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Busy Bee Sep 28, 2009 3:22 AM

Quote:

Meanwhile, until the widening of the Eisenhower moves forward, IDOT has budgeted $45.1 million to resurface it in 2010 from the Reagan to the Kennedy Expressway ( Interstate Highway 90/94).
I'm no transportation planner or a financial wunderkind, but does this sound like an efficient use of money if a billion dollar overhaul is just a few years down the road?

ardecila Sep 28, 2009 7:16 AM

About the interim resurfacing - I'm not sure whether it's good or bad. $45.1 million is about the same as the recent Edens resurfacing, both in total cost and in cost per mile. Fixing potholes is nice, but the cost to society in terms of additional congestion might vastly exceed the benefits of the project, especially if it is followed by a more total rebuild soon after. Then again, it seems that the more costly rebuild project will only start west of Central, whereas the cheaper resurfacing will cover the entire highway, including the parts within city limits... so the two projects would be complementary, not redundant.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Via Chicago (Post 4477968)
http://www.chicagotribune.com/busine...2989765.column


If this still entails demolishing entire city blocks in Forest Park, Oak Park, Chicago, etc...Im truly dead set against this.

I doubt it. From Mannheim to 1st Ave, there's already enough room to add lanes between the two frontage streets (Harrison and Bataan) but the grassy slopes would be turned into retaining walls. The only demolitions would be around exit ramps, where additional space would be needed. My guess is that some exits would be removed permanently and the remaining ones would be rebuilt with a higher capacity, possibly as SPUIs.

Through Forest Park and Oak Park, I'm assuming IDOT plans to take over some railroad land, either from CTA or CSX. CTA reserved space for express tracks back in the 50s, but has never used it. CSX owns the freight tracks (known as the Altenheim Subdivision) but virtually nobody uses them now that Canadian National has shifted their trains to the EJ&E in the outer suburbs.

Without too much costly construction, the freight line could be turned into a set of express and possibly HOT lanes between Central and Des Plaines. Really, all you'd have to do is rip up the rails and ties, level the gravel, and pour concrete over the top, as well as installing ramps at both ends.

I guarantee you that any demolition that takes place will be a few isolated parcels, and on the small scale that's being discussed, any historic structures can be re-located. The apartment blocks in Oak Park (which I assume are what you have in mind) are in no danger.

jpIllInoIs Sep 28, 2009 1:14 PM

I think your are on the money ardecila. The CSX rail is suddenly in play now that CN is moving their freight to the EJE. In fact the CREATE planners have cancelled all of the improvements scheduled for this track length section under the original CREATE plan. HOV lanes would be perfecvt for that stretch of road.

VivaLFuego Sep 28, 2009 2:38 PM

In the past, Chicago successfully fought off the feds trying to ram HOV lanes down our collective throats (particularly for the Kennedy reconstruction and a lesser extent the Stevenson reconstruction, but I assume the question came up for every other highway project as well), with the argument that it doesn't make sense to subsidize the cannibalization parallel rail transit service.

That said, I'd be fine if the added lanes are HOT lanes so they generate some revenue.

Via Chicago Sep 28, 2009 3:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 4478216)
I guarantee you that any demolition that takes place will be a few isolated parcels, and on the small scale that's being discussed, any historic structures can be re-located. The apartment blocks in Oak Park (which I assume are what you have in mind) are in no danger.

Yea, thats the general area Im thinking of. How do you see them adding another lane without taking that land, though? A lot of OP business located along the expressway were feeling pressure the last time this was brought up several years ago, some to the extent that they relocated. I dont see how anything has changed.

Haworthia Sep 28, 2009 3:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 4478216)
I guarantee you that any demolition that takes place will be a few isolated parcels, and on the small scale that's being discussed, any historic structures can be re-located. The apartment blocks in Oak Park (which I assume are what you have in mind) are in no danger.

I hope you are right. The Oak Park Conservatory is one of my favorite parts of Oak Park and I've heard it mentioned that this would have to be demolished if the expressway is widened.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3109/...6a1fb6c429.jpg
From "Men In Black" on flickr.

I know the expansion needs to be done; Austin to Manheim is such a bottle neck, but places like this are simply irreplaceable.

VivaLFuego Sep 28, 2009 4:07 PM

It generally seems doable without wanton acquisition assuming all parties (IDOT, USDOT, etc.) agree to exceptions to design standards through Oak Park. The one area of concern that I have trouble envisioning is right at Oak Park Avenue, where it's tricky to visualize how two lanes could be added without property acquisition on at least one side of the ROW, unless, again, the design standards are relaxed such that the expressway has no shoulders for a short stretch. Even with such design exceptions to save buildings, I'm not sure of the impact on ramp geometry for the interchange at Harlem 1/2 mile to the west - I assume the project would also seek to do anything possible to eliminate the left side ramps.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Busy Bee (Post 4477985)
I'm no transportation planner or a financial wunderkind, but does this sound like an efficient use of money if a billion dollar overhaul is just a few years down the road?

