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the urban politician Dec 19, 2011 6:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by M II A II R II K (Post 5521839)
Will Rahm Emanuel Show America What BRT Can Do?


December 19, 2011

By Ben Schulman

Read More: http://dc.streetsblog.org/2011/12/19...at-brt-can-do/






With Mayor Rahm Emanuel signaling a commitment to high-performance bus rapid transit, the Chicago-based nonprofit Metropolitan Planning Council envisions a 95-mile BRT network that would carry an additional 71,000 daily riders.

http://dc.streetsblog.org/wp-content...12/MPC_BRT.jpg

^ I gleamed through the study, and it is very interesting, but I have 2 reservations:

1. I'm not convinced that improving transit will go very far in promoting infill development in many areas of the south side, as mentioned in Chicago's BRT study. Just looking at the fields of grass surrounding south side Green Line L stops pretty much backs up my assumption. I think gangs, violence, and drugs kind of hold most of these areas from redevelopment. Having a fancy BRT route, even one that is well implemented, may certainly improve ridership and connectivity, but I don't see a lot of infill happening until the whole gang/drug thing is solved. That is why I am disappointed to see that so many of the BRT routes are in those areas of the city.

2. Will the city do anything to addess zoning along these BRT routes? If I can still build a strip mall next to a BRT station, then what's the point of all of this investment? I especially am targeting Western Ave, which already has been pockmarked with strip centers, auto dealerships, and large parking lots.

M II A II R II K Dec 19, 2011 7:45 PM

Laying track down has more of a sense of permanence to it and more likely to attract transit prompted development.

ardecila Dec 19, 2011 7:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 5521913)
^ I gleamed through the study, and it is very interesting, but I have 2 reservations:

1. I'm not convinced that improving transit will go very far in promoting infill development in many areas of the south side, as mentioned in Chicago's BRT study. Just looking at the fields of grass surrounding south side Green Line L stops pretty much backs up my assumption. I think gangs, violence, and drugs kind of hold most of these areas from redevelopment. Having a fancy BRT route, even one that is well implemented, may certainly improve ridership and connectivity, but I don't see a lot of infill happening until the whole gang/drug thing is solved. That is why I am disappointed to see that so many of the BRT routes are in those areas of the city.

2. Will the city do anything to addess zoning along these BRT routes? If I can still build a strip mall next to a BRT station, then what's the point of all of this investment? I especially am targeting Western Ave, which already has been pockmarked with strip centers, auto dealerships, and large parking lots.

Look at it from a political perspective. It's best if all demographics are behind Emanuel's transportation agenda. If you look at some of the BRT lines as the political price for support, then it's a pretty low price relative to expensive rail.

Plus, the BRT lines have a regional impact. Imagine the benefits that would accrue from a rapid bus connection between Hyde Park and Midway, for example. The South Side contains 2/3 of the city's land area and many strong neighborhoods. Connecting those isolated areas of strength can only benefit the South Side.

nomarandlee Dec 21, 2011 8:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5518764)
Yea, the same stuff I garnered from the animated GIF they had a few weeks ago.

One new thing is that the city is considering adding new tracks under Canal instead of Clinton. Adding intercity or regional trains under Canal with CTA under Clinton may be cheaper than the crazy 4-level WLTC concept under Clinton. It could greatly simplify junctions and underground clearance issues. Plus, it would divorce the Clinton Street Subway from the expansion of Union Station, allowing them to be funded separately.

Just a few questions on the Union Station redevelopment. Redistributing the lines from the WLTC to go under Canal and Clinto does sound like a much better option to me.

However if the plans to go down the Canal/Clinton route were set forth then would that essentially put the 222 Riverside tear down out of play or would there still be a push to redevelop the 222 Riverside with through tracks? If it was still in play then I'm a bit confused why there would be the need to also put HSR/regional tracks under Canal Street.

johnnygosox Dec 21, 2011 9:14 PM

No well ever runs dry...just an Old Wives Tale!!!
 
