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Nowhereman1280 Apr 19, 2009 3:29 PM


Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 4203822)
^ You don't think Northwestern University's Professional schools, the new Children's Memorial, Prentice Hospital, NWU Hospital, and its affiliated research institutions, the ABA, the ADA, etc don't make up a massive employment district?

And don't tell me they already have parking, because the whole point of improving transit access to that area is to reduce its parking needs so that we don't see more goliath parking garages envelop Streeterville.

Well I had forgotten about northwestern, but I don't really think a lot of people who work there commute from the South/ south west side suburbs. I would not say most of them drive, I would say that anyone who has decided to make the foolish choice to live on the South West side and try to commute to Northwestern already drives. From my experience most of the workers in the Northwestern Hospital district seem to have made the wise choice to live on the north side and take the train or express buses since its virtually inaccessible in any other way. Northwestern is a very North-Centric employer due to the Evanston campus location. Many of the academics and doctors and nearly all the students there either have to keep an office in Evanston or live/take classes there.

In any case, my point was primarily that, compared to just about every other sector of downtown, Streeterville is relatively devoid of office jobs that would draw large numbers of commuters from the suburbs. No hotels and other service industry jobs of that nature do not count since most "service sector" (think maids and janitors and bellhops) jobs are filled by the lower and lower-middle class of Chicago which usually uses a bus or train to reach their jobs.

Mr Downtown Apr 19, 2009 3:56 PM

Other than the transportation census package, the best source for employment location in Chicago is the Illinois Dept. of Employment Security's publication Where Workers Work. Here are the numbers for downtown ZIP codes from the 2008 edition:

In Streeterville ZIP 60611, the number includes:
  • Retail 10,000
  • Professional 12,100
  • Health 10,800
  • Hotel/Restaurant 24,000
  • Information 7,600

the urban politician Apr 19, 2009 4:45 PM

^ AWESOME graphic, Mr D!

THis emphasizes further why investment in transit in the Loop proper shouldn't be the city's only priority, even though it clearly is the much larger center of employment for the central district.

I'd really love to see Chicago's mass transit system less fragmented downtown. More connections quickly linking commuters at various stations (CTA stops as well as Union/Ogilvie, LaSalle, Millennium) to eachother as well as parts of downtown outside of the Loop proper are the way to go.

Hopefully the city can get the Monroe & Carroll/Clinton Ave transitways up and running eventually (ie we shouldn't still be having this conversation in 25 years!).

Chicago Shawn Apr 19, 2009 5:34 PM

^Yes, that is a seriously awesome source of information.

I will have to refer to that anytime anyone argues that we should stop investing in downtown Chicago. Over half a million people work in the Central Area, in a area of what, less than 8 square miles?

Lets say the average annual salary of these workers is $20,000 a year, a conservative estimate, but you have to factor in all of the low wage service employees. $20,000 x 520,300 employees x 3% flat IL State income tax rate= $312,180,000 annual revenue for the state; which of course does not even include any business taxes or sales taxes from purchases within the same area for office supplies, food, clothing and hotel stays for out-of-town clients.

the urban politician Apr 19, 2009 5:57 PM

^ Nor does it include property taxes

Mr Downtown Apr 19, 2009 6:34 PM

Shawn hints at why I've come to the opinion that an income tax surcharge might actually be the fairest way to pay for transit. Besides the fact that income taxes (unlike property taxes) are related to ability to pay, consider the vaguely Georgist concept that the reason people in northeastern Illinois enjoy such good incomes is the business nexus that public transport makes possible. Therefore, if the state constitution allowed such a thing, I would put a small additional income tax on residents within the RTA service area.

The property transfer tax is a similar idea, based on the idea that downtown office buildings trade for such high values because of the transport converging there. The problem with that theory is that office rents in Oak Brook or Prairie Stone, with virtually no transit, are not dramatically different from rents in the East Loop, which has some of the planet's best transit connections. So obviously there are other very localized factors at work.

emathias Apr 19, 2009 8:06 PM


Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 4203826)
Just saw this post now, but this is my point exactly. The notion that "oh, people just drive* there anyhow" is not a reason not to improve transit to the area. Do you want to see 5 or 6 more massive garages go up in Streeterville?

Besides, of course people are going to drive--you kind of have to when there is no other way to get there. But I still think it's a very very poor excuse.

* BTW, the notions that doctors "are going to drive anyhow" may be in fact true, but 1) doctors-in-training and medical students are much more likely to use mass transit if it's available, and 2) it's false to assume that doctors represent anything even close to a majority of employees in a hospital, let alone all of Streeterville.

