict and quite frankly retarded unfunded mandates which increase the operational costs of running it. For example: being forced to have all makes and models of buses spread between all garages, rather than having one set of buses, their parts and trained labor at one garage. But, no CTA has to keep extra parts at hand for every model at every garage. We also have to run buses for 12 years or we have to pay the federal government back the money, despite any problems with the vehicles. This is why those POS Nambi articulated buses were kept running until they posed a clear threat to safety. There are many, many annoying requirements in running a transit agency that make the operation inherently inefficient.

Add that to bad employee practices, such as track maintenance crews signing off work that had not been performed. I could be wrong, but I don't think anyone realized how bad the conditions of the rail system were until the derailment exposed the lack of oversight in track maintenance.

I completely agree that more TIF money needs to be directed toward transit, and higher density needs to be mandated near station and along all commercial streets with major bus routes. But beyond that and lobbying for federal funds, what more can be done? The feds and the state hold the purse strings, and those requirements and dysfunctions need to be dealt with as well. Its a very complex issue.

The truckway on the belt rail line (Mid-City) by the way was being pitched as a truck AND BRT busway. Daley was not just flat out ignoring the idea of running transit down it. Freight truck traffic has been long sought as possibility for that corridor too, including back in the days of the Crosstown Expy proposal, which in some areas would have been up to a 1/2 mile wide with industrial incubator space catering to trucks built between the north and southbound traffic lanes.


I am not a blind Daley yes man, and I do agree that he needs to be more vocal on the issue, but he can't just wave the magic wand and make things happen, as he can with, or attempts to in other city issues.

One more thing: There have been shitloads of upgrades to the CTA over the last 15 years too. If Frank Kuresi did anything at all well, if was securing federal New Starts funds. We rebuilt the Brown Line, Dan Ryan branch of the Red, the entire Green Line, upgrades the Congress Branch of the Blue Line and the entire Douglas Branch now operating quite efficiently as the Pink Line. The total cost, is what $1.5-2 Billion?

Abner Mar 16, 2009 6:04 AM

Well I agree with a lot of that. I don't blame the CTA for struggling with the unreasonable demands it faces from various levels of government, and I know they compare favorably to other transit agencies, especially considering their ancient equipment and infrastructure. And I'm grateful for the improvements they have been able to make to the most dilapidated lines. I think most people who follow this thread feel the same way. I also know Kruesi can't be a scapegoat for everything that was wrong about CTA during his tenure.*

But I think you have to agree that Daley has not used, nor shown any interest in using, even the power he has by law, let alone the "real" power that we tend to ascribe to him, to promote improve transit. The CTA is massively unpopular in Chicago, and while that isn't Daley's fault, if he ever stuck up for the agency instead of leaving it out to dry, maybe that would be different. And you agree about TIF money and lobbying for federal money--well those are two pretty huge holes in his leadership! TIF provides over half a billion dollars that is almost totally under Daley's control, with nominal restrictions on its use that are routinely ignored anyway. The current city contribution to CTA is, what, like $3 million plus police service and whatever repairs CDOT gets around to?

He has so little official control over the CTA, yet the Block 37 superstation/airport express was his baby from the start, so the whole rotten mess went underway despite pretty much everybody's better judgment. He has power.

And let's not forget those federal restrictions apply to other transit agencies too. If they can manage, so can we, even if we really get dealt a crappy hand like the NABI buses.

TUP: I've always basically believed that Daley benefited from the same booming economy and return to cities that transformed New York, San Francisco, Boston, etc. to an even greater degree. Obviously we should stick to transit so I'll leave it there.

*I really don't know what to make of the unbelievable negligence on the part of track inspectors, though. How could all of them have done such a poor job for such a long time without their managers finding out about it and taking action? I haven't heard the whole story here and I don't think we have it, but I doubt it can reflect well on Kruesi. You say nobody knew how bad the track conditions were--well, riders knew there was something wrong, anyone who rode the Dearborn subway or the O'Hare extension knew. The cars whipped around like hell on those tracks.

whyhuhwhy Mar 16, 2009 2:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 4142098)
^ You know, it's remotely possible that a lot of the people here who have been sipping the Daley kool-aid (I certainly having been one of them) because of his ability to keep the City Council under his control are missing the big picture--namely that we've become content with the lesser of two evils. When criticized in the past, many here have said "well, would you rather have the Aldermen making these decisions?"

