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ardecila Jul 23, 2013 5:32 AM

Supposedly there is an ordinance preventing CTA from running buses on this road, but that's really what should happen. Is it really worth $43M of taxpayer money to speed up the cabs that bigwigs are traveling in?

denizen467 Jul 23, 2013 11:16 AM

To be fair, the cabs would make it available to the public, hardly just bigwigs, though less than the transit-riding public. BRT to the Museum Campus (and the newly enlargened outdoor music venue, and Soldier Field) could be a rather good idea though, if there were enough timetable demand to warrant some kind of convenient frequency. BRT to McCormick and DePaul too, though the Cermak Green Line station is intended for that audience.

After seeing the article, I realized this proposal may just be some political opportunism reacting to a local columnist's article (demonstrating again why broadcast journalism is so inferior to print journalism), but maybe there genuinely is potential in using this infrastructure.

Mr Downtown Jul 23, 2013 3:10 PM

One of the things that makes it a reliable timesaver for the buses is not having to worry about lunatic taxi drivers. Seems like a bad idea to me.

As for use by CTA buses, yes, I understand Metra forbade CTA use as a condition of leasing the right-of-way. But it's never been clear to me what CTA route could actually make good use of it. Think about all the complicated turns required to get a northbound 6 from Lake Shore Drive to the entry gate at 25th & King. And downtown, they end up on lower Randolph with no easy way to get to surface-level streets.

Mister Uptempo Jul 23, 2013 5:44 PM

Fix Union Station! - Midwest High Speed Rail Assn.'s New Website
 
On July 22, the Midwest High Speed Rail Association launched a new website, entitled, Fix Union Station!

It makes a number of proposals to improve the facility, some mirroring ideas already in play. Among them are the following-

-Establishing a new entrance along Clinton, in hopes of diverting taxis away from chaotic Canal Street, and providing needed foot traffic through a revitalized headhouse accommodating new retail and dining.

-Taking all non-boarding functions out of the concourse.

-Creation of four through tracks for Amtrak Regional routes.

-Digging high-speed rail tunnels under either Canal or Clinton.

-"Downtown Connector" Light Rail connecting Union Station with all other downtown Metra stations, several CTA "L" stations, Michigan Avenue, Navy Pier, the Museum Campus, and McCormick Place.

-A new concourse at 300 S. Riverside that would tie into the current concourse.

-A direct connection to the St. Charles Air Line and the rebuilding/expansion of the 21st Street bridge to triple tracks.

DCCliff Jul 23, 2013 6:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 6207244)
One of the things that makes it a reliable timesaver for the buses is not having to worry about lunatic taxi drivers. Seems like a bad idea to me.

As for use by CTA buses, yes, I understand Metra forbade CTA use as a condition of leasing the right-of-way. But it's never been clear to me what CTA route could actually make good use of it. Think about all the complicated turns required to get a northbound 6 from Lake Shore Drive to the entry gate at 25th & King. And downtown, they end up on lower Randolph with no easy way to get to surface-level streets.

So, instead we have a useless roadway in a rail trench that could be a benefit; but the usual close-minded local interests ensure that it is lightly used. And, Mr D, the cabbie reference smacks of desperation and generalized mean-spiritedness. Why?

emathias Jul 23, 2013 7:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 6207244)
One of the things that makes it a reliable timesaver for the buses is not having to worry about lunatic taxi drivers. Seems like a bad idea to me.

As for use by CTA buses, yes, I understand Metra forbade CTA use as a condition of leasing the right-of-way. But it's never been clear to me what CTA route could actually make good use of it. Think about all the complicated turns required to get a northbound 6 from Lake Shore Drive to the entry gate at 25th & King. And downtown, they end up on lower Randolph with no easy way to get to surface-level streets.

Quote:

Originally Posted by denizen467 (Post 6206890)
Heard on the radio today: Ald Fioretti is talking about opening the McCormick busway to taxicabs, in exchange for a fee (I think it was $1 per run). Since congestion-period travel times between the Loop and McCormick can get close to a half hour (when it's really bad), a premium 8-minute busway run is thought to be a win for all sides.
...

I do not think it should be opened to taxis. Or if it is, the extra fee should be at LEAST the base rail fee for the CTA, with proceeds going completely to a CTA infrastructure fund.

