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roseville Feb 21, 2007 11:26 PM


Originally Posted by Lukecuj (Post 2644483)
Land for proposed highway not for sale, owner says
(Crain’s) — The owner of the railroad corridor where Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan wants to build a cross-town expressway says it won’t give up the land for a new Chicago highway.

The 22-mile toll road, authorized in an Illinois House resolution introduced Tuesday by the speaker, would mostly run parallel with Cicero Avenue on land now occupied by Belt Railway Co. tracks. The Bedford Park-based railroad said Wednesday the land is not for sale.

“It’s absolutely not an option,” said Timothy Coffey, general counsel for Belt Railway. “Land contiguous to existing tracks are not parcels that we would sell.”

Track rights of way and old rail yards were once considered prime redevelopment sites in Chicago. But railroads have mostly pulled back from selling off real estate as freight traffic, which has surged in recent years, pushes the area’s railroad system to its limits.
The Belt line, jointly owned by the nation’s six major freight railroads, is a critical link that allows trains to switch from one railroad to another.

Mr. Coffey noted that in most places the Belt’s corridor is 50 to 100 feet wide, a swath not wide enough to accommodate a multilane highway with interchanges.

Calls to Speaker Madigan’s office were not immediately returned. A spokeswoman for the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority said the cross-town project is not part of the authority’s long-range plans.

“This project has been discussed for many years, but the tollway has not been part of those discussions,” the spokeswoman said. “Obviously we’re going to have to have some discussions with the speaker’s staff.”

This sure makes Madigan look like a fool.

Wouldn't this also mean that any Mid-City Transit Way or truck route would be out too? These guys don't want to sell. Isn't this the same land we're talking about?

Beyond this point, I have to say that both the Trib and the Sun-Times suck. Why wasn't this important tid-bit of information included in their coverage of this story? It sure changes the scope of the picture, and in fact makes it a non-story.

hoju Feb 22, 2007 12:13 AM

I was thinking that as a trucks only road on the ROW that this might be an ok idea, but I am solidly opposed to another highway cutting up our communities. But as it stands, there isn't room for both a road and a CTA line, and the truck ROW isnt for sale. Do you guys think that Daley would still push for this if it were only a CTA line and not a road? Could the city eminent domain the rail ROW? Should they do this considering that the freight traffic in the region is growing?

Attrill Feb 22, 2007 12:43 AM

I think I figured it out - someone decided to play a joke on Madigan and told him Blagojevich's house abutted the ROW.

I can't see anything Madigan hoped to achieve by making such an ass of himself, this whole thing has just been batshit crazy. He may as well have proposed powering the CTA with Unicorns or something.

I think that Belt Railway would consider selling, but it would need to be a serious proposal that was discussed for a long period of time (something Daley was probably already in the process of doing).

MayorOfChicago Feb 22, 2007 1:11 AM

So seriously...

I'm assuming this is just a pipe dream right? There's so much shit going on in the state government right now and horrible deficits, does this guy really think he can sip down his folgers some morning and mention how he'd like a huge tollway to rip through the residential heart of Chicago and now we all think it's going to happen?

alex1 Feb 22, 2007 1:16 AM

i'm against any new highway in Chicago but I'm absolutely anti-anti-anti-rail lines next to or inbetween highways.

It's the ultimate bad idea from a practical, transit-minded POV.

honte Feb 22, 2007 1:41 AM


Thanks everyone for all that discussion. OK, I was sleepy when I posted that thing and I completely recall any inkling of support I had for the highway.

Somehow in my stupor I was imagining a beautiful, 15 mile cable-staid bridge flying high over the city and its neighborhoods, showering the communities below with freshly minted currency. I was cruising along at 100 mph with the windows down, surveying the city skyline and Lake Michigan in the distance.

Oh well.


Could the state use imminent domain on the Belt Railway? Not a good idea, but I wonder if they'd go to that extent.

