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bnk Mar 15, 2009 6:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 4140046)
It's an FRA regulation that trains must sound their horns at every grade crossing. The regulations also specify that if certain steps are followed exactly, with certain types of signals and gates at every crossing, a municipality can request a "quiet zone" exemption.

Chicagoland has an exemption







FRA Decision to Exempt Chicago Area from Train Horn Rule

Flawed data allows communities to keep their quiet zones for the time being

Deerfield, IL - Congressman Mark Kirk (R-Highland Park) announced Friday the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) will be making an exception to the Chicago area when they publish their final rule regarding the use of train horns at railroad crossings. The rule will be published on April 27, 2005. FRA noted that much of the data collected for the Chicago area and the balance of Illinois were badly out of date and further inquiry was needed.

http://www.house.gov/list/press/il10...nhornrule.html





http://ncseonline.org/NLE/CRSreports/07May/RL33286.pdf

the urban politician Mar 15, 2009 10:22 PM

According to the Transport Politic, here is a (as of yet incomplete) breakdown of how Chicago will be using its transit funds from the Stimulus package:

Chicago
Line Improvements
$166 million for infrastructure renewal program (CTA)
$5 million for signal upgrades (CTA)
$111 million for bridge upgrades (Metra)
$7 million for new signals (CTA)
Station Improvements
$2.5 million for rail station upgrades (CTA)
$2.5 million for facility upgrades (CTA)
$6.8 million for new 35th St Station (Metra)
$2.5 million for station upgrades (Metra)
$31 million for station improvements and parking (Metra)
Vehicles
$55 million for new buses (CTA)
$5 million for bus overhauls (CTA)
$7 million for rail overhauls (CTA)
$34 million for new paratransit vehicles (Pace)
$29 million for new buses (Pace)
$2 million for non-revenue vehicles (Pace)
$1.5 million for new vans (Pace)
$71 million for rail overhauls (Metra)
$2 million for railcar improvements (Metra)
Preventative Maintenance
$80 million for preventative maintenance (CTA)

the urban politician Mar 15, 2009 10:51 PM

Just perusing the Transport Politic's website, it appears that Chicago is one of the only major cities not actively building any new transit lines or major stations:

http://thetransportpolitic.com/under-construction/

So how much longer are we going to keep dreaming about the Olympics instead of just planning for the future? The way I see it, it's too bad the IOC is deciding in October, because the sooner Chicago finds out whether or not it's getting the Olympics, the sooner it can move forward on some of these projects without them having to be in the context of some dreamy Olympics funding windfall.

Obama is putting the money out there now, so what are we all waiting for?

Finally: am I the only one who thinks that Millennium Park station and Union Station should be connected by an underground rail link?

bnk Mar 15, 2009 11:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 4141882)
Just perusing the Transport Politic's website, it appears that Chicago is one of the only major cities not actively building any new transit lines:

http://thetransportpolitic.com/under-construction/

So how much longer are we going to keep dreaming about the Olympics instead of just planning for the future? The way I see it, it's too bad the IOC is deciding in October, because the sooner Chicago finds out whether or not it's getting the Olympics, the sooner it can move forward on some of these projects without them having to be in the context of some Olympics funding windfall.


From what I know... the CTA and Metra's expansion plans rely on extending their current lines further into the inner burbs for the CTA or into the Exurbs for Metra.

As far as new lines are concerned the last new Metra line was added was to Antioch around 5 years or so ago.

I am ok with just extending the already extensive lines. But if the Chicago area really wants to improve intercity transport the CTA in particular really needs to eliminate the slow zones and the Metra could add the bar car back.;)

the urban politician Mar 15, 2009 11:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bnk (Post 4141888)
From what I know... the CTA and Metra's expansion plans rely on extending their current lines further into the inner burbs for the CTA or into the Exurbs for Metra.

As far as new lines are concerned the last new Metra line was added was to Antioch around 5 years or so ago.

I am ok with just extending the already extensive lines. But if the Chicago area really wants to improve intercity transport the CTA in particular really needs to eliminate the slow zones and the Metra could add the bar car back.;)

^ I'm not disagreeing, but I think line extensions would also be included in the link I provided above. Chicago has 3 planned line extensions (CTA) and another few for Metra, none of which are happening. It's got a half-finished superstation at Block 37, dreamy thoughts of airport express routes, and plans for a West Loop Transportation Center that seem to be sitting on the drawing board.