I also don't see why Metra shut it to the CTA - that smacks of stupid rivalry stuff. A "crosstown" route between the Near South and the Streeterville would be a good use of it. Lower Randolph to Columbus would quickly get buses to Streeterville. Plenty of hotels and offices in Streeterville and plenty of conventions and residences in the Near South.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mister Uptempo (Post 6207423)
-Establishing a new entrance along Clinton, in hopes of diverting taxis away from chaotic Canal Street, and providing needed foot traffic through a revitalized headhouse accommodating new retail and dining.

Yes, please.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mister Uptempo (Post 6207423)
-Taking all non-boarding functions out of the concourse.

Sounds rational.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mister Uptempo (Post 6207423)
-Creation of four through tracks for Amtrak Regional routes.

More than four would be great, but four is a great start.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mister Uptempo (Post 6207423)
-Digging high-speed rail tunnels under either Canal or Clinton.

Yes.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mister Uptempo (Post 6207423)
-"Downtown Connector" Light Rail connecting Union Station with all other downtown Metra stations, several CTA "L" stations, Michigan Avenue, Navy Pier, the Museum Campus, and McCormick Place.

This should be a subway. Period. If they won't pay for a subway, BRT. Surface rail in the Loop would be asinine.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mister Uptempo (Post 6207423)
-A new concourse at 300 S. Riverside that would tie into the current concourse.

Couldn't be worse than it currently is.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mister Uptempo (Post 6207423)
-A direct connection to the St. Charles Air Line and the rebuilding/expansion of the 21st Street bridge to triple tracks.

Ok. Would love to turn the Pink Line into a branch of O'Hare using the St. Charles Air Line, Red Line and Red-Blue connector tunnel, but that's not really part of this discussion

Beta_Magellan Jul 25, 2013 2:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 6207595)
More than four would be great, but four is a great start.

I don’t think you really need more than four, particularly if we’re just talking about Amtrak routes. Electrified commuter rail in this country can do 20-24 tph on two tracks (Tokyo and Paris do around 30); I expect Metra’s to be somewhat less , but still high enough that four tracks in more than enough to decongest Union Station (last year’s Union Station plan suggested a four-track, two-platform Canal Street tunnel be served by electrified Metra and intercity services, specifically for better their grade-climbing ability but there would be throughput advantages as well).

It’s weird that they’re singling out Amtrak regional services, though. With the exception of the Hiawatha they’re not all that reliable, so by through-running you either you accept that delays on the Cardinal or Lincoln Service cascade to the Hiawatha (and lose regular customers—like me—who take reasonable OTP on the Hiawatha for granted) or you include a lot of schedule padding by having trains for a while at Union Station, which negates some of the issues dealing with through-running.

Anyway, outside of fantasy-land Chicago’s likely to see either increased fares or reduced service due to a cut in state aid for reduced fares (Tribune link). Money paragraphs:

Quote:

The CTA receives about 84 percent of reduced-fare funding, which is distributed based on the actual cost of providing the roughly half-price fares, officials said. Metra receives about 9 percent and Pace gets about 7 percent of the grants from IDOT.

Even at $34 million, the state reimbursement doesn't come close to covering the whole cost of the reduced fares, transit officials said, nor does it include any expenses the transit agencies incur to provide free rides to eligible low-income senior citizens and disabled riders.

The cost of reduced fares for the three agencies typically exceeds $100 million annually, according to the RTA. The cost of reduced fairs, mandated under federal and state laws, is projected to keep rising as the region's population ages and the number of eligible riders increases, officials said.

[…]

The state funding cut, piled on top of other transit budget challenges, could lead to service cuts or fare increases next year, although transit officials said planning for their 2014 budgets is still in the preliminary stages and it is too early to make predictions or issue warnings to riders.

Read the rest at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/c...,2336165.story

ardecila Jul 25, 2013 3:37 PM

I thought the "visionary" plan called for a ventilated tunnel designed around Metra's current diesel-hauled gallery cars. The lack of high-platform boarding is a fatal flaw in this plan; the dwell times would prevent anything like 24-30 tph. With two platform tracks in each direction the trains can only dwell for four minutes, which is not enough to unload several thousand people. 10-15 tph is probably more realistic, and this allows for 15-20 minute headways on each of the northside/southside branches.

