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-   -   CHICAGO: Transit Developments (https://skyscraperpage.com/forum/showthread.php?t=101657)

the urban politician Feb 22, 2008 3:37 PM

^ I have to admit, what MayorofChicago said above at least partially rings true. We have heard of so many Chicago area transit proposals in recent years, and one has to wonder what, if any, of these will come to fruition?

I agree that it is important to study various routes and their potential contributions, but do so many have to land on the Federal New Starts list? I'd really like the RTA to simply cut through the crap and say "we badly need these 2 projects to happen", and throw all of their political weight behind them. I'm concerned that we could be spreading ourselves too thin, no?

VivaLFuego Feb 22, 2008 3:58 PM

^ Shotgun approach. Throw enough of these out there, eventually one will capture a powerful politician's imagination and he'll get it pork-barrelled. While some proposals are answers to questions no one really asked (e.g. the Ogden streetcar? STAR line? -Arguably- the Circle Line?), the large number of useful ones underscore the need for general investment in expanding transport infrastructure in the region. If reasonably affordable to do so, it doesn't hurt to have preliminary analysis done on any of these routes so the thing is ready to go to engineering/design once the money comes through.

Abner Feb 22, 2008 4:59 PM

I was actually going to ask what the story is with the open space/partial track along the Eisenhower that's been having some work done on it, apparently very slowly. Those could be CTA express tracks? Honestly, they could probably only skip about four stations though.

Also, if track/car maintenance issues would be such a problem with a line this long, how did they ever get an extension of the Congress line all the way out to Westchester? I guess it was just an extremely long, slow trip. Funny how so many of the current "expansion" proposals (Circle Line, Yellow Line infill stations, Gray Line) are in some part just proposals to restore service that once existed.

schwerve Feb 22, 2008 5:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3371684)
Another thought in re: travel times. The Blue Line ROW is 4-tracks wide from the Halsted portal to about Pulaski. Express trackage anyone? As long as we're dreaming big with billions of federal dollars, why not?

IMO the only way that this makes sense is if this runs express like a purple line west. If you can use this money to help construct an express track and fold that into a airport express we might have something interesting on our hands.

Chicago Shawn Feb 22, 2008 6:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by schwerve (Post 3371879)
IMO the only way that this makes sense is if this runs express like a purple line west. If you can use this money to help construct an express track and fold that into a airport express we might have something interesting on our hands.

Yeah, that is what came to my mind as well. Although I would prefer to see inner city extensions first and foremost, I find this proposal plusable because of the high employment density of the Tech Corridor on I-88. It is much more efficient to have large employment centers on both ends of a transit line, rather than one end. It provides for better utilization of the system in both directions rather than having crush loads going one way and empty trains the other, and therefore boosts the overall rush hour capacity.

There will always be plentiful job markets in the suburbs, no matter how many cooperate HQs decide to move downtown in the future. Connecting them to transit, where the employment density is high enough to warrant it, is only a good thing for the entire region, as long as it doesn't starve other needed projects of needed funding through the high cost of implementation. If a creative financing method (toll revenue sharing, special assessment taxes on commercial property in the I-88 corridor) was used to help the project along, then I would be in favor of it.

Such a project could turn the West Side and near west 'burbs into sort of "sweet spot" or housing choice, as it would sit between one large and one extremely large employment center, both of which are saturated with white and pink collar jobs and connected by transit.


Look at the Blue Line's O'hare link. It provides access to thousands of jobs the other end of the line. Even at 3-4AM, trains heading out to O'Hare have every seat filed by the time they reach Jefferson Park, trains are filled with employees taking on the morning shift for airport and hotel jobs. Later, the reverse commuters for the O'Hare office market begin boarding.

ArteVandelay Feb 22, 2008 7:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Abner (Post 3371844)
I was actually going to ask what the story is with the open space/partial track along the Eisenhower that's been having some work done on it, apparently very slowly. Those could be CTA express tracks?

Not CTA express tracks. A contractor is redoing the signal system along the blue line, and almost all the work you've seen along the Eisenhower is related to this work. That is what the short rail siding at Peoria is for as well.

For what its worth, the ROW is only wide enough for express tracks to about the old California station (although it is VERY wide up to that point). After that the ROW gets tight until it leaves the middle of the freeway before the old Central station. Its not as tight as the Kennedy, but putting in a four track express through much of this area would still be massively expensive/impratical, particularly between Pulaski and Cicero.

emathias Feb 23, 2008 2:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by k1052 (Post 3371632)
...
I don't see much in the way of feasably extending the Brown Line. You'd have to tear through a neighborhood with elevated or go subway ($).

Straight-line rail on solid cement beds, like the Orange Line, is nowhere near as loud as the old-style steel structures even when it's elevated. Properly constructed, it's probably even quieter than the elevated embankment like the section of Red Line that runs on through Edgewater since you'd have the rail held solidly in place so there's less variation and less vibration and less wear.