Yep Ardecila...... a terrible prospect looms before us when the money actually used by our omniscient government is finally not borrowed and printed. By the way....the "well" is dried up and empty.....the hacks and incompetents in Washington just haven't got the memo yet. Don't worry.....they'll be just fine but I worry a bit about you and me. We need to be more self sufficient in terms of our needs.......city needs that is.

Mr Downtown Dec 22, 2011 5:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nomarandlee (Post 5524742)
However if the plans to go down the Canal/Clinton route were set forth then would that essentially put the 222 Riverside tear down out of play or would there still be a push to redevelop the 222 Riverside with through tracks?

I don't know of any connection between the two. The city is interested in a WLTC that was first talked about for Clinton and now for Canal. Meanwhile, a group of railfans with no power to do anything had a rendering prepared of a rebuilt Union Station concourse with no 222.

ardecila Dec 22, 2011 7:31 AM

I'm envisioning Union Station remaining as the preferred location for intercity and "standard" commuter trains, with the under-Canal tracks reserved for a new class of regional trains running through downtown, like Paris' RER. Such trains would make all local stops out to the 355 ring, while Metra would continue to operate push-pull trains as express service to the outer suburbs.

This is veering into fantasy territory, but later phases of the Chicago RER could connect Millennium, Water Tower, and Clybourn, with the St Charles Air Line seeing some service as well. If you route the lines correctly you can connect every suburban line to every major downtown destination and employment node with at most one transfer.

jpIllInoIs Dec 22, 2011 2:54 PM

^
I would add a connection to Ohare to that fantasy list. The ROW exists and is plenty wide. Add Ohare express service on the new thru tracks at CUS and you can have 1/2 hourly service from Millenium; McMk place and CUS direct to Ohare. Along with a short extension of the ppl mover to either the existing transfer station or to a the existing Rosemont Metra Station on Balmoral St and you have some direct O'hare service from the Loop which I venture would be far cheaper and faster to implement than any Blue Line express that involve new track.

ardecila Dec 22, 2011 4:46 PM

I was only talking about downtown stuff. I'm assuming that there would also be a suburban branch running through O'Hare Central and O'Hare West, or at least to a spiffy new O'Hare Transfer at the current site with a People Mover connection.

Unfortunately the current plans for the long-term parking site are a huge garage with a not-even-half-assed transit connection. Basically the same as Midway, because the city doesn't seem to give a crap about making connections quick and pleasant.

sammyg Dec 22, 2011 5:57 PM

Instead of BRT, wouldn't it make sense to re-instate express service on Irving Park, Western and Ashland first? (I don't remember which other corridors were cut)

k1052 Dec 22, 2011 5:57 PM

Why not build a short spur off the NCS line just south of the Rosemont stop and take it under Mannheim Rd and right into the surface parking lot of Terminal 5 next to the ATS station?

That has to be cheaper and more direct than most of the plans put forward.


Also in other news apparently the city will open the new Halsted bridge just south of Division on Friday. To celebrate they will immediately close the Halsted bridge north of Chicago until May. Way to go CDOT.

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2...-branch-street

Rizzo Dec 22, 2011 6:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by k1052 (Post 5525778)
Why not build a short spur off the NCS line just south of the Rosemont stop and take it under Mannheim Rd and right into the surface parking lot of Terminal 5 next to the ATS station?

That has to be cheaper and more direct than most of the plans put forward.


Also in other news apparently the city will open the new Halsted bridge just south of Division on Friday. To celebrate they will immediately close the Halsted bridge north of Chicago until May. Way to go CDOT.

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2...-branch-street

They were scheduled that way to ensure detour traffic used Chicago Ave.
Closing both at the same time would have created major problems. The other bridge is in terrible disrepair. I can't believe a bridge is allowed to exist in such condition.

k1052 Dec 22, 2011 6:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hayward (Post 5525818)
They were scheduled that way to ensure detour traffic used Chicago Ave.
Closing both at the same time would have created major problems. The other bridge is in terrible disrepair. I can't believe a bridge is allowed to exist in such condition.

The detour through Goose Island wasn't heavily used, particularly because Division is almost always a parking lot between Halsted and Elston so nobody wanted to go near it. It would have been better do do them at the same time and have the whole road open again.