Unfortunately, implementing high-platform boarding is just as difficult or worse than electrification, because so many Metra stations are traversed by local streets that would need to be closed, and there would need to be some kind of pricey overpass/underpass for pedestrian crossings mid-platform. Maybe there's some rolling stock that can be designed with vestibules that transform for high-platform stations to avoid the issue.

Beta_Magellan Jul 25, 2013 4:48 PM

I’m only semi-right—it was a precondition for a Clinton Street tunnel, not necessarily a Canal one (I also mentally mixed it up with Boston’s North-South rail link) I linked to the tunnel appendix, but the electrification mention was actually in the main body of the study. From page 56 of the study (70 on the pdf) and primarily referred to intercity traffic:

Quote:

Trains on the upper level would encounter ruling grades of 2.5%; trains on the lower railroad level would face grades of close to 4% (see profile). About 1.3 miles of the route would be in tunnel. Because of the grades and the tunnel operation, electrified operation is likely to be essential to the future viability of this plan. The near 4% grades in particular would probably require use of electric multiple unit equipment as is used in many international high speed rail trains.
Canal’s wide enough to not require a lower tunnel and only has a ruling grade of 2.5%.

Edit: That’s two monumentally stupid things I’ve posted today. Goodbye all.

Rizzo Jul 25, 2013 5:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 6204851)
And nothing says you're serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions like attempting to heat the entire atmosphere of the earth.

Actually, it was much greener. Both systems were operated from co-generation. Also it reduced carbon emissions of running large snow-plow vehicles that would also damage the asphalt.

nomarandlee Jul 25, 2013 5:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 6207595)

This should be a subway. Period. If they won't pay for a subway, BRT. Surface rail in the Loop would be asinine.

There should be a Clinton St. subway I agree but the idea that there shouldn't be a light rail I think is just wrong. I think there is enough room and (relatively light) traffic doesn't make prohibitive the idea of street rail in the West Loop, South Loop, or River North. Traffic in downtown Chicago really isn't that bad compared to other major cities I've gone to. In fact I would argue a bit of induced congestion wouldn't be an all out bad thing.

If light rail is good enough for the likes of Paris, Berlin, and Toronto it can probably work for Chicago.

Quote:

Ok. Would love to turn the Pink Line into a branch of O'Hare using the St. Charles Air Line, Red Line and Red-Blue connector tunnel, but that's not really part of this discussion
I'm torn on if I would like to see the SCAL one day become a transit corridor that it is set up perfectly for or to see it as an awesome (and I think potentially more impressive) pedestrian walkway (high line, Bloomingdale Line) connecting the Loop to the lake front.

k1052 Jul 25, 2013 6:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nomarandlee (Post 6210118)

I'm torn on if I would like to see the SCAL one day become a transit corridor that it is set up perfectly for or to see it as an awesome (and I think potentially more impressive) pedestrian walkway (high line, Bloomingdale Line) connecting the Loop to the lake front.

The Loop is better connected already to the lakefront than the SCAL will ever be. It should be reserved exclusively for rail to access that gloriously wide and electrified IC row which we will be needing in the coming years.

emathias Jul 25, 2013 7:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nomarandlee (Post 6210118)
...
If light rail is good enough for the likes of Paris, Berlin, and Toronto it can probably work for Chicago.
...

I haven't been to Berlin, but light rail in central Toronto is a joke, and I'm not aware of any light rail in the central part of Paris - it's primarily a suburban system there, with a few lines running along the edge of the central area.

Even in Portland, the majority of where MAX runs is isolated from traffic, and where the streetcars run in traffic they are much slower than buses, and often slower than walking - that sort of service level would not be tolerable in Chicago.

nomarandlee Jul 25, 2013 9:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 6210363)
I haven't been to Berlin, but light rail in central Toronto is a joke, and I'm not aware of any light rail in the central part of Paris - it's primarily a suburban system there, with a few lines running along the edge of the central area.

Even in Portland, the majority of where MAX runs is isolated from traffic, and where the streetcars run in traffic they are much slower than buses, and often slower than walking - that sort of service level would not be tolerable in Chicago.

I'd agree that unless the trams/light rail had their own ROW clearance on the streets then it would be wiser to do BRT or nothing at all.