The BRT project was lost, and now there's a wimpy earmark for a line whose route hasn't even been determined (Circle Line). So far, a D- performance, guys.

Not only is this the most pro-transit Presidential administration in the past half-century, but it's made up ENTIRELY OF CHICAGOANS. Who needs the damn Olympics? Just get these projects going NOW, when will there be another chance like this one? I'm pretty sure that after 8 years of Obama (hopefully), the Republicans will have gotten their act together and plant somebody in office who will bring transit funding to a grinding HALT. Seriously, the only reason I have ever given even one tenth of a shit about the Olympics was due to the prospect of transit funding.

But with Obama, Biden, Emmanuel, Durbin, and LaHood steering this ship, Chicago has already won the transit-funding equivalent of the Olympics, hasn't it? Toss the bid-book into the trash and let the Games go to Rio! Roll up your sleeves, Daley, and get some projects going now while you can.

Abner Mar 15, 2009 11:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 4141895)
Roll up your sleeves, Daley, and get some projects going now while you can.

Not to beat a dead horse, but I'll ask again: what has Daley ever done that suggests that he gives two shits about expanding public transit in Chicago?

schwerve Mar 15, 2009 11:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 4141895)
^ I'm not disagreeing, but I think line extensions would also be included in the link I provided above. Chicago has 3 planned line extensions (CTA) and another few for Metra, none of which are happening. It's got a half-finished superstation at Block 37, dreamy thoughts of airport express routes, and plans for a West Loop Transportation Center that seem to be sitting on the drawing board.

The BRT project was lost, and now there's a wimpy earmark for a line whose route hasn't even been determined (Circle Line). So far, a D- performance, guys.

Not only is this the most pro-transit Presidential administration in the past half-century, but it's made up ENTIRELY OF CHICAGOANS. Who needs the damn Olympics? Just get these projects going NOW, when will there be another chance like this one? I'm pretty sure that after 8 years of Obama (hopefully), the Republicans will have gotten their act together and plant somebody in office who will bring transit funding to a grinding HALT. Seriously, the only reason I have ever given even one tenth of a shit about the Olympics was due to the prospect of transit funding.

But with Obama, Biden, Emmanuel, Durbin, and LaHood steering this ship, Chicago has already won the transit-funding equivalent of the Olympics, hasn't it? Toss the bid-book into the trash and let the Games go to Rio! Roll up your sleeves, Daley, and get some projects going now while you can.

I completely disagree chicago SHOULD NOT be expanding its transit infrastructure at the current moment, any money appropriated needs to go directly into fixing the issues in the current system as opposed to expanding it. Its not that I don't think the system deserves expansion in areas but in terms of priorities the current system still needs 6 billion dollars to get to a state of good repair. I love the idea of a clinton larabee subway but I love the idea of new trainsets and upgraded subway stations much much much more. Unfortunately the money doesn't exist to do both, until we get a good handle on some of the issues in the existing system we shouldn't be breaking ground on new projects.

Chicago Shawn Mar 15, 2009 11:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 4141895)
^ I'm not disagreeing, but I think line extensions would also be included in the link I provided above. Chicago has 3 planned line extensions (CTA) and another few for Metra, none of which are happening. It's got a half-finished superstation at Block 37, dreamy thoughts of airport express routes, and plans for a West Loop Transportation Center that seem to be sitting on the drawing board.

The BRT project was lost, and now there's a wimpy earmark for a line whose route hasn't even been determined (Circle Line). So far, a D- performance, guys.

Not only is this the most pro-transit Presidential administration in the past half-century, but it's made up ENTIRELY OF CHICAGOANS. Who needs the damn Olympics? Just get these projects going NOW, when will there be another chance like this one? I'm pretty sure that after 8 years of Obama (hopefully), the Republicans will have gotten their act together and plant somebody in office who will bring transit funding to a grinding HALT. Seriously, the only reason I have ever given even one tenth of a shit about the Olympics was due to the prospect of transit funding.

But with Obama, Biden, Emmanuel, Durbin, and LaHood steering this ship, Chicago has already won the transit-funding equivalent of the Olympics, hasn't it? Toss the bid-book into the trash and let the Games go to Rio! Roll up your sleeves, Daley, and get some projects going now while you can.