Since the project is still in preliminary engineering, it's unlikely major construction could start within the next 4 years anyway, and as others have pointed out, resurfacing from Austin to the Circle is warranted regardless and not part of the widening/reconstruction in the western portion. The flipside as ardec shrewdly notes is the cost imposed by any construction in terms of congestion and lost travel time - such impact will really depend on how they phase the construction. The pavement west of Harlem is in pretty rough shape and probably couldn't make it more than a few years anyway. Besides, using vaguely-planned-but-indefinite-and-unfunded-future-reconstruction as an excuse to defer maintenance usually results in negative outcomes, viz. many CTA stations (remember when Wilson was going to be rebuilt in the early 1990s, when Howard was going to be rebuilt in the mid-1980s, when Randolph/Wabash and State/Lake were going to be rebuilt any number of times over the past 25 years, etc.).

Anyone else notice how multiple agencies are conducting multiple planning studies in the same corridor? Whose project "wins" when it comes time for funding?

Chicago Shawn Sep 28, 2009 5:38 PM

Quote:

Eisenhower Expressway expansion project is the next big thing

About seven miles could get wider from Mannheim Road to Cicero Avenue

After promises for years that studies were in the works, preliminary engineering is finally under way for the Eisenhower Expressway expansion project, the next huge highway reconstruction planned for the Chicago area.

Several years of intensive planning, and more than $1 billion in cold cash, will get the job done.
Ridiculous. For that same $1+ Billion we could have the Blue Line extended way west of the current terminus. This widening will not do a damn thing to solve the congestion issue, it will only move a higher traffic volume further east where it will slam into circle interchange and cause even larger delays than what already occurs. Of course then come the cries to reconfigure Circle and spend another near $1 billion. Circle cannot occupy any larger of a footprint than it all ready has and any reconfigurations will require very costly relocation of bridges and construction of expensive flyover ramps.

I really hope demolitions in Oak Park can be kept to a minimum. I don't want to see one more inch of that community raped further by that open scar known as the Ike. I am not warm to the idea of possibility using the CSX right of way either, as this will shrink or eliminate a option for moving trains through our region, and freight traffic is still expected to grow significantly. We might really need those tracks in the future.

emathias Sep 28, 2009 9:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago Shawn (Post 4478671)
Ridiculous. For that same $1+ Billion we could have the Blue Line extended way west of the current terminus. This widening will not do a damn thing to solve the congestion issue, it will only move a higher traffic volume further east where it will slam into circle interchange and cause even larger delays than what already occurs. Of course then come the cries to reconfigure Circle and spend another near $1 billion. Circle cannot occupy any larger of a footprint than it all ready has and any reconfigurations will require very costly relocation of bridges and construction of expensive flyover ramps.
...

Actually, I think that once this is completed any cry for re-engineering of the Circle interchange could be deflected into a serious conversation about the Crosstown Expressway and/or transit line.

Attrill Sep 28, 2009 10:07 PM

Someone posting on Chicagobus.org has seen the new 5000 cars being delivered at the Skokie shops - hopefully we'll see them being tested soon!

Quote:

Dreyday -
Good eye. The first two prototype cars of the new 5000s were indeed delivered today. They will be tested extensively at Skokie, but probably won't go out onto the actual system until after the next pair arrives and is tested, and they can be sent out as a four-car consist.

ardecila Sep 28, 2009 10:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Via Chicago (Post 4478481)
Yea, thats the general area Im thinking of. How do you see them adding another lane without taking that land, though? A lot of OP business located along the expressway were feeling pressure the last time this was brought up several years ago, some to the extent that they relocated. I dont see how anything has changed.

The rail line is now in play. That's what has changed. Land acquisition from residents and small businesses is a very tricky game in today's courts, and it could lead to years of delay and millions in legal fees.

A major corporation like CSX, on the other hand, owns and must maintain a rail line that they don't use, and now nobody else will pay them to use it, either - CN was the only significant user of the line. It's a far better deal for CSX to just sell the line for cash - I would expect a major corporation to make rational decisions like this, unlike homeowners and small businesses who have emotional connections to their property. It's great in the long run - IDOT doesn't have to pay to reconstruct the complex rail bridge over the expressway just east of Des Plaines, and the rail line north of the Ike can be turned into a great trail linking Franklin Park and Oak Park/Forest Park.

Trust me, if there is an avenue by which IDOT can gain additional land without taking homes and businesses, they will make that choice.

ardecila Sep 28, 2009 10:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Attrill (Post 4479164)
Someone posting on Chicagobus.org has seen the new 5000 cars being delivered at the Skokie shops - hopefully we'll see them being tested soon!