Mr Downtown Jul 26, 2013 3:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 6209906)
Maybe there's some rolling stock that can be designed with vestibules that transform for high-platform stations to avoid the issue.

That's a problem solved circa 1890, with something called a trap (short for trapdoor). The vestibule steps are covered with a hinged plate that is raised for ground-level boarding and lowered for high platform boarding. Most Amtrak cars have them, and the South Shore line uses them locally.

Justin_Chicago Jul 27, 2013 7:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 6210363)
I haven't been to Berlin, but light rail in central Toronto is a joke, and I'm not aware of any light rail in the central part of Paris - it's primarily a suburban system there, with a few lines running along the edge of the central area.

Even in Portland, the majority of where MAX runs is isolated from traffic, and where the streetcars run in traffic they are much slower than buses, and often slower than walking - that sort of service level would not be tolerable in Chicago.

I agree. I work in Portland once a month and the light rail system downtown is awful. I tried it twice, but now I just walk.

ardecila Jul 28, 2013 1:30 AM

Yeah, but the vestibules on Amtrak and South Shore cars are tiny. I guess the design could be adapted for wider vestibules, though, and the small vestibules are usually paired up with another one on the adjacent car.

denizen467 Jul 29, 2013 3:54 AM

And it begins.


http://www.chicagotribune.com/classi...,632237.column
Experts expected to steer Lake Shore Drive away from being a superhighway
Jon Hilkevitch: Getting Around
July 29, 2013

A long-planned transformation of North Lake Shore Drive is entering a new phase, as city and state planners look to cull ideas from the public on how best to serve the tens of thousands who use the crucial roadway every day.

Overhauling the 7-mile stretch likely will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and work probably won't start for at least five years, but such input is expected to help shape the project that aims to balance the thoroughfare's origins in the early 1900s as "a boulevard through a park" and one that will meet the changing needs of those who drive, ride, walk and run along it for years to come.

Public meetings are set to start next week ...

ardecila Jul 29, 2013 4:49 AM

Cool. Putting in a bonafide bus transit system along the Drive is probably the most cost-effective way to improve transit to the North Side. Dedicated stations will make it even better.

Rizzo Jul 29, 2013 5:45 AM

I'll definitely put in my comments for large expansive tunnels like in grant park. The tunnels near oak, division, and north are an embarrassment and besides looking rundown and forgotten, harbor crime.

ChiPsy Jul 29, 2013 2:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hayward (Post 6213664)
I'll definitely put in my comments for large expansive tunnels like in grant park. The tunnels near oak, division, and north are an embarrassment and besides looking rundown and forgotten, harbor crime.

Agreed. Especially the Division Street tunnel -- it looks closer to a sewer tunnel (with decayed walls and ubiquitous spiders added for bonus effect) than anything a law-abiding citizen should be caught in. It's amazing that something transversed by so many international visitors, etc. has been allowed to fall into such repugnant disrepair -- and I guess there's no hope for a prelim fix while we wait 5-10 years for a LSD makeover, right?

Rizzo Jul 29, 2013 6:19 PM

^ That was my understanding when I've asked about that kind of thing. No one wants to sink money into an expensive improvement that could be replaced or modified in the next 10 years. That's why the Michigan Ave pedestrian subway was closed instead of attempting to take corrective measures. Eventually something permanent may happen. I've suggested a grand stairway beneath the unused covered terrace of 1000 plaza to get swaths of people beneath the avenue. Another suggestion is to smooth the curve on LSD to create additional beach frontage and a more appropriate sized park at Michigan and Oak. Not sure how the folks on ELSD would like this, but an improved park would be a huge bonus to everyone in the neighborhood.

Mr Downtown Jul 29, 2013 6:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 6213640)
a bonafide bus transit system along the Drive is probably the most cost-effective way to improve transit to the North Side. Dedicated stations will make it even better.

I used to think that, but now I'm not so sure. Though a dedicated bus lane couldn't hurt, traffic congestion on the Drive itself isn't that much of a problem for the express buses. Getting to and from the Loop itself (via Michigan or Wacker-LaSalle) is time-consuming at one end, and for patrons of a true BRT there'd be the time needed for a walk to the station at the home end. The current system of at-the-door pickups followed by a nonstop run to downtown is probably as fast or faster than a lengthy walk to the BRT stop, then boarding a bus that stops at 10 more BRT stations before it gets downtown.