Daley has been a mixed package, really. But one has to seriously wonder if he just got a lucky break--he became Mayor just at the cusp of when city living was beginning to become enormously popular again in America. After all, it wasn't Chicago but pretty much every major city underwent a real estate and construction boom from the late 90's till about 2007.

Besides his successes with luring some companies to Chicago and building Millennium Park (no small feats, lets give him credit), what can we look at as an accomplishment of his that really sets him apart from other American municipal leaders? Bloomberg and Villagairosa have accomplished just as much if not more for their cities in their shorter periods of time in office.

I said this before and I'll restate it--from my observations if Chicago doesn't get the Olympics, one has to seriously consider if the era of Daley has run out of gas.


I wholeheartedly agree. I have always been a big Daley supporter. I especially like how he planted so many trees and was always so pro-park, but just lately have felt let down by just about everything that is happening in this city. From building museums right in the middle of our parks, to the outright freeze it looks like on planting trees, to the ENORMOUS potholes that are ALL OVER Chicago (the WORST I have ever seen in my years of living here), something just doesn't feel right lately and if I had to put my finger on it, "running out of steam" seems to fit the bill perfectly.

VivaLFuego Mar 16, 2009 5:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago Shawn (Post 4142370)
If Frank Kuresi did anything at all well, if was securing federal New Starts funds. We rebuilt the Brown Line, Dan Ryan branch of the Red, the entire Green Line, upgrades the Congress Branch of the Blue Line and the entire Douglas Branch now operating quite efficiently as the Pink Line. The total cost, is what $1.5-2 Billion?

Good point that people should remember (though the Green Line was wrapped up about a year before Kruesi arrived and was largely done through CTA's regular formula capital budget). Kruesi is/was a policy wonk much moreso than a nuts-and-bolts operations guy; Huberman is/was basically the opposite. Too long under one mindset will have obvious negative consequences, but under Kruesi's tenure and with his contacts and knowledge in Washington from his time at DOT CTA got a very disproportionately high amount of New Starts money to essentially rebuild existing lines, which of course isn't quite the intent of the New Starts program.

VivaLFuego Mar 16, 2009 5:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by whyhuhwhy (Post 4142809)
I wholeheartedly agree. I have always been a big Daley supporter. I especially like how he planted so many trees and was always so pro-park, but just lately have felt let down by just about everything that is happening in this city. From building museums right in the middle of our parks, to the outright freeze it looks like on planting trees, to the ENORMOUS potholes that are ALL OVER Chicago (the WORST I have ever seen in my years of living here), something just doesn't feel right lately and if I had to put my finger on it, "running out of steam" seems to fit the bill perfectly.

In the late 90s, the city was awash in tax revenue because most city services are funded by various taxes/user fees that are highly cyclical with economic activity. There's just less money available to do all that "fun" stuff now, since we so abhor reliable taxes like property tax in this region for some reason. The city's property tax levy basically goes entirely to debt service on bonds and pension fund contributions, city services and initiatives are are almost entirely supported by the cyclical user fees, excise taxes, sales taxes, etc.

In re: the road infrastructure, this is largely due to the lack of a state capital program that could be used to match available federal transportation monies. As I understand it CDOT has basically not had any significant arterial resurfacing program in a few years now, and of course it's starting to really show.

Of course, in theory Daley could have attempted a drastic restructuring of how Chicago raises revenue, but the political culture is one of expediency, so he's hardly alone in jumping at absurd revenue sources like the real estate transfer tax or using a chunk of money from asset leases to plug operating budget holes (e.g. with the meter lease).

ChicagoChicago Mar 16, 2009 5:36 PM

http://www.chitowndailynews.org/Chic..._reality,23817

Federal funds bring Circle Line closer to reality

BY ADRIAN G. URIBARRI
March 16, 2009 | 9:00 AM
Federal stimulus money could mean years-old plans to create a Circle Line connecting several El lines will move closer to completion.

Last week, Congress approved the $410 billion Omnibus Appropriations Act, which includes about $230 million for Illinois. Among state projects that made the final cut: The Circle Line.