The other brige is in terrible shape but I trust it more than the Grand Ave. bridge, which I am convinced will just fall into the river one way when I'm walking across it.

nomarandlee Dec 22, 2011 7:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by k1052 (Post 5525778)
Why not build a short spur off the NCS line just south of the Rosemont stop and take it under Mannheim Rd and right into the surface parking lot of Terminal 5 next to the ATS station?

That has to be cheaper and more direct than most of the plans put forward.


Also in other news apparently the city will open the new Halsted bridge just south of Division on Friday. To celebrate they will immediately close the Halsted bridge north of Chicago until May. Way to go CDOT.

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2...-branch-street

Running an O'Hare express from NCS into Terminal 5 isn't a bad idea but it wouldn't really shave off the time enough for most passengers the clear majority of which will still be going to the domestic terminals. They would still need to make a transfer to the ATS mover at Terminal 5 anyhow.

If one wants to maximize convenience and have x-press to terminal service it would be best to just run the trains into one of the domestic terminals though its so congested there I'm not sure how easy or cost efficient that would be to do.

While train to terminal service would be nice I think I lean towards an enclosed super station of sorts where the NCS/x-press and the ATS can meet given that many passengers will make the ATS part of their travel anyway to get to their final terminal. Such a state would also still be able to cater to Metra passengers and perhaps even Amtrak/HSR trains as well.

k1052 Dec 22, 2011 8:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nomarandlee (Post 5525885)
Running an O'Hare express from NCS into Terminal 5 isn't a bad idea but it wouldn't really shave off the time enough for most passengers the clear majority of which will still be going to the domestic terminals. They would still need to make a transfer to the ATS mover at Terminal 5 anyhow.

If one wants to maximize convenience and have x-press to terminal service it would be best to just run the trains into one of the domestic terminals though its so congested there I'm not sure how easy or cost efficient that would be to do.

While train to terminal service would be nice I think I lean towards an enclosed super station of sorts where the NCS/x-press and the ATS can meet given that many passengers will make the ATS part of their travel anyway to get to their final terminal. Such a state would also still be able to cater to Metra passengers and perhaps even Amtrak/HSR trains as well.

It would seem a LOT less expensive to have people transfer from Metra/express rail to ATS at T5 than to serve the other terminals with heavy rail. They'll have to buy some more cars and pump up frequency on the ATS but that has to be done anyway. If you only have a couple minute wait time and a trip time of 5ish min to the farthest terminal I think that's pretty reasonable. Heck it already takes at least that long to walk from the blue line station to any of the security lines.

lawfin Dec 22, 2011 8:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hayward (Post 5525818)
They were scheduled that way to ensure detour traffic used Chicago Ave.
Closing both at the same time would have created major problems. The other bridge is in terrible disrepair. I can't believe a bridge is allowed to exist in such condition.

That bridge is in atrocious shape. My Lord. It is literally crumbling beneath you. I just walked across it last night walking home from Girl and the Goat.

emathias Dec 22, 2011 9:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jpIllInoIs (Post 5525599)
^
I would add a connection to Ohare to that fantasy list. The ROW exists and is plenty wide. Add Ohare express service on the new thru tracks at CUS and you can have 1/2 hourly service from Millenium; McMk place and CUS direct to Ohare. Along with a short extension of the ppl mover to either the existing transfer station or to a the existing Rosemont Metra Station on Balmoral St and you have some direct O'hare service from the Loop which I venture would be far cheaper and faster to implement than any Blue Line express that involve new track.

I posted this a while back.

O'Hare express, plus downtown circulator subway loop. Dotted blue stops are local stops only for the circulator. Solid blue are airport express stops. Green dots are transfer to intercity HSR. Other than cost, the biggest problem with this is probably that HSR cars couldn't make most of those turns.

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5052/5...1258020a_z.jpg
mine - Click to enlarge.

ardecila Dec 22, 2011 10:36 PM

Exactly... The deep foundations of the skyscrapers really limit your alignment choices. SF is facing that problem right now trying to design tunnel access into the new Transbay.