I think a bus subway under North Michigan Avenue would be a much better expenditure.

oshkeoto Jul 29, 2013 6:43 PM

^ But what about the places where LSD is right on the park/city border? Between Montrose and Belmont, and North and Randolph, BRT stops on the Drive would be closer for a significant number of people than a walk to the Red Line (or Loop). It'd make it a hell of a lot easier to get to rapid transit from eastern Lakeview and Uptown, as well as Streeterville and Lakeshore East. That seems like a pretty good deal, no? The only issue would be connectivity with other rapid transit lines.

emathias Jul 29, 2013 7:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 6214158)
...
I think a bus subway under North Michigan Avenue would be a much better expenditure.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks that.

Mr Downtown Jul 29, 2013 8:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by oshkeoto (Post 6214172)
BRT stops on the Drive would be closer for a significant number of people than a walk to the Red Line

But not closer than the current bus stop in front of their door. If you put a BRT station every half-mile, that's an average walk of one-quarter mile for every single patron. It's door-to-door transit time that matters, not how fast you go between stops.

k1052 Jul 29, 2013 8:52 PM

I'd rather see some BRT on major East-West streets before on LSD.

Most of the LSD services get bound up on the ramps, at Chicago, or on Michigan. All of which can be solved more effectively than putting in median BRT on all of North LSD.

OhioGuy Jul 29, 2013 10:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 6214158)
I think a bus subway under North Michigan Avenue would be a much better expenditure.

I've mentioned this before. It would be such a wonderful thing if the buses on North Michigan Avenue could be moved to a bus subway... something similar to what Seattle created two decades ago (although the buses are tentatively scheduled to be kicked out of that subway sometime within the next 10 years due to expanded Link light rail service needing exclusive use of the subway).

I used to live near Addison & Pine Grove. If I was simply heading down to Michigan Ave to do some shopping, I'd happly take the express bus. But if I was traveling to the loop, I always walked to the Addison red line and took the L downtown to avoid the congestion on North Michigan Avenue.

ardecila Jul 29, 2013 11:07 PM

I'm not really envisioning a ton of LSD bus stations. They would be located not every half-mile, but every mile, and only where LSD runs close to the city or where there is a major recreational destination. To preserve some quick travel times, each station would be a flag stop. The current service patterns would continue, but the nonstop segments would be broken up. Maps on each platform should make the branching service clear to riders.

Chicago
Division
North
Fullerton
Belmont
Irving Park
Montrose
Foster

Stations would not be at the interchanges but a half-block away and co-located with pedestrian underpasses or overpasses.

tjp Jul 30, 2013 1:11 AM

Is there any kind of tunnel currently below North Michigan?

Remy_Bork Jul 30, 2013 1:52 AM

I believe the lower level only goes up to Grand Ave.

Mr Downtown Jul 30, 2013 2:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 6214523)
I'm not really envisioning a ton of LSD bus stations. They would be located not every half-mile, but every mile, and only where LSD runs close to the city or where there is a major recreational destination.. . .The current service patterns would continue, but the nonstop segments would be broken up.

I'm not following. Is your idea that riders on the 147 could have the driver stop at Barry so they could walk to Belmont Harbor? What's the point of the intermediate stops?

ardecila Jul 30, 2013 3:02 AM

Pretty much, yeah - good example. The Belmont station would be at Barry because that's where the underpass is. The 77 already turns onto the Inner Drive, so it would be easy to switch to an east-west bus. The area around the Belmont/Barry station is high density and if every bus on Lake Shore Drive stopped there, this would give Lakeview residents a variety of quick trips to downtown, depending on which bus they board at the station.

Lake Shore Drive acts as a rapid transit line, with each bus entering and exiting at a different point. The highest frequencies would be south of Fullerton.

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2852/9...81d30bce_z.jpg
src

Justin_Chicago Jul 30, 2013 12:46 PM

I am not seeing the benefit of BRT along lakeshore drive when people enjoy the convenience of picking up the 135/136/148 etc. in front of their buildings, especially in the winter. Why walk the extra distance to a bus stop in the middle of drive when I only have to walk 10 feet in front of my high rise?