First off, none of the line extensions are defined as "shovel ready", a requirement to receive Stimulus Funds. All of the plans need to complete the alternative analysis process and environmental impact studies before any federal funding can be awarded, allowing construction contracts to go out to bid. CTA needs a lot of differed maintenance taken care of, and that is what the current funds are helping with. The new transportation bill will be brought before congress this fall, and with a lot of much needed highway maintenance now being taken care of, perhaps more money will be available for transit.

Third, if Chicago should be awarded the games, the Obama administration now has a compelling reason to send additional funds directly to Chicago, without it being viewed as pork; because the Olympics are an international event on the national spotlight. There are many plans on the books now which have had various amounts of study and engineering work done. If we get the green light for the Olympics, then we can just say here, this is what we would like to do and is ready to go. Give us the funds, and we can fast track it to construction (no pun intended).

Chicago Shawn Mar 15, 2009 11:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Abner (Post 4141906)
Not to beat a dead horse, but I'll ask again: what has Daley ever done that suggests that he gives two shits about expanding public transit in Chicago?

Daley personally said to Bush that Chicago needs a new rail line to the west of downtown to help with the Olympics. Whether that was the Circle Line, Mid-City or the Clinton-Larabee; I do not know. Daley has also pushed for the Carroll Avenue Transit way (under study and engineering work by CDOT), promoted the idea of adopting BRT on varrious city streets, and was a pusher for the distributor LRT system for downtown back in the '90s, which was latter killed. I think that was because the state wouldn't provide matching funds under Jim Edger, but I can not be sure about that.

CDOT has also been refurbishing subway stations one at a time. City of Chicago owns the subway tubes, while the rest of the system is owned by CTA.

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.

I am going to go ahead and speculate that Daley is ridding on the Olympics to give us a coupon on transit expansion. Should we not get the games, lets see if a push to grab transit funds is put forth, I certainly hope so.

the urban politician Mar 15, 2009 11:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by schwerve (Post 4141914)
I completely disagree chicago SHOULD NOT be expanding its transit infrastructure at the current moment, any money appropriated needs to go directly into fixing the issues in the current system as opposed to expanding it. Its not that I don't think the system deserves expansion in areas but in terms of priorities the current system still needs 6 billion dollars to get to a state of good repair. I love the idea of a clinton larabee subway but I love the idea of new trainsets and upgraded subway stations much much much more. Unfortunately the money doesn't exist to do both, until we get a good handle on some of the issues in the existing system we shouldn't be breaking ground on new projects.

^ Why can't both be done?

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.

denizen467 Mar 18, 2009 3:22 AM

Metra's SouthWest line begins Saturday runs

Metra's SouthWest Service will begin operating on Saturdays this weekend -- with three round-trips a day. Three trains will leave Manhattan for Union Station at 6:15 a.m., 11 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. Saturdays, with return trips at 1:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. It will be the first Saturday service on the line since Metra took over operations in 1993.

Metra also will expand weekday service next Monday, allowing an early afternoon train to stop at the last two stops on the line. Commuters from New Lenox and Manhattan who come downtown in the morning can leave downtown at 12:35 p.m., instead of waiting until 5 p.m.

http://www.suntimes.com/news/transpo...ide16b.article

Busy Bee Mar 18, 2009 3:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MayorOfChicago (Post 4146058)
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.

Wrong thread.http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/images/smilies/wink.gif

Chicago3rd Mar 18, 2009 3:51 AM

^^Wallstreet blew up that myth of "financial responsibility".

The problem is not enough spending is happening....and that is killing us.

Your points are great about why we didn't spend the money when things were better.....and we need to remember that when things do get better and start supporting our infrastructure through good and bad times.

MayorOfChicago Mar 18, 2009 6:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Busy Bee (Post 4146097)

.

Why? We've been talking transit funding for YEARS on this forum - and how the CTA/PACE/Metra always get bread crumbs thrown at them.

Now we're suddenly being given billions of dollars falling from the sky, and we need to find the best use. I think people really need to focus on how we're going to be sitting operationally when the dust has settled. Most of the work seems to be on updating the infrastructure and patching back together parts of the system. I would hope this would save on operational funds in the future. If the stimulus money is being spent expansions or new projects, do they have something in place that will fund those projects two...four...ten years from now? I don't want to see doomsdays become more and more frequent because we have a nice new system and new options, but still can't get funding for day to day operations worked out.