This is not to say you couldn't tunnel beneath a skyscraper if you absolutely HAD to, but it's best to avoid it if possible.

k1052 Dec 26, 2011 1:42 PM

I had occasion to be in Union Station a couple times on the 23rd and 24th to meet family coming into town and predictably the concourse was a disaster.

Luggage carts blocking pedestrian flow? Check

2 of 4 Quick Track ticketing machines broken down? Check

People trying to cluster around the tiny ancient displays that show track locations for arrivals and departures? Check.

Anonymous boarding lines extending out through the doors of the waiting area an into the ticketing room? Check.

LOTS of lost people? Check.

Meanwhile in the Great Hall there were a few random people waiting for long distance trains and what looked like a flea market taking up most of the space. Fantastic use of real estate.

Mr Downtown Dec 26, 2011 5:18 PM

^I can't disagree with you, but how would you ever get people to go into the Great Hall rather than wait as close as possible to their gates?

k1052 Dec 26, 2011 11:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 5528589)
^I can't disagree with you, but how would you ever get people to go into the Great Hall rather than wait as close as possible to their gates?

Pull all Amtrak/Metra ticketing and customer service into the great hall. Add larger clear displays to the hall for departures/arrivals. Move most food concessions out of the concourse and into the vacant retail surrounding the hall.

After all that is done they can gut much of the concourse and rework it into something useful. At the top of the list would be queuing areas for boarding to keep the lines from stretching all through the waiting/ticket areas which consequently blocks traffic flow.

ardecila Dec 27, 2011 5:35 AM

I don't understand why they can't just queue on the platforms, or just have open access to the trains and do ticket checks on board with a several-hundred-dollar fee for ticketless riders. European trains have been remarkably terror-free considering how many intercity trains are run every year.

The reason train stations are ideal for a dense urban environment is the simplicity of rail travel, which requires only simple compact facilities. Overly complex security and boarding procedures are cumbersome, expensive, and unnecessary.

k1052 Dec 27, 2011 4:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5529077)
I don't understand why they can't just queue on the platforms, or just have open access to the trains and do ticket checks on board with a several-hundred-dollar fee for ticketless riders. European trains have been remarkably terror-free considering how many intercity trains are run every year.

The reason train stations are ideal for a dense urban environment is the simplicity of rail travel, which requires only simple compact facilities. Overly complex security and boarding procedures are cumbersome, expensive, and unnecessary.

Metra does it so I'm not sure why Amtrak doesn't, there has to be some reason beyond tradition (DHS maybe?). I don't really have a problem with making people wait in the concourse but they need to actually have somewhere to wait that doesn't obstruct the rest of the station. The platform areas at Union could also use some work though (waterproofing, ventilation, lighting, pressure washing, etc).

Amtrak also needs to aggressively roll out more e-ticketing and Quick Track stations.

ardecila Dec 27, 2011 5:59 PM

^^ Agreed about the machines. Metra should really switch to machines for their downtown terminals, too. A bank of machines would be far cheaper than a handful of ticket-sellers. Then there could be a consolidated ticketing hall with maybe 5 or 6 Amtrak ticket-sellers, one Metra seller, and a bank of machines off to the side for Amtrak and Metra.

If you think about it, there's no reason you couldn't sell all kinds of Metra tickets from a machine. Reduced fares, which require ID, and elderly/disabled persons could continue to use a greatly reduced number of ticket sellers. Metra Electric already works this way.

Rather than firing the existing ticket sellers, you could transfer them to stations that are currently unmanned. Jefferson Park comes to mind, or Clybourn, Ravenswood, or Grand/Cicero.

lawfin Dec 27, 2011 10:51 PM

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...,6808704.story

I am not very sympathetic

Nowhereman1280 Dec 27, 2011 11:11 PM

^^^ I'm thrilled. This is exactly the kind of policy that chokes the suburbs while not driving businesses out of the metro. There is nowhere they can go to avoid these tolls. They can go all the way out to Rockford and STILL get tolled. So the logical answer is to go downtown where your employees can pay as much as they pay in tolls and avoid gas money by taking the Metra.

Driving's not so appealing when you start having to pay the full cost of it.