The truck traffic along 90-94 does seem to be a major problem, and I do wish there were a sensible way to reroute it.

ardecila Feb 22, 2007 2:06 AM

Hmmm.... where to start.

First of all, looking at some of the original plans for a split-design highway: they're not half-bad. I'd take them any day over the current designs of the Kennedy, Ike, or Dan Ryan.

-the interchanges are extremely compact
-the RoW is small enough not to disrupt the neighborhoods as dramatically as the Dan Ryan; if the Ike fits in 1 block's width, each direction of this would fit into 1/2 block's width
-split directions would reduce noise by one half, since there'd be 1/2 mile separating the directions
-the highway would be sunken, and because of its narrow width, it might even be cover-able in residential neighborhoods.
-the narrow width would also make frequent pedestrian/street bridges feasible, maintaining a semblance of the street grid, probably at alternate or every 3rd streets

The downsides - the split proposal would replace both Cicero AND Kostner, 1/2 mile streets, with highways. Many businesses on Cicero and many houses on Kostner would be razed. The highway would probably require the seizure of the properties on the east side of Cicero and the west side of Kostner. What remains of Cicero and Kostner would become frontage roads, like State Street is for the Ryan or Harrison for the Ike.

Even objectively, though, I would not support this proposal. It's coming too late. Although it represents a dramatically different, better model for the way a freeway can integrate into an urban environment, it would destroy too much of existing Chicago to be worth it.

As for the CTA line - it would probably be built between Cicero and Kostner, in the RoW of the Belt Ry, similar to the Orange Line. Hopefully, the CTA can secure enough land to build express tracks, because this line could potentially find great use for them in airport links, express crosstown services, etc.

schwerve Feb 22, 2007 6:12 AM

Daley backs Crosstown concept


Daley favors a two-lane, truck-only "freeway" — with a mass transit line down the middle — built on a platform to avoid displacing hundreds of homes and businesses in the Cicero Avenue corridor.

"We're not about tearing anybody's homes down. It's a concept. We have a lot of railroad property going north and south. That's what we have to look at," Daley said.

"You have to eliminate trucks. Trucks is the major issue. One lane going north. One lane going south. That's all you need. And you have public transportation in the middle."
There is a massive need for the crosstown in theory. There are no transit corridors north-south other than the dan ryan and thereby completely cutoff the south and west sides from each other. The costs are way too high now to really do anything about it; however, daley's proposal is interesting, I don't know how he could possibly build it though.

hoju Feb 22, 2007 6:52 AM

So Daley wants it to be only 2 lanes, trucks only? That sounds a lot better than a 8 lane expressway. While I agree that building more roads and more lanes is costly and only encourages more traffic, a truck only lane would mean significant economic benefit to the region with increased efficiency of movement of freight through the city. While a CTA line running alongside the expressway is non-optimal, it is better than no line at all. I wonder if Madigan shares Daley's vision on the trucks only and the cta line.

denizen467 Feb 22, 2007 7:10 AM

People, there exists a 3rd dimension out there:

What about stacking southbound on top of northbound? Seems cheaper than buying up all the properties along Cicero (at least if we're talking about only 1 or 2 lanes).

Busy Bee Feb 22, 2007 2:34 PM

^Yes in terms of awesome. Not so sure in terms of cheaper. That's some serious superstructure, for quite a long distance.

MayorOfChicago Feb 22, 2007 3:42 PM


Originally Posted by Busy Bee (Post 2645751)
^Yes in terms of awesome. Not so sure in terms of cheaper. That's some serious superstructure, for quite a long distance.

Not to mention quite ugly if it sliced through the whole city like that.

Attrill Feb 22, 2007 3:53 PM

A truck only 2 lane road with public transit is possible, and that seems to be the direction the city is/was exploring. What Madigan proposed is a full blown expressway.

The ROW is a little narrower than Cicero Ave., and any expressway has to be a lot wider than a road to accomodate higher speeds, a breakdown lane, and median. Even stacked you're looking at taking out a couple lots adjacent to the ROW. And that doesn't include the lots that will be needed for on ramps and interchanges.