A bus only lane shared by all northside buses or a new subway running south to Hyde Park would be a different story.

Rizzo Jul 30, 2013 4:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 6214158)

I think a bus subway under North Michigan Avenue would be a much better expenditure.

This would totally be a dream come true to me.

denizen467 Jul 31, 2013 1:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 6214158)
I think a bus subway under North Michigan Avenue would be a much better expenditure.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hayward (Post 6215280)
This would totally be a dream come true to me.

Curious, what is the thinking regarding the portals? Going south, presumably it slopes up and then bores through the Grand wall into Lower Michigan? What about the north end?

Construction would be colossally disruptive - is running it under Rush an alternative?

Mr Downtown Jul 31, 2013 3:56 AM

Well, my thought is to just continue Lower Michigan north from Grand to Oak. Only 42 feet wide, under the center medians of Upper Michigan Avenue (128 feet wide), very shallow cut-and-cover with simple open grilles in the driving lanes of upper Michigan for ventilation. The transition to Lake Shore Drive would come when the interchange at Oak is rebuilt.

At the south end, it's a little trickier. You can get in and out by looping through Illinois Center or Garland-Lower South Water, but that gets ugly with articulated buses. Probably better to do one-lane access ramps in the center of Michigan: a northbound ramp down between South Water and Lake, and a southbound ramp up between Lake and Randolph.

emathias Jul 31, 2013 5:06 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by denizen467 (Post 6215995)
Curious, what is the thinking regarding the portals? Going south, presumably it slopes up and then bores through the Grand wall into Lower Michigan? What about the north end?

Slopes up? We're not talking San Francisco here.

Oak Street at the north end. That whole interchange needs to be rebuilt someday anyway.

Quote:

Originally Posted by denizen467 (Post 6215995)
Construction would be colossally disruptive - is running it under Rush an alternative?

That's probably the dumbest idea I've ever heard. "Let's spend the same amount of money and create something way less efficient and convenient." No.

There'd be no getting around some disruption along Michigan Avenue, but crossings disruptions could be kept to a minimum, and if it was done all in the median, or all on the outside lanes, it could be mitigated pretty well.

I mostly agree with Mr. Downtown's assessment, although I think there should also be a portal to State Street between Wacker and Lake. That would be more controversial and tricky with the Red Line, but I think quite possible and then allow both the State Street and Michigan Ave buses to use portals. And of course there would be buses using Lower Wacker. And ideally you'd get Metra to let the CTA run a few routes through the bus transitway along the Metra Electric tracks.

denizen467 Jul 31, 2013 10:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 6216235)
Slopes up? We're not talking San Francisco here.

We're talking a 1-level slope, like all the other 1-level slopes resulting from roadways approaching a Chicago River crossing. Lower Michigan is on the same grade as most of the rest of North Michigan (beyond Ohio), so the tunnel would involve a slope from grade to the new subterranean level. It's a topographical observation and there isn't really much more or less to it.
Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 6216235)
That's probably the dumbest idea I've ever heard. "Let's spend the same amount of money and create something way less efficient and convenient." No.

Let's spend the same amount of money, not screw an entire quadrant of downtown with traffic nightmares for a couple years while shooing away shoppers and tourists, and create something slightly less convenient but better in spreading out crowds and encouraging the next wave of development one block off Michigan. There are many cities in the world where the marquee shopping district is offset a block or so from the main transportation spine. And I think you are underestimating the scale of the project and its disruption - are you familiar with where sewer lines and other utilities run, or with whether excavating a half-mile trench into earth (including rerouting new utilities underneath it) is for example simpler than the multiyear all-above-ground, mere-replacement Wacker project? In addition, construction closures would take up more than just the center medians, to say nothing of the couple stations and all their access portals, and any emergency egress portals along the route. I'm not saying it's an unacceptable idea, nor that there is an elegant way to get from Rush to LSD, but I don't see it as the only option and could see a lot of chamber of commerce style opposition from some of the most powerful landowners (and commuters) in the city - some of whom probably would view the finished bus tunnel as a net negative for Boul Mich anyway.