Mr Downtown Dec 28, 2011 12:45 AM

^Tollway drivers have always, by definition, paid the full cost of driving.

Ch.G, Ch.G Dec 28, 2011 1:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 5529763)
^Tollway drivers have always, by definition, paid the full cost of driving.

Does air quality or anthropogenic climate change factor into that definition?

Mr Downtown Dec 28, 2011 5:31 AM

^No more than in the numbers for Metra. It's pretty tricky to allocate externalities or indirect costs to things, but not indirect benefits.

ardecila Dec 28, 2011 5:31 AM

Of course not, but fuel-tax money obviously goes towards transit programs and CMAQ which reduce emissions in selected areas.

Ch.G, Ch.G Dec 28, 2011 8:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5530027)
Of course not, but fuel-tax money obviously goes towards transit programs and CMAQ which reduce emissions in selected areas.

...it was a rhetorical question; "tollways drivers have always... paid the full cost of driving" is a dubious claim, even if it is difficult to measure externalities.

Nowhereman1280 Dec 28, 2011 3:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 5529763)
^Tollway drivers have always, by definition, paid the full cost of driving.

I knew you were going to post this.

They have only paid for the full cost of road construction. This ignores the massive subsidies given to the auto industry in Detroit that drove down the price of vehicles in the first place. It also ignores the fact that the government acquired land for the tollways using eminent domain in many cases leading to far lower land acquisition costs than the market would demand. And of course there are the oil industry subsidies on top of all of that and, additionally, 30 years of ethanol subsides that are just now ending. That's not to mention the massive cost of our military adventures to protect the low price of our oil against repeated threats in the past. If we didn't spend half a trillion dollars a year on defense and have troops stationed all over the middle east you can bet that gas prices would have been far far higher over the past 30 years. Just look at the recent Libya conflict which sent prices soaring over just 1.5% of global output or the fact that Iran's unrealistic threat of shutting off the gulf sent prices up $2 a barrel yesterday alone.

The price of building the driving surface is only a tiny fraction of the full price we pay for our automobile-industrial complex that controls massive parts of our government.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 5530026)
^No more than in the numbers for Metra. It's pretty tricky to allocate externalities or indirect costs to things, but not indirect benefits.

Actually no, negative externalities for vehicles are FAR higher per person than for Metra. This is because the amount of fuel burned and plastics/raw materials used per person for one ride on Metra is but a tiny fraction of what is used for one ride in a car. How you can deny that is beyond me. But this argument is not about whether Metra is any better, it is about whether or not people who drive pay the full cost of driving. Metra, CTA, Amtrak, Airlines, private submarines, those are all beside the point and outside of the scope of the discussion.

Ch.G, Ch.G Dec 28, 2011 11:33 PM

^ I meant to say all that, too. :D

Mr Downtown Dec 29, 2011 7:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280 (Post 5530243)
This ignores the massive subsidies given to the auto industry in Detroit that drove down the price of vehicles in the first place.

What would be a pre-2008 example of such a massive subsidy?

Quote:

It also ignores the fact that the government acquired land for the tollways using eminent domain in many cases leading to far lower land acquisition costs than the market would demand.
Where was tollway ROW acquired by "the government?"

I don't care much for tollways, but they're the last component of the roadway system you can criticize for being "subsidized." Not only do their users pay the entire cost of constructing, maintaining, and expanding the system, but the ones in urban areas also throw off huge amounts of gas tax revenue to other levels of government and roads.

Nowhereman1280 Dec 29, 2011 7:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 5531595)
What would be a pre-2008 example of such a massive subsidy?

Just off the top of my head is the first time Chrysler/Mopar got bailed out. Then there are all the examples of GM and other companies using the government to gut transit agencies/trolley lines in order to subsidize their bus sales. I could probably go on for pages with individual examples.