In the end it's still unsettling that we finally get all this funding for transit, but we seem to be jumping off the debt cliff to get it.

Abner Mar 18, 2009 6:42 PM

I think the main problem with the stimulus funding for CTA is that it was passed before the RTA discovered its catastrophic budget shortfall--you know, the one nobody seems to be talking about even though it's the biggest one yet by far. Now the RTA should have seen it coming when they're funded by probably the most procyclical taxes that exist, but oh well, they didn't, the stimulus funding that we have is for new projects and not maintaining operations, and we're going to have to get another injection of cash to keep the CTA running with its current service levels and fares.

Busy Bee Mar 18, 2009 10:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MayorOfChicago (Post 4147075)
.

Why? We've been talking transit funding for YEARS on this forum - and how the CTA/PACE/Metra always get bread crumbs thrown at them.

Now we're suddenly being given billions of dollars falling from the sky, and we need to find the best use. I think people really need to focus on how we're going to be sitting operationally when the dust has settled. Most of the work seems to be on updating the infrastructure and patching back together parts of the system. I would hope this would save on operational funds in the future. If the stimulus money is being spent expansions or new projects, do they have something in place that will fund those projects two...four...ten years from now? I don't want to see doomsdays become more and more frequent because we have a nice new system and new options, but still can't get funding for day to day operations worked out.

In the end it's still unsettling that we finally get all this funding for transit, but we seem to be jumping off the debt cliff to get it.

It was sarcastic dude, relax.

spyguy Mar 19, 2009 12:26 AM

http://www.chicagobusiness.com/cgi-b...gobusiness.com

Another Illinoisan gets top Obama transit gig
Posted by Greg H. at 3/18/2009 4:50 PM CDT


...The president on Thursday announced his intent to nominate former Riverdale mayor Joe Szabo to be administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration.

FRA is one of the operating units within the U.S. Department of Transportation. It supervises and funds surface railroads and related activities, including Amtrak. Mr. Szabo, now state director for the United Transportation Union, would rule on local funding requests for the Create freight-railroad bypass sytem and to develop high-speed rail passenger service here.

"Joe Szabo is uniquely qualified," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Il., said in a statement. "Five generations of his family have worked on the railroad, and he has worked as a yard switchman, road trainman and commuter passenger conductor."

bnk Mar 19, 2009 12:37 AM

:previous: Good news about the funding prospects for CREATE






http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/c...,5818031.story


Quinn supports 3rd Chicago airport

Associated Press

4:12 PM CDT, March 18, 2009

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.

Gov. Pat Quinn's renewed commitment to building a third airport near Chicago earned praise Wednesday from lawmakers in Illinois and Washington.

"We will build a third airport in the south suburbs of Chicago and we will build it as fast as humanly possible," Quinn said during his budget address at the state Capitol.

Quinn said the airport -- talked about for years -- is part of much-needed economic development efforts around the state. .

The proposed Will County airport has been a pet project of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who created the Abraham Lincoln National Airport Commission to bring the airport to an area near Peotone. Chicago's two other airports are Midway and O'Hare.

"This is a promising step forward for the Illinois economy. ... It would create thousands of jobs and generate billions of dollars for our state," Jackson said in a statement.

Last year, state officials submitted updated plans to the Federal Aviation Administration for the airport. The state has been buying land for the project, but it's unclear when it will be built.

The Illinois Department of Transportation has said the airport would create 9,700 jobs within five years after it opens.

jpIllInoIs Mar 19, 2009 3:43 AM

This is huge, a guy who understands the importance of the CREATE program in Chicago, and that the program goals will benefit the entire natiion for freight and passenger rail movement.


Quote:

Originally Posted by spyguy (Post 4147744)
http://www.chicagobusiness.com/cgi-b...gobusiness.com

Another Illinoisan gets top Obama transit gig
Posted by Greg H. at 3/18/2009 4:50 PM CDT


...The president on Thursday announced his intent to nominate former Riverdale mayor Joe Szabo to be administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration.