There are a series of alleyways running parallel to and just between Lawrence and Leland, with only a couple short breaks all the way from Kimball to the Edens. Using the city's alley ROW, you could totally resurrect the old "alley 'L'" spirit and build it there.

I'm sure there'd be objections to it, but fighting and winning the right to build that would be a tremendously useful precedent for the CTA.

It seems like it could be done and, if the alley were used, for less money than might be expected. the most expensive part might be connecting to the Blue Line, and worst case it could just end there and force people to make a transfer. Transfers aren't really all THAT bad.

Side Note: This 1896 NYTimes article about a legal obstacle to getting the subways there built over 100 years is pretty interesting.

nomarandlee Feb 25, 2008 8:22 PM

Gary Airport News
 
Quote:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...7176059.column

Gary as the 'third airport'?
Passenger air service returning next month
Jon Hilkevitch | Getting Around

.........For travelers who prefer not to drive, shuttle-bus service will begin operating March 13 to the airport from the South Shore Line commuter station about a mile away. The shuttle fare will be $1.25 a ride.

The South Shore runs between the Millennium Park rail station in downtown Chicago and South Bend, Ind., where the trains enter the terminal at South Bend Regional Airport. In the long term, if a second passenger terminal is built at Gary-Chicago, officials envision South Shore trains directly serving the airport.

The new rail routing could be incorporated into long-range plans costing at least $1 billion to extend the South Shore Line to Lowell and Valparaiso, Ind. The Gary-Chicago link is tentatively projected to cost about $130 million...............
..

OhioGuy Feb 25, 2008 8:49 PM

Could they just build something like the AirTrain used in New York that connects both Newark and JFK airports to the rail network? Or would that be more costly than relocating the actual tracks further north?

VivaLFuego Feb 25, 2008 9:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OhioGuy (Post 3377488)
Could they just build something like the AirTrain used in New York that connects both Newark and JFK airports to the rail network? Or would that be more costly than relocating the actual tracks further north?

Probably alot more expensive than building a one-track spur off the main line and a flat junction.

jjk1103 Mar 1, 2008 4:28 AM

......I've been riding the Brown Line a few times just recently. I haven't ridden it in probably a year. .......it really seemed to be moving quite well (I'm making exceptions for the construction zones) ....the only two true slow zones that I saw was the curve just after Damen and the stretch around Division St....am I correct, or is this just wishful thinking on my part. ?

orulz Mar 1, 2008 8:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 3377548)
Probably alot more expensive than building a one-track spur off the main line and a flat junction.

I certainly don't know what their exact plans are, but I would speculate that it involves through tracks configuration rather a single track spur. First, because the cost estimate for the south shore connection is $130 million. A spur would probably cost a lot less than that. Second, because they want to incorporate an intercity train station into the complex as well.

There are two ways I can see that they might do this. Either relocate the South Shore line to the north of the airport, and build the new terminal close to where the existing one is, or relocate the South Shore Line immediately north of I-90, building a new terminal south of the runway.

ardecila Mar 2, 2008 5:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 3329701)
I have a question about the Orange/Yellow line extensions. Both are planned to service major shopping centers (Ford City/Old Orchard, respectively).

The Orange Line only was feasible because it used unused/lightly-used railroad right-of-way. However, the Chicago Belt Railroad (which is parallels at Midway) doesn't go all the way to Ford City, but turns off into the railyards near 68th Street. Would the Orange Line be extended over the railyards and onto its own right-of-way to bring it right into the mall parking lot?

Likewise, the old North Shore Line right-of-way is several blocks away from Old Orchard. I'm not sure I see the point of extending the line another mile if the station won't even be in the mall complex, and mall visitors face a long walk down narrow sidewalks on Golf through a low-density neighborhood. It would be far cheaper to do signalling upgrades and bus lanes on Skokie Boulevard to carry people to the mall, and those actually WOULD go directly to the mall itself; buses could drop people off right at the pedestrian entrances.

Both of these projects seem like really short extensions that are pointless without direct access to their respective malls. The Orange Line shouldn't be too hard to do properly; just build a bridge over the railyard, seize one or two industrial properties, and there's enough to build directly into Ford City.

The Yellow Line extension is more tricky; either you build a short subway under Lawler Avenue to a terminal on the site of Old Orchard's retention pond, or you build an elevated line to a terminal in the same location, thereby eviscerating a neighborhood.

I'm not sure anybody actually cares, since this is merely academic, but I was looking through the City of Skokie's website for renderings of the Oakton Station when I found a nice planning survey for both the new station and the Old Orchard extension. It included a nice little map of the possible alignments for the extension - many that I hadn't even considered, since I viewed Niles North High School as an immutable obstacle. But apparently they're supportive of the extension, which could mean the loss of several athletic facilities and some parking.

However, in a weird twist of fate, Westfield refuses to support any sort of extension that uses Old Orchard parking lots for a new station, despite the fact that they would receive the biggest benefit from the station.