Quote:

Where was tollway ROW acquired by "the government?"
Do you seriously expect me to cite individual examples of where it was used? Here's an answer for you: throughout the entire system. And guess what, it's still used on a regular basis for tollway construction projects where an individual owner might not be so hot on selling off a portion of their parking lot so the freeway ramp curve can be reduced by a few degrees. Illinois Tollway Authority has the power of eminent domain which no private enterprise ever has had:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illinoi...hway_Authority

Quote:

I don't care much for tollways, but they're the last component of the roadway system you can criticize for being "subsidized." Not only do their users pay the entire cost of constructing, maintaining, and expanding the system, but the ones in urban areas also throw off huge amounts of gas tax revenue to other levels of government and roads.
The last thing I can criticize for being subsidized of a whole list of things that are all inherently subsidized...

Mr Downtown Dec 29, 2011 8:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280 (Post 5531607)
Just off the top of my head is the first time Chrysler/Mopar got bailed out.

Except that Chrysler repaid the loan guarantees in 1983—with $350 million in interest—and gave the government millions of dollars in stock warrants.

Quote:

Then there are all the examples of GM and other companies using the government to gut transit agencies/trolley lines in order to subsidize their bus sales. I could probably go on for pages with individual examples.
Except that, you know, this didn't actually happen. The government wasn't involved, NCL was acquitted of the "bustitution" charge, and the substition of new one-man buses for worn-out two-man streetcars saved dozens of small city systems that would have otherwise completely disappeared in the decades before public ownership. NCL/PCL was never involved with more than 40 of the nation's 900 streetcar systems.

Quote:

Illinois Tollway Authority has the power of eminent domain which no private enterprise ever has had
Except for railroads, plankroads, streetcar companies, canal companies, pipeline companies, electric utilities, telephone utilities, other utilities, and various redevelopment authorities. You can look these things up before posting, you know. Illinois statutes are all online.

Nowhereman1280 Dec 29, 2011 9:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 5531640)
Except that Chrysler repaid the loan guarantees in 1983—with $350 million in interest—and gave the government millions of dollars in stock warrants.

And TARP will be paid back too. Am I to believe you really think TARP wasn't a subsidy of "too big to fail" banks as well? Please.


Quote:

Except for railroads, plankroads, streetcar companies, canal companies, pipeline companies, electric utilities, telephone utilities, other utilities, and various redevelopment authorities. You can look these things up before posting, you know. Illinois statutes are all online.
Source? You don't have one because you are wrong. No railroads have eminent domain powers and in the instances where eminent domain is used for a railroad they must go through the local government which actually holds such powers. The Illinois Tollway Authority has the power of eminent domain itself. They do no need the local government to take land for them as any other form of transportation does.

Finally, even if it weren't a load of shit, what you just said would be besides the point. This is second time I've had to point this out to you; this isn't a discussion about who else is guilty of being subsidized, this is about whether or not vehicle owners pay the full cost of driving. Whether or not a plank road or Metra has gotten land through eminent domain is irrelevant because we aren't talking about that. The fact is eminent domain is a form of subsidy and the Tollway has that direct power. Period. End of Debate. You lose this point whether you like it or not no matter how many additional tangential arguments you want to make.

Nowhereman1280 Dec 29, 2011 9:06 PM

Oh, and another thing, the fact the the government has a power to collect a gas tax on all gas sold that they use to pay for infrastructure projects is a subsidy in principal as well. No private enterprise has the capability to tax everyone that uses a product in order to provide an additional venue in which consumers may use its product. The government provides this overarching ability to coerce all participants in the market to fund the construction of such a venue. This is nothing more than a mild form of a mandated monopoly which constitutes a subsidy of the entire market as the natural state of the game would mean no participant would be willing to sink so much money into the construction of an asset that is difficult/impossible to control access to and would likely benefit its competitors equally as much as themselves.

And yet another example is the hyper-inflated tax mileage tax write off for businesses supported by the IRS. Of course you are going to drive when you can write off 58.5 cents a mile of your income. If you drive 10,000 miles a year for business that's $5,850 in income you can write off for a savings of at least $1,500 a year. That's about as direct of a subsidy as you'll ever see for anything.

Or ANOTHER example. You can write of the purchase of a vehicle "for business use" in its entirety. This means that millions of small business owners a year dodge probably more than a billion dollars worth of taxes by writing off the purchase of their vehicles. This is ANOTHER direct subsidy where the government is literally paying people to drive.