Mr. Szabo, now state director for the United Transportation Union, would rule on local funding requests for the Create freight-railroad bypass sytem and to develop high-speed rail passenger service here.
"


nomarandlee Mar 19, 2009 5:55 AM

Will all the indirect references to the CREATE projects lately I almost would be shocked if it didn't get a major attention by the feds in the next few years also given the Illinoisan's in high positions are assuredly familiar with it. It would benefit too many regions, communities, and transportation types not to go through I would think.

........As for Peotone, ugghh. If the ME were extended I guess it wouldn't be that bad but man I wish Gary and Indiana had a spur under the arse to beat our state to the punch. Why Indiana officials don't seem more inclined to recognize the best and perhaps last chance to uplift the most draining part of their state I don't understand.

the urban politician Mar 19, 2009 2:11 PM

More great news from the CTA..
 
Ahhh, it never ends. Great job, Daley. Just keep blaming the cold weather and the age of the system. Mayor for life, right? :rolleyes:

CTA slow zones: More CTA trains are going slower than last year
Old tracks and rough winter weather are blamed for slow zones

By Jon Hilkevitch | Tribune reporter
March 19, 2009
CTA trains are again operating at lower speeds over more track because of an increase in potentially unsafe conditions, a discouraging about-face for a transit agency that has worked hard for more than a year redirecting limited funds to reduce slow zones.

About 19 miles of track are under slow-zone orders, according to the latest CTA Rail Customer Impact Map. That's up from 15 miles systemwide in December. It marks the first setback since an effort to get rid of slow zones began in late 2007.

The CTA operates 224 miles of track over eight rail lines. A project to replace rotted rail ties and rusty tracks reduced slow zones from 23 percent of total trackage in October 2007 to 7 percent in December 2008. Since then, slow zones have crept up to more than 8 percent today.

CTA officials said it remains their goal to eliminate slow zones, which rank as the No. 1 complaint among train customers. Although the total cost for the budgeted slow zone repairs is $321.5 million, money is not available for additional work, officials said. And if state and federal capital funding is not approved soon, slow zones would inevitably increase.

The Purple Line/Evanston Express currently has the highest percentage of slow zones, almost one-fourth of the total trackage on the line, while the stretch of the Blue Line between O'Hare International Airport and Logan Square has seen the largest reduction in slow zones, from 35 percent in late 2007 to about 6 percent now.

Transit agency officials said there is no lack of commitment to wipe out slow zones. Rather, the work was put mostly on hold over the winter because of tough weather conditions, they said.

The erosion of ballast that helps secure the track was responsible for a spike in slow zones this year on the Congress branch of the Blue Line to Forest Park and the Dan Ryan branch of the Red Line to 95th Street, officials said.

Slow zones more than doubled to 13 percent this month from 5 percent in November on the Congress branch, according to CTA records. On the Dan Ryan Red Line, slow zones grew to 14 percent this month from 9 percent in November. The CTA is using money from the federal stimulus to cut slow zones over about 36,000 feet of track in the Blue Line Dearborn subway.

MayorOfChicago Mar 19, 2009 2:35 PM

Maybe if the trains get slow enough everyone can just walk alongside them and push. Think how much we could save on electricity if we could just shut it off. Then could have drawings every week for who can yell out "This is Fullerton. Transfer for Purple and Brown Line trains at Fullerton. This is a Red Line train to 95th. Doors closing."

My favorite would be "This is Clark and Lake. Transfer for Orange, Green, Brown, Pink and Purple Line trains....the Thompson Center...and City Hall at Clark and Lake. This is a Party Train to Yo Mamma's House"......" "Yo Mamma's House is next....doors open on the right at Yo Mamma's House. Transfer for Gonorrhea, Clymedia and Crabs at Yo Mamma's House".

then do a "BEEP BEEP BEEP.....Your attention please. We are being delayed because crews are workin Yo Mamma ahead. We regret this inconvenience, and expect to be moving shortly."

Chicago Shawn Mar 19, 2009 3:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 4143166)
^ 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.