Even if a single house isn't taken out there would be a huge uproar in the neighborhoods affected by it. I'm not a NIMBY by any means, but if someone proposed a multilevel expressway on my block I'd be up in arms.

honte Feb 22, 2007 4:20 PM

Deep Tunnel + Big Dig = Crosstown Expressway?

Seriously, if we have the know-how and if Boston can make it happen, why not here? Well, probably the $ billions it was over budget in Boston won't help the cause. But all of those blasting and digging crews are going to be idle and ready to vote once the Deep Tunnel is complete! :haha:

Attrill Feb 22, 2007 4:35 PM


Originally Posted by honte (Post 2645899)
Deep Tunnel + Big Dig = Crosstown Expressway?

Seriously, if we have the know-how and if Boston can make it happen, why not here? Well, probably the $ billions it was over budget in Boston won't help the cause. But all of those blasting and digging crews are going to be idle and ready to vote once the Deep Tunnel is complete! :haha:

I really like the idea of highways being underground, but Boston's experience with the CAT has probably killed the possibility of another one being built in the US for decades to come. It was not only way over budget, its also leaking like a sieve and the ceiling panels are collapsing.

The Deep Tunnel project has also made it much more difficult to build any subterranean structures in Chicago - any tunnel structure has to either go around Deep Tunnel or have additional supports built where it crosses it (drastically increasing the cost).

Norsider Feb 22, 2007 4:56 PM

The truck-only idea has brought we around from this projects biggest opponent to its biggest supporter. Huge boost to industry all along that corridor, political momentum for an accompanying transit line, reduced congestion on the main expressways (not to mention arteries like Cicero Avenue), plus a limited number of lanes not taking up that much space, just a lot of things to like about this project as Delay has envisioned it. In fact, he just won back my vote with this project.

mcfinley Feb 22, 2007 5:50 PM

3 questions/comments

Is Daley proposing a 2 lane with a substantial breakdown lane? Because if he wants an expressway without a means for trucks needing to pull over for service, this could be a disaster.

I like the idea of a raised double decker express, but how much would this cost? I'm not certain (can anyone confirm), but it seems like $5B was the project costs of the expressway. While I have no experience with this sort of thing, that seems like a really low number for this size of project. And would the economic benefit of this project outweigh the funds that would not go toward other needs like CTA development or education?

I think Daley mentioned laying some of the expressway over existing railway to minimize its effect in neighborhoods. Anyone have a rough estimate of how much could be done like this?

Busy Bee Feb 22, 2007 7:24 PM


Is a future truck interchange location being planned for in the Dan Ryan rehab? If the Mid-City proposal had the new CTA line terminating at 87th/Dan Ryan does that mean that trucks would be entering and exiting the Ryan at the same junction? Such a complex interchange would be so costly you would think even if they are mildly considering it, they would leave some sort of accommodating infrastructure at that location, to make it less costly when/if it does occur.

Attrill Feb 22, 2007 7:41 PM

Running east from Midway the original plan follows the ROW along the tracks just north of 75th - it cuts south and I think the interchange was originally planned to be around 83rd or 87th. Both the city's plan and Madigan's hallucination haven't been planned out at all and no work for them has been included in the Dan Ryan work (or in any work for that matter).

I think $5B might be enough to cover the environmental impact study :D

I think Daley's plan of either a new CTA line or a CTA line and truck only route could, maybe, possibly, happen in the far distant future, but there will never be the tollway that Madigan proposed. Never.

Grego43 Feb 22, 2007 9:00 PM


Originally Posted by Lukecuj (Post 2646251)
Elevated expressways are awesome and are an important aspect of the city beautiful movement. I love how the Chicago Skyway just disects the southeast side, another reason why that area of Chicago is one of the hotest parts of town.

...LMFAO...that is priceless! ;)

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