Oh and let me mention again the trillions we've spent on overseas adventures over the years to keep our gas prices low.

lawfin Dec 29, 2011 9:23 PM

Additionally, if I recall the tollway authority received interest subsidy for build america bonds via the ARRA.

Nowhereman1280 Dec 29, 2011 9:51 PM

^^^ There you go, that's another excellent example. The government can borrow at far far lower interest rates to construct such projects than a private firm would be able to.

Mr Downtown Dec 29, 2011 10:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280 (Post 5531687)
Source? You don't have one because you are wrong. No railroads have eminent domain powers and in the instances where eminent domain is used for a railroad they must go through the local government which actually holds such powers.

610 ILCS 70/1
Sec. 1. Every railroad company heretofore or hereafter organized under the laws of this State . . . shall have power . . . including the power of eminent domain

Nowhereman1280 Dec 29, 2011 10:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 5531748)
610 ILCS 70/1
Sec. 1. Every railroad company heretofore or hereafter organized under the laws of this State . . . shall have power . . . including the power of eminent domain

I don't think you are interpreting that correctly, but again, it's still beside the point. Let's say you are right, how does the fact that railroad companies having eminent domain powers change the fact that the Illinois Tollway Authority has eminent domain? It doesn't. Stop trying to splinter the debate off onto tangents that having nothing to do with the topic.

So tell, are tollways subsidized or are they not. You have presented absolutely nothing to refute what I'm saying and have chosen to spend your time trying to change the topic to "but sometimes railroads are subsidized as well".

Mr Downtown Dec 29, 2011 10:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280 (Post 5531776)
So tell, are tollways subsidized or are they not.

In my opinion, the direct costs of tollways are not subsidized in any meaningful way. The costs of constructing, maintaining, and expanding the ISTHA network have always been paid entirely from tollbooth revenue. In fact, the tollway authority was created, like others in the East and Midwest, in the 1950s precisely because it was politically unthinkable to pay for superhighways from general taxation, and the federal gas tax had not yet been raised for the Interstate system.

The very heart of eminent domain law is that the fair market value is paid for any property taken, so it should theoretically make little difference whether the transaction is willing-seller or eminent domain. For every landowner complaining that he got too little, there will be another who quietly got more than he would have on the open market. For every farmer who loses five rows of crops because the tollway angled across his acreage, there's another whose land value immediately quintupled due to tollway frontage.

As we discussed a few weeks ago, the federal government in 2009 tried to jump-start the bond market by providing modest direct payments to bond-issuing agencies. Since the federal program didn't care if the bonds went to finance roads, buses, dams, or schools, I would consider that a cost of the financial crisis; a subsidy to the financial markets industry rather than the tollways specifically.

In 2010 Illinois tollway mileage generated $124 million in fuel excise taxes (plus another $72 million in state sales taxes assuming a price of $3.50 per gallon, and another $10 million or so in local sales taxes). None of that went to the tollway system. More than half of it went for non-road uses.

ardecila Dec 30, 2011 6:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 5531808)
In 2010 Illinois tollway mileage generated $124 million in fuel excise taxes (plus another $72 million in state sales taxes assuming a price of $3.50 per gallon, and another $10 million or so in local sales taxes). None of that went to the tollway system. More than half of it went for non-road uses.

How does tollway mileage generate fuel tax revenue? Surely you can't be talking about the modest amounts of revenue from the oasis service stations.

The self-funding nature of our tollway system is awesome, but the downside is that Chicago doesn't get anywhere near our fair share of dollars from Washington. Since our expressway needs are mostly funded locally, we should get an increased share of transit dollars, but the two Federal pots of money aren't fungible despite the fact that both pots ultimately come from the Highway Trust Fund.

I'm gonna get some Ron Paul-style eye rolling for this one, but I'm starting to think we should dramatically LOWER the federal fuel tax to a level that funds only interstate maintenance and periodic roadway reconstructions. The interstate highway network has been complete since 1992. Mission accomplished. The rationale for a huge, redistributive transportation funding source is gone.

States that want to dramatically expand their suburban expressway networks should pay for it themselves, just like we do, in whatever way they see fit. As a side effect, states could then set their own transportation policies instead of being a slave to the pet policies of road builders and Sunbelt politicians.