And how long where those line extensions planned? 2nd Avenue subway in NYC has been on a construction hold since the 1970's. Wilshire Blvd Red Line was put on hold in the '90s. Right now Chicago has 4 heavy rail studies active: Circle, Red Extension, Yellow Extension and the Orange Extension. These studies to actual construction take about 8-10 years, should we even secure the funds after the studies are completed. The Carrol Avenue transitway is also under study in-house by CDOT. If we want federal money to help build something, then we have to play ball with the alternative analysis program. It takes time, and then we have to fight for the funds. The Bush administration has not been very helpful to this process, even downgrading two significant transit projects in DC and Miami which had put them on hold. The state recently with Blago has been unable to fund any sort of transportation project with the lack of a capitol spending bill. We also, as Viva mentioned, have received a disproportionate amount of New Starts money in recent years as a result of successful lobbying under Kuresi, despite him being as bad as he was at managing the system. So, if we we are to build a new transit line on the spot, then we would have to fund it internally. So if the city has .5-1 billion just lying around, then sure. I suppose one of the privatization leases could take care of that; that is if we didn't have other city needs which have to be funded. Can't you imagine the political outrage that would spout from having low-income programs cut, while a subway is tunneled to Navy Pier through a very wealthy neighborhood? Then again, Daley is good at doing things that generate political outrage.

Age of the system is a factor we must deal with. That alone sucks up a lot of money. It may not be sexy like building a brand new LRT system as the cities down south or out west are doing, but we are spending just as much money, if not more than they are on capitol improvements. On the cold weather, well most of this track work occurs over night, and it was VERY cold here this winter, some nights approaching -20F, not including windchill. This also takes a toll on the system which is outdoors and exposed to the elements. Subways have the advantage of being naturally "climate controlled" by way of being subterranean.

I do believe Daley is pretty passionate about CTA funding here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ashM23pslk

I am not saying more couldn't be done from the Mayor's office. I am just saying that public transit is a complicated issue, and that we really have received a good amount of capitol funding for the system in recent years. I don't think its accurate to say Daley just doesn't care about it. The stars are aligning right now in Washington, so lets be patient. If we loose the Olympics and there is no further push to receive more money for transit, then yes I will be on the bull horn as well. You know how I can blow my top, I have vented on this forum quite often in the past. But for now, lets save the fiscal poker chips for the best hand. The Olympics would be a royal flush.

Chicago Shawn Mar 19, 2009 3:33 PM

On Peotone, wow that is bad news. With the state as broke as it is right now, one would think this expensive project would be shelved, especially since the state will be shouldering the cost.

Taft Mar 19, 2009 3:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 4148665)
Ahhh, it never ends. Great job, Daley. Just keep blaming the cold weather and the age of the system. Mayor for life, right? :rolleyes:

CTA slow zones: More CTA trains are going slower than last year
Old tracks and rough winter weather are blamed for slow zones

By Jon Hilkevitch | Tribune reporter
March 19, 2009
CTA trains are again operating at lower speeds over more track because of an increase in potentially unsafe conditions, a discouraging about-face for a transit agency that has worked hard for more than a year redirecting limited funds to reduce slow zones.

About 19 miles of track are under slow-zone orders, according to the latest CTA Rail Customer Impact Map. That's up from 15 miles systemwide in December. It marks the first setback since an effort to get rid of slow zones began in late 2007.

...

Transit agency officials said there is no lack of commitment to wipe out slow zones. Rather, the work was put mostly on hold over the winter because of tough weather conditions, they said.

...

OK, i know it is becoming increasingly popular to blame Daley for every little thing, but are you really saying this is unreasonable? It would make sense to me that replacing ties and ballasts on open-air tracks would at the very least slow down considerably during the winter. And if the agency is looking at this from a cost savings perspective, it would seem smart to wait for better weather to maximize the benefits of paying for track repair work.

I think everyone needs to take a step back and wait to see how the money coming into the system is spent. We've got stimulus money coming in which will mostly be dedicated to maintaining the existing system. We've got a capital bill at the state level being pushed for hard by Gov. Quinn which will hopefully ensure that basic track maintenance doesn't go unfunded. And the local transit leaders are obviously making maintenance a very high priority right now.

Chicago Shawn Mar 19, 2009 3:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by denizen467 (Post 4146060)
Metra's SouthWest line begins Saturday runs

Metra's SouthWest Service will begin operating on Saturdays this weekend -- with three round-trips a day. Three trains will leave Manhattan for Union Station at 6:15 a.m., 11 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. Saturdays, with return trips at 1:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. It will be the first Saturday service on the line since Metra took over operations in 1993.