Chicago Transit Authority officials say the project would make it easier for riders to make crosstown trips without changing trains in the Loop. The office of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who pushed for the earmark, calls it "a key component of the city's transportation strategy for the 2016..."

the urban politician Mar 16, 2009 5:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago Shawn (Post 4142370)
But Daley doesn't have sole control of the CTA. That was the point I was alluding to earlier. He can't just put in place some mandate to go a certain direction as he did with ordering the Park District to install wrought iron fencing. The CTA also has to operate under strict and quite frankly retarded unfunded mandates which increase the operational costs of running it. For example: being forced to have all makes and models of buses spread between all garages, rather than having one set of buses, their parts and trained labor at one garage. But, no CTA has to keep extra parts at hand for every model at every garage. We also have to run buses for 12 years or we have to pay the federal government back the money, despite any problems with the vehicles. This is why those POS Nambi articulated buses were kept running until they posed a clear threat to safety. There are many, many annoying requirements in running a transit agency that make the operation inherently inefficient.

^ Shawn, I guess my point is that Daley is one of the most powerful politicians in Illinois. He has clearly demonstrated in the past that when he really wants something, he knows how to pull the strings to get it. Are you kidding me, he got Millennium Park done, he got an airport for corporate executives demolished overnight, he seized control of the Chicago Public Schools, he's saying fuck you to wealthy suburbs and even the airlines and miraculously muscling through the monumentally expensive OHare expansion. Who knows how many other things he has accomplished through maneuvering under the table.

Look at the Olympics--look at the coalition he has put together for that, and he is clearly going to get Gov Quinn to put up whatever money is necessary to help guarantee the Games.

If Daley wanted to stick his neck out and get a transit line built--he could have done that--but he demonstrates no passion or vision for it. I have followed enough of Chicago's local politics to have 100% faith in that assertion. If he wanted a subway line connecting the Union Station to Streeterville/Navy Pier, it would have been built (a project that I think makes sense, but I'll shut up..). George Bush spent his 60th birthday with the guy! And now we've got Team Chicago running the whole show in Washington.

Villagairosa is bringing home the dough on 2 huge subway extensions in LA, and in NYC we've got a brand new subway line under construction, an extention of the #7 train, and a massive connection between the LIRR and Grand Central Terminal underway--and more is still planned.

And Chicago? Give me a break, a Metra stop at 35th? Slow zone removal on one of its busiest lines? Weak. I'm not saying that slow zone removal isn't necessary--of course it is--but it's just sad that Chicago's transit system is in the state that it is and Illinois' most powerful politican just lets the chips fall into place as they do without taking charge.

Where's the passion? Where's the Daley who built Millennium Park and is expanding O'Hare? Where's the foresight to recognize how important transit is going to be for cities of the 21st century? I see a bunch of weakness from Daley on this part. Win the Olympics and I'll shut up; lose the Olympics and lets hope somebody with a bit more vision gives him some serious competition in the next election.

the urban politician Mar 16, 2009 5:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChicagoChicago (Post 4143141)
http://www.chitowndailynews.org/Chic..._reality,23817
Chicago Transit Authority officials say the project would make it easier for riders to make crosstown trips without changing trains in the Loop. The office of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who pushed for the earmark, calls it "a key component of the city's transportation strategy for the 2016..."

^ Weak..

ChicagoChicago Mar 16, 2009 6:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 4143172)
^ Weak..

I'd have to agree, especially since it would take up to 15 years to build.

sammyg Mar 16, 2009 7:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 4143166)
Look at the Olympics--look at the coalition he has put together for that, and he is clearly going to get Gov Quinn to put up whatever money is necessary to help guarantee the Games.

If Daley wanted to stick his neck out and get a transit line built--he could have done that--but he demonstrates no passion or vision for it.

This is exactly the problem with Daley for the last few years - he's so focused on getting the Olympics that everything else in the city is getting neglected. He makes a token effort at the schools, police and transit, but until the Olympics is decided one way or another, nothing else is going to get his attention.

Hopefully some incremental progress can be made on improving transit even without his full attention, or if it becomes more closely tied to the olympic bid. Hopefully some other state leader will step up and work hard for transit - Quinn, Durbin, or someone of that stature.