emathias Jul 31, 2013 2:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by denizen467 (Post 6216348)
...
Let's spend the same amount of money, not screw an entire quadrant of downtown with traffic nightmares for a couple years while shooing away shoppers and tourists, and create something slightly less convenient but better in spreading out crowds and encouraging the next wave of development one block off Michigan. There are many cities in the world where the marquee shopping district is offset a block or so from the main transportation spine. And I think you are underestimating the scale of the project and its disruption - are you familiar with where sewer lines and other utilities run, or with whether excavating a half-mile trench into earth (including rerouting new utilities underneath it) is for example simpler than the multiyear all-above-ground, mere-replacement Wacker project? In addition, construction closures would take up more than just the center medians, to say nothing of the couple stations and all their access portals, and any emergency egress portals along the route. I'm not saying it's an unacceptable idea, nor that there is an elegant way to get from Rush to LSD, but I don't see it as the only option and could see a lot of chamber of commerce style opposition from some of the most powerful landowners (and commuters) in the city - some of whom probably would view the finished bus tunnel as a net negative for Boul Mich anyway.

There are a lot of utilities under Rush, too, and Rush is barely wide enough for two buses, plus it angles away from Michigan a bit between Chicago and Oak, plus it has a fair number of high-end retailers between Pearson and Oak, not to mention that along Oak - the likely connector to LSD - there's plenty of money.

Michigan is the only street in the area that could plausibly remain open - albeit at reduced capacity - during the construction. It also already connects to the other below-grade streets that would be incorporated into the network (Illinois, Carol, Wacker, etc).

When Paris built Metro Line 1, which runs under the Champs-Elysees and around the Arc d'Triumph, it was built with cut-and-cover. I believe the same is true for the subway under Gran Via in Madrid and under Passeig de Gracia and La Rambla in Barcelona. Sometimes the end does justify the means.

ardecila Jul 31, 2013 10:41 PM

Why not just bore the the tunnel? Two small-diameter tunnels (~18') bored from Lower Michigan at Grand to a pit in the Michigan/Oak park. You'd still have to build the stations with cut-and-cover techniques, but that's only 4-6 blocks' worth of disruption, depending on the number and length of stations, versus the entire length of N. Michigan.

If the tunnels are deep enough, they would avoid most utilities except certain sewers. Perhaps the vertical alignment could be tweaked to avoid them. :shrug:

I've never heard any official suggestion of a Michigan bus subway; has there been such a suggestion from city or regional officials?

Rizzo Jul 31, 2013 10:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 6216235)
Slopes up? We're not talking San Francisco here.

Oak Street at the north end. That whole interchange needs to be rebuilt someday anyway.



That's probably the dumbest idea I've ever heard. "Let's spend the same amount of money and create something way less efficient and convenient." No.

There'd be no getting around some disruption along Michigan Avenue, but crossings disruptions could be kept to a minimum, and if it was done all in the median, or all on the outside lanes, it could be mitigated pretty well.

I mostly agree with Mr. Downtown's assessment, although I think there should also be a portal to State Street between Wacker and Lake. That would be more controversial and tricky with the Red Line, but I think quite possible and then allow both the State Street and Michigan Ave buses to use portals. And of course there would be buses using Lower Wacker. And ideally you'd get Metra to let the CTA run a few routes through the bus transitway along the Metra Electric tracks.

Maybe I'll sound stupid saying this but I can't see how closure of most lanes would have any severe consequences on Michigan Ave. Businesses depend on pedestrian traffic, and commuters rely on buses getting through. Taxis and cars can still get close to Michigan ave on cross streets. Only time Michigan Ave is backed up is Friday afternoons. Otherwise people take other routes to get around. It seems like when Michigan Ave was totally ripped up almost 2 years ago it wasn't that big of a deal. Reduce it to two very narrow lanes each direction and choreograph construction.