Ch.G, Ch.G Dec 30, 2011 7:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 5531808)
In my opinion, the direct costs of tollways are not subsidized in any meaningful way.

So slippery. Ignore the "indirect" costs all you like: they're still there, they're enormous, and they're (clearly) the focus of this discussion.

VivaLFuego Dec 30, 2011 3:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 5531808)
In my opinion, the direct costs of tollways are not subsidized in any meaningful way. The costs of constructing, maintaining, and expanding the ISTHA network have always been paid entirely from tollbooth revenue.
...
In 2010 Illinois tollway mileage generated $124 million in fuel excise taxes (plus another $72 million in state sales taxes assuming a price of $3.50 per gallon, and another $10 million or so in local sales taxes). None of that went to the tollway system. More than half of it went for non-road uses.

I have to put my lot in with Mr D on this one --- the tollway system is a pretty good example of fair pricing structure for road use, with users paying the direct construction and operations costs in tolls, with external costs (air quality, etc.) being at least somewhat captured in the corresponding gas tax which at least went, in part, to programs like CMAQ or the FTA. Granted, the tolls were way too low for at least the last 15 years for purely political reasons, but the end result of that was simply a huge construction backlog and roadways in dreadfully poor condition (I-90 anyone?).

One could argue, either way, on the extent to which external costs still aren't captured by the users, but in the overall scheme of economic distortions and cross-subsidies in our daily lives (in countless ways beyond merely transportation), that has to be pretty far down the list.

VivaLFuego Dec 30, 2011 3:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5532201)
The self-funding nature of our tollway system is awesome, but the downside is that Chicago doesn't get anywhere near our fair share of dollars from Washington. Since our expressway needs are mostly funded locally, we should get an increased share of transit dollars, but the two Federal pots of money aren't fungible despite the fact that both pots ultimately come from the Highway Trust Fund.

IDOT receives "tollway credits" that can be used in lieu of local match funds for federally-funded transportation projects (including transit projects) --- so at least there is some consideration.

Mr Downtown Dec 30, 2011 5:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5532201)
How does tollway mileage generate fuel tax revenue?

Motorists burn fuel driving on them, and that fuel is taxed.

ardecila Jan 3, 2012 8:26 AM

Fascinating news from the world of RFPs
 
CDOT put out an RFP for the Cermak Green Line station. It's great to know the ball is rolling on this. The RFP calls for a "staggered island platform", which I believe is a configuration similar to Loyola. Platform length will be 725 feet and designed for 8-car trains. The grade-level station house will be on the south side of Cermak with auxiliary entrances on the north side of Cermak and the north side of 23rd.

CTA seems dreadfully afraid of structural failure on their steel viaducts. To reduce the loading on the steel, they pitched a staggered side platform design for Morgan until the engineers told them it would be cheaper just to beef up the steel. That just shows that the Cermak configuration is not set in stone. It's good to see CTA noting the need for multiple access points, though.

Also, CTA released another RFP for a renovation of all the North Main stations between Jarvis and Lawrence, with the exception of Loyola. Canopies will be cleaned and spruced up, wooden platforms will be replaced with concrete, and all interior spaces will be blown out and reconfigured, with some tenant space being converted to station house space. The brick facades, doors, and windows of the station houses will also be replaced, probably with some sterile Duplo-block crap like the new North/Clybourn. Elevators are not included, but the concrete viaduct will also see structural repairs and new drainage systems.

The total budget for this project is only $57 million. CTA wants to start by this April and finish by Fall 2013.

Wilson and Loyola will be renovated in separate projects, with Wilson being completely rebuilt for $100 million and Loyola being renovated in partnership with the university. No word on Sheridan, possibly the rattiest station on the North Main. Any project there will have to tackle the curves as well and probably take out a good swath of the neighborhood as the tracks are realigned.

Mr Downtown Jan 4, 2012 4:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 5535478)
Any project [at Sheridan] will have to tackle the curves as well and probably take out a good swath of the neighborhood as the tracks are realigned.

Why would that be necessary?


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