Attrill Mar 16, 2009 8:42 PM

An important thing to remember about CTA (and RTA funding) over the last few years is that Blago royally screwed things up. I'm not saying this as an excuse for Daley, I also would have liked to see him push harder for CTA funding and improvements, but Blago seemed hellbent on screwing up every transportation bill that was worked out by the state legislature.

the urban politician Mar 17, 2009 12:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Attrill (Post 4143457)
An important thing to remember about CTA (and RTA funding) over the last few years is that Blago royally screwed things up. I'm not saying this as an excuse for Daley, I also would have liked to see him push harder for CTA funding and improvements, but Blago seemed hellbent on screwing up every transportation bill that was worked out by the state legislature.

^ That's far from a small point. I actually think Blago deserves a lot of blame for a capital program not being passed.

I'm encouraged by Quinn making April 3rd his goal for a $25 billion capital program, although I admit that is starting to look very ambitious

the urban politician Mar 17, 2009 1:34 AM

Check out this letter to the editor of the Daily Herald by Sen. Dick Durbin, a response to an editorial that criticized stimulus spending on rail projects. You've gotta love how he dishes it back out to them right at the end:

Durbin answers Chicago Daily Herald editorial
March 16, 2009

Your editorial “Let’s do more with stimulus …” fails to recognize key facts about the economic recovery bill and the proposed high-speed rail route from Chicago to St. Louis.

First, the bill was never designed to be the primary source of funding to remedy every problem in every community. Instead, it was designed to create or save millions of jobs; provide tax relief for middle-class families; and make investments in our economic future.

The bill includes $8 billion for high-speed passenger rail nationwide. If Illinois doesn’t tap into those funds, other states will happily take the dollars. Your contention that those dollars can be reallocated to non-rail projects is just plain wrong. That said, I will work to maximize the funding Illinois receives through every account in the economic recovery bill, including construction and improvements for local roads, highways and schools.

Passenger rail has largely been ignored for the past eight years. Your opposition to improving a train route serving Joliet, Bloomington-Normal and our state’s capitol is shortsighted. President Obama understands that investing in passenger rail will provide jobs while improving our transportation options.

That’s a vision I wholeheartedly support.

High-speed rail won’t become a reality overnight. On the Northeast Corridor, the most successful route in the nation, speeds were increased incrementally and ridership followed. The same will be true for the Lincoln line in Illinois, where gradual improvements in recent months have made the line the most viable candidate for high-speed rail service.

In regard to flood control projects for local communities along the Des Plaines River, I’ve continued my commitment to make these improvements in yearly appropriations bills, including the omnibus bill President Obama just signed into law. Incidentally, the only way to make sure there was timely flood abatement funding for Illinois was to secure it with an earmark - a process which some have condemned.

You express disappointment that Governor Quinn and I focused on high speed rail when touting the benefits of the bill for Illinois. I was disappointed that you didn’t contact my office to fill in some of the gaps in your knowledge first.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin

Assistant Senate Majority Leader

the urban politician Mar 18, 2009 1:51 AM

Gov Quinn's proposed state construction budget (pdf warning), including transportation funding allocations:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/media/...3/45627106.pdf

Some info that I gathered (correct me if I've read it wrong):

Total size of the budget: $26 billion
Total funding for transportation $12.8 billion
Allocation for transit $1.69 billion
Allocation for rail $1.21 billion
Allocation for roads and bridges $9.16 billion

CREATE will get $20 million

The portion of the document devoted to transportation funding is in pages 18-26

nomarandlee Mar 18, 2009 3:04 AM

:previous: How much is for new roads and brdiges I wonder. The sad thing is that even if we had polticans who really wanted to equalize transit/auto's we have so extended our road network and infrastructure that I think similar ratios are bound to be norm indefinatly. Also bones have to be thrown to downstaters for every budget and roads and not transit will obviously be their priority understandably.

MayorOfChicago Mar 18, 2009 3:22 AM

I love all this new spending from all these sources....but it kinda makes you ask where the F we're getting this money?

The past 6 months has seen our country jump on the bandwagon of throwing money at anything that will hopefully stimulate the economy.

Don't get me wrong, I've been hoping for YEARS to FINALLY get a little money for things that in my mind will greatly help our country and society....it's just kinda bizarre to suddenly be throwing billions...tens of billions....hundreds of billions of dollars around that we couldn't possibly think about while the economy was growing. Now that we're going bankrupt though, we suddenly start throwing mad amounts of money around like we're just "giving up" on any sort of financial responsibility.


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