Someone on that page mentioned that all the bells and whistles have been cut - these will basically just be 3200s with longitudinal seating. However, some other dude posted some grainy videos that show an incredibly smooth and quiet accel/deceleration - it reminded me of the DC Metro or Boston or something. I hope they perform that well on our crappy tracks. I also hope they go for a different paint scheme - or at least, some KIND of paint scheme. The stainless steel is about as timeless as it gets, but even it is beginning to get old. I'm actually happy when I see an ad-wrapped railcar, since it's so much more exciting and joyous than a standard one.

left of center Sep 29, 2009 12:06 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago Shawn (Post 4478671)
Of course then come the cries to reconfigure Circle and spend another near $1 billion. Circle cannot occupy any larger of a footprint than it all ready has and any reconfigurations will require very costly relocation of bridges and construction of expensive flyover ramps.

the Circle is in serious need of repair, though. After the I-35W collapse in Minneapolis, Popular Mechanics ran an article listing the ten most dilapidated pieces of infrastructure in the US, and the Circle not only made the list, but headlined it.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/tech...n/4257814.html

Mr Downtown Sep 29, 2009 4:37 AM

A picture of the 5000s posted by sprout78 at Chicagobus.org:

http://i36.tinypic.com/15x95dd.jpg

Chicago Shawn Sep 29, 2009 3:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by left of center (Post 4479394)
the Circle is in serious need of repair, though. After the I-35W collapse in Minneapolis, Popular Mechanics ran an article listing the ten most dilapidated pieces of infrastructure in the US, and the Circle not only made the list, but headlined it.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/tech...n/4257814.html

It certainly is, and its already handling traffic amounts exceeding the design capacity. Any more traffic volume heading to it will require a complete re-engineering of it during a rebuild, and with the land constraints that will probably mean a very expensive stack interchange with high flyover ramps. I"m sure it would look cool if something like that was built, but it will be very pricey.




Reminder....

Circle Line Alternatives Analysis Study - Screen 2 Analysis


Screen 3 Open House Presentations


The Chicago Transit Authority invites the public to open houses on preliminary Screen 3 findings and recommendation of a locally preferred alternative, which will conclude the Alternatives Analysis study for the Circle Line. Previously in Screen 1 and Screen 2 of the Alternatives Analysis study, CTA presented an assessment of transit improvement options which included a selection of transit vehicle types and potential corridors for a Circle Line.

The Screen 3 public open houses are scheduled as follows:

UIC Molecular Biology Research Building
900 S. Ashland Avenue
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Bucktown/Wicker Park Public Library
1701 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Benito Juarez Community Academy
2150 S. Laflin Street
Thursday, October 1, 2009
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Presentation will begin at 6:15pm. All venues are accessible to people with disabilities.
-------------------------------



I will be going to the meeting tonight and will report back the additional info.

VivaLFuego Sep 30, 2009 2:16 AM

Display boards for "Screen 3" of the Circle Line "Alternatives Analysis" are posted, with a "Locally Preferred Alternative":

http://www.transitchicago.com/assets...lay_Boards.pdf

Mr Downtown Sep 30, 2009 3:56 AM

^Hmmm. The Circle Line becomes the U Line.

http://i36.tinypic.com/2u5al41.png

schwerve Sep 30, 2009 4:10 AM

that's going to be phase 2.

http://www.chicago-l.org/plans/image...hasingPlan.jpg

no direct linking, copy and paste.

arenn Sep 30, 2009 4:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego (Post 4475629)
Based on that meeting, my ideal outcome at this point would be to eminent domain the school parking lot, bulldoze it, then just pull the plug on the entire project and sell the land for redevelopment specifying that the only allowable uses as part of a responsive bid to buy the land include an adult book superstore / strip club megaplex, halfway house, methadone clinic, or some combination thereof.

I realize you jest on this point, but if I'm not mistaken, they can't use federal funds to adversely affect school property, much less use eminent domain. It's a protected use.

Clearly, Old Orchard Mall is a more logical terminus than Niles North. It might not seems like a big deal, but that extra walk in not very pedestrian friendly conditions isn't good.

arenn Sep 30, 2009 4:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 4477413)
You think all is sweetness and light between the MTA and NYCTA?

It's the eternal battle between basing service levels on who's paying for it and basing service on who's using it. It's a constant battle, worldwide, and in each city the pendulum first swings one way, toward having a big unified agency, and then swings the other way, toward breaking it up into smaller operating agencies. Thirty years later, it swings back the other way.

One particular city I'm aware of that is studying a major transit expansion is evaluating an interesting notion I like a lot, if it is politically doable. Funding would be based on percentage of projected benefits regardless of where the transit service actually was. Turns out econometric analysis shows much of the benefit of transit actually accrues in places where there isn't much direct service.


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