Lastly, the document also included a study of various alignment types (at-grade, elevated, embankment, open cut, subway). Embankment and subway were pretty much eliminated at the beginning. At-grade was obviously the cheapest, but some obscure law might prevent the CTA from building a grade crossing at Dempster, leaving elevated and open cut. Those two options came out very similar in cost, surprisingly. Open cut would come out more favorably on an EIS because of reduced noise, but it presents challenges in terms of relocating underground utility lines.

I photoshopped the map to color-code each possibility. Option G is a one-track subway loop surrounding Niles North High School. Option F is just a weird "fishhook" shape. The study eliminated all alignments except A, E, and B.

http://img412.imageshack.us/img412/7...hardctaat6.jpg

youngregina Mar 2, 2008 7:07 AM

i would chose option A

ardecila Mar 2, 2008 7:42 AM

Option A is the simplest/cheapest, no doubt about that, but it doesn't go anywhere near Old Orchard Mall (which is right underneath the red "C"). From the station at the end of option A, riders would need to walk through a business park and across a busy highway interchange, then past a gas station and another office building to get to the mall, all along narrow sidewalks.

Mall workers might be willing to do that, but shoppers with heavy bags are not going to walk that far, especially in bad weather. Running the line to a station near the mall would allow both kinds of people to easily use the line.

OhioGuy Mar 2, 2008 7:49 AM

Great map, ardecila! I'd been curious as to potential routing ideas.

I like option B. It follows the right-of-way up to the Edens Expressway and then just follows alongside it briefly before curving slightly east toward the Old Orchard Shopping Center. Looking at Google maps, to me it seems as though there is some extra space between the high school and I-94 to squeeze in the track, especially if they do a single track for that final small portion of the route. Double tracking doesn't seem to be necessary once it gets up to the Edens since it's a small enough section of the route that schedules shouldn't overlap between trains arriving at Old Orchard & trains departing Old Orchard. And if the high school is supportive of the extension and willing to give up some space to make it happen, then I say definitely go with that route.

Option E would be my next choice as it's basically the same as B, just not with the slight eastward turn at the end. So instead of eating up the high school's parking lot, I guess they'd be able to keep a portion of it. The downside is that it's ever so slightly further away from the shopping center.

Option A would be my last choice as it would involve building a bridge over I-94. Plus having the station on the other side of the interstate would mean Old Orchard Shopping Center patrons would be stuck walking across the bridge over the very busy interstate. Not exactly an inviting thing to do.

Chicago Shawn Mar 2, 2008 7:07 PM

Nice work!

First off, Westfield is retarded. And seeing as they just removed parking to add stores, I guess they are willing to shrink the lot if it works in their favor. I guess they feel to the poor folks using the train won't spend as much as someone parking a car. Did they ever take into account the extra spending power a train provides when people can drive less? Idiots. Even Mall of America has a rail connection.

I say option A, with an additional station at Golf Road. The Golf Station will provide a slightly shorter and easier walk to the Mall and High School. The Old Orchard Station will provide service to the Old Orchard Woods office park, Bell+Howell Tower, a hotel, branch university and Optima Condos, which collectively have a high enough density to support a station at all times of the day. The "A" station would also be close enough to the Cook County Circuit Court to make the final leg of the trip on foot.

Any other alignment not only is more costly, but provides service almost exclusively to Old Orchard Mall, rather than the surroundings. A station at Golf Road, I believe would provide service to both.

youngregina Mar 2, 2008 9:02 PM

Could there not be a shuttle bus that could take you from old orchard mall to the old orchard rd. station.?? (in option A)

OhioGuy Mar 2, 2008 10:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by youngregina (Post 3390382)
Could there not be a shuttle bus that could take you from old orchard mall to the old orchard rd. station.?? (in option A)

People who weren't willing to take a bus there in the first place won't do so after spending the time sitting on the train to get to the area. Plus who wants to wait around for a shuttle bus that runs every now & then? I wouldn't. Placing the station on the other side of the interstate would mean people buying things would be stuck lugging their bags further to get to the train. It would also mean students taking the train to school would be stuck with a further walk as well. I really think the station needs to be on the east side of the interstate. Maybe to appease everyone, option E would be best? Placing it there puts it equal distance between the shopping center to the east, the office park to the west, and the residential area on the north side of Old Orchard Road. It also avoids the need to build a bridge across the Edens Expressway. Option A just places it in the middle of a nondescript office park with parking lots everywhere. It's not as convenient to the shopping center or to the more populated residential areas. As I said, option E places the station basically between everything.

ardecila Mar 3, 2008 12:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OhioGuy (Post 3390487)
It also avoids the need to build a bridge across the Edens Expressway.

There's already an underpass underneath the Edens that alignment A could use. The North Shore Line used to go from here all the way up to Milwaukee. Some pedestrian improvements (repaving/push-button signals) would need to be added along Old Orchard Road between the station and the mall.

I'm starting to like option E as well. The north parking lot for Niles North could be turned into an intermodal center/parking structure. The additional parking in the structure would offset the school's lost parking and provide a place for park'n'ride off the Edens. If the facility is big enough, I can see CTA introducing an express service directly to downtown.


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