Mr Downtown Jul 31, 2013 11:17 PM

How are you going to ventilate a bored, deep-level tunnel with diesel buses running through it every 40 seconds? Just restrict turns for a 1200-foot section, close the two center lanes, vibrate in the sheet piling, and excavate. Six weeks later, deck it over and move on. It's critical that it be close to the surface for ventilation, to avoid water infiltration, and so most people will use stairs to and from boarding platforms. Also so you can use the existing lower-level roadway between Grand and Lake.

ardecila Aug 1, 2013 4:33 AM

I was thinking something along the lines of Boston or Seattle, where they used dual-mode buses and strung trolley wire in the tunnels. You'd still need ventilation in the stations but as you mention, that could be done using grilles to the open air above.

emathias Aug 1, 2013 2:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hayward (Post 6217141)
Maybe I'll sound stupid saying this but I can't see how closure of most lanes would have any severe consequences on Michigan Ave. Businesses depend on pedestrian traffic, and commuters rely on buses getting through. Taxis and cars can still get close to Michigan ave on cross streets. Only time Michigan Ave is backed up is Friday afternoons. Otherwise people take other routes to get around. It seems like when Michigan Ave was totally ripped up almost 2 years ago it wasn't that big of a deal. Reduce it to two very narrow lanes each direction and choreograph construction.

I agree.

wierdaaron Aug 2, 2013 2:29 AM

This discussion needs more visual aids.

M II A II R II K Aug 2, 2013 6:43 PM

CTA trying for more 'customer-friendly' seating in future cars

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...0,686396.story

Quote:

.....

The CTA's next rail car order will not repeat the mostly center-facing seating configuration that has proved unpopular among many commuters who ride on the new fleet that's still being delivered, transit officials said Thursday in revealing a preferred new interior look for future cars.

.....



http://www.chicagotribune.com/media/...8/76882524.jpg

Buckman821 Aug 2, 2013 7:17 PM

The new Ravenswood Metra station taking shape:

Also of note: further west down Lawrence, closer to Damen (sorry didn't get a shot) I believe you can see work on the road diet getting underway. I believe they are currently ripping out the old streetcar rail.

http://i.imgur.com/O5MwzlF.jpg

Busy Bee Aug 3, 2013 12:50 AM

Jeez, they've got that horrible horrible Metra logo embossed in the concrete? Why? Why Metra why?

denizen467 Aug 3, 2013 1:38 AM

^ That is funny.

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 6216456)
There are a lot of utilities under Rush, too, and Rush is barely wide enough for two buses, plus it angles away from Michigan a bit between Chicago and Oak, plus it has a fair number of high-end retailers between Pearson and Oak, not to mention that along Oak - the likely connector to LSD - there's plenty of money.

Just to finish my thoughts on this, and play devil's advocate, based on scale Rush probabalistically has fewer utility issues than Michigan, although east-west-running utility problems would likely be the same. As for width, you're trying to have it both ways if you say a small median in Michigan would be sufficient for this project, but suddenly the entirety of Rush is inadequate. As for geometry, a Rush alignment would have issues but at Connors Park there would be ample space to lay out a bowed curve to Delaware. Delaware to Michigan would be tighter, but nothing different from what buses do on surface streets already. On Delaware, you basically have 2 giant structures (900 and Fourth Church) plus a couple others, so only a handful of landowners (I think the 900 condos entrance is on Walton). Then there's only 1 more block until Walton; Michigan beyond Walton will presumably be chopped up anyway for the big LSD project. Connors Park could even sit on top of a comfortably-sized, easily-constructed station.

The thing about Rush is that you could darn near shut the whole street down for a month and barely anyone would notice, other than the limited establishments on it. The south end is tricky, but somewhere within a block of Hubbard, including that giant surface lot, there may be space for a portal. Because most of North Bridge is elevated, the future developer of that parcel might be happy to sell or rent the portal incursion onto the parcel.

Hayward, I think you're pretty off base in your assessment of dieting Michigan to just a couple lanes. Think of rainy commuting hours, or snowy Saturdays or evenings in the dark winter. For example, getting a cab from the Loop to and from a doctor's appointment east of Michigan can already be a nightmare and unpredictable in rain during the day. The big problem is not whether the adjoining retailers lose vehicle-arriving customers, it's whether the surrounding street grid has arteries to handle the displaced traffic flow.

Mr Downtown, them construction types are going to want a buffer lane, especially for equipment, on each side of your median trench during construction, so it feels more like 3 or 4 lanes being shut down.

Anyway, given Mr Downtown's comment about 1200 feet sections, it does seem much less disruptive if they did the center-median Michigan closures just 2 or 3 blocks at a time and suspended parking lanes nearby to allow for efficient detours, and also gave the avenue a breather during certain congested times of year, like December. So I hope that would work out somehow. I think this concludes my outside-the-box suggestion for now.


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