Metra also will expand weekday service next Monday, allowing an early afternoon train to stop at the last two stops on the line. Commuters from New Lenox and Manhattan who come downtown in the morning can leave downtown at 12:35 p.m., instead of waiting until 5 p.m.

http://www.suntimes.com/news/transpo...ide16b.article

That is awesome news. I know some folks in Palos Park who must be ecstatic over this announcement. I might take a trip on it this weekend just for the occasion. Perhaps I'll take a bike ride through the Will County countryside, the weather is supposed to be pretty nice Saturday afternoon.

Attrill Mar 19, 2009 5:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Taft (Post 4148837)
OK, i know it is becoming increasingly popular to blame Daley for every little thing, but are you really saying this is unreasonable? It would make sense to me that replacing ties and ballasts on open-air tracks would at the very least slow down considerably during the winter. And if the agency is looking at this from a cost savings perspective, it would seem smart to wait for better weather to maximize the benefits of paying for track repair work.

I think everyone needs to take a step back and wait to see how the money coming into the system is spent. We've got stimulus money coming in which will mostly be dedicated to maintaining the existing system. We've got a capital bill at the state level being pushed for hard by Gov. Quinn which will hopefully ensure that basic track maintenance doesn't go unfunded. And the local transit leaders are obviously making maintenance a very high priority right now.

Exactly. I'm not sure why anyone would get overly upset about a slight increase in slow zones after a rough winter. From the Tib article:
Quote:

A project to replace rotted rail ties and rusty tracks reduced slow zones from 23 percent of total trackage in October 2007 to 7 percent in December 2008. Since then, slow zones have crept up to more than 8 percent today.
a 1% increase over the winter isn't a big deal, especially after 16% reduction in the previous year.

emathias Mar 20, 2009 12:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Attrill (Post 4149052)
Exactly. I'm not sure why anyone would get overly upset about a slight increase in slow zones after a rough winter. From the Tib article:


a 1% increase over the winter isn't a big deal, especially after 16% reduction in the previous year.

It went from a low of 6.8% to 8.4%, so it was more than 1 percentage point, although I concede your point that it doesn't seem that big.

But that's over all. Taking a closer look, the Blue Line jumped from 3.5% to 8.1%, again not horrible compared to past states, but I'm still surprised that even 3.5% is considered "good." Imagine the uproar if the highway between downtown and Schaumburg, when things were really good, had over a mile and a half (3% of the round trip distance) of roadway spread across patches where there were "Road Work - Slow Zone" signs up, strictly enforced. If that was the standard state for that highway, heads would roll. But at the CTA, we're like, "Oh, 3.5%, that's so much better I can't complain." Even the 6.8% (that'd be like 3 miles of constant roadwork on the way to Schaumburg) is hard to accept when compared to other modes of transport. The two trunk lines - the Red and Blue - are averaging 10% slow. That's just absurd. I think a good system-wide average max would be 5%, with any branch exceeding 10% constituting a maintenance emergency.

Right now, even if we ignore the Purple Line as just being ridiculously ignored, the rest of the system still averages 6.6% slow - and that's with three lines being essentially 15 or fewer years old (Green rebuilt, Pink rebuilt, Orange new just over 15 years ago), and the Dan Ryan, State Street subway and O'Hare branches having significant recent track work. It astounds me how far it's gone and how accepting we are of that.

the urban politician Mar 20, 2009 1:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago Shawn (Post 4148816)
I do believe Daley is pretty passionate about CTA funding here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ashM23pslk

^ Yeah, that's a classic piece of Daley at his best, no denying it.

Shawn, I remember a while back you said you met Daley and spoke to him about transit issues in person. While I have nothing else but to take your word for it, I'm still having some major doubts.

We'll see..

Abner Mar 20, 2009 1:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 4149795)
Right now, even if we ignore the Purple Line as just being ridiculously ignored, the rest of the system still averages 6.6% slow - and that's with three lines being essentially 15 or fewer years old (Green rebuilt, Pink rebuilt, Orange new just over 15 years ago), and the Dan Ryan, State Street subway and O'Hare branches having significant recent track work. It astounds me how far it's gone and how accepting we are of that.

I haven't heard anybody ask yet why the Dan Ryan Red Line is 14% slow when the line was just redone. It crawls all the way from Cermak to 35th. Same with the Dearborn Subway, I thought they had just gotten done fixing things down there. Is there a good explanation?

Also remember that 8.4% of the system being slow zoned means you spend a lot more than 8.4% of your time in a slow zone.


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