I'm not sure why you're griping at me - I have repeatedly advocated a subway to Streeterville on these pages. I think doctors and senior nurses are likely to always drive, as are a lot of executive-level people, of which there are a lot in Streeterville, but at the same time I don't see that as an excuse by any means. Even at my most cynical, I'd still advocate a subway to the area so that the super-high-skilled types can still conveniently drive there and keep it attractive to them, while everyone else has a more efficient, reliable way to get there.

Abner Apr 19, 2009 8:40 PM

TUP already pointed it out, but it's worth repeating that doctors are an extremely small proportion of health care workers, and by extremely small I mean typically less than 5%. In fact BLS statistics show that people who provide medical services, including doctors, nurses of all kinds, and technicians (not everybody in this category makes a large salary), are only about 44% of health workers, with almost all the rest (besides administrators, basically) being taken up by medical support staff, office workers, and assorted other semi-skilled or working-class workers. I don't know for sure, but I would wager that the health sector does not employ relatively more high-wage, high-skilled workers than the legal or financial sectors so heavily represented in the Loop and West Loop. There's no reason to think hospitals would have fewer workers taking transit than other places of employment.

sentinel Apr 20, 2009 3:24 AM

That's a very informative graphic - thanks for that Mr. Downtown!

denizen467 Apr 22, 2009 3:35 AM

Since there's not much debate or posting here the last day or two, I thought I'd ask a sort-of-transportation-related trivia question (to which I do not know the answer):

Is there a specific place where the Chicago River South Branch ends and the Sanitary & Ship Canal begins? (Eyeballing the straightness of the waterway around Western seems to suggest it might be around there.)

ardecila Apr 22, 2009 5:26 AM

The Encyclopedia of Chicago says it begins at Damen. Historic maps of the South Branch show the river curving to the north at Damen; this remains in some form and you can see a little bit of the river's former curve in the outline of the turning basin that exists there.

ardecila Apr 22, 2009 7:11 PM

Orange Line Extension Meeting
TONIGHT is the Orange Line Alternatives Analysis meeting at Daley College. Sorry about the late reminder - I'm sure y'all have different plans for tonight....

The Yellow Line meeting will be on the 30th at Niles North High School.


Screen 2 Open House Presentations

The Chicago Transit Authority invites the public to an open house on preliminary Screen 2 findings and recommendation of a locally preferred alternative, which will conclude the Alternatives Analysis study for the Orange Line Extension. Previously in Screen 1 of the Alternatives Analysis study, CTA presented an assessment of transit improvement options which included a selection of transit vehicle types and potential corridors for an Orange Line extension. Extending the Orange Line from its existing south terminal at Midway Airport to a new terminal near the Ford City Mall would streamline bus-to-rail connections for numerous CTA and Pace bus routes.

An open house is scheduled as follows:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM (presentation will begin at 6:15 PM)
Richard J. Daley College
Lobby adjacent to auditorium
7500 South Pulaski Road
Chicago, Illinois 60652

*Facility accessible to people with disabilities.

Mr Downtown Apr 23, 2009 4:07 AM


Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 4209136)
[Sanitary & Ship Canal] begins at Damen.

Close enough, though we should remember that there was no street there at the time. The South Branch of the Chicago River forks just east of Ashland into the South Fork (Bubbly Creek) and the West Fork, which once originated a couple miles west of there, somewhere around Pulaski. Once the Sanitary & Ship Canal opened, the city asked to have the West Fork declared non-navigable, and it was later filled in except for the part between Ashland and Damen.

Chicago3rd Apr 23, 2009 4:58 AM


Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 4204071)
Shawn hints at why I've come to the opinion that an income tax surcharge might actually be the fairest way to pay for transit. Besides the fact that income taxes (unlike property taxes) are related to ability to pay, consider the vaguely Georgist concept that the reason people in northeastern Illinois enjoy such good incomes is the business nexus that public transport makes possible. Therefore, if the state constitution allowed such a thing, I would put a small additional income tax on residents within the RTA service area.

We can do that only after the northeast part of the state stops subsidizing the rest of the state.

sammyg Apr 23, 2009 6:00 PM

New CTA cars
The prototype trainsets were supposed to arrive "sometime in 2009" for testing before the full order arrived in 2010. Any news on when we might start seeing the prototypes? Probably not until the second half of the year, but I don't think I've heard anything since last summer.

Mr Downtown Apr 23, 2009 6:13 PM

^I'm told that some are on the test track in New York, but I don't think any have yet arrived at Skokie Shops.

nomarandlee Apr 24, 2009 2:30 AM


Chicago revitalization plan: Despite uncertainties, $15.5 billion proposal for downtown is moving forward
Transportation, parks and commercial space would be rejuvenated and expanded
By Jon Hilkevitch | Tribune reporter
April 24, 2009

...........Yet the Chicago Central Area Action Plan¿a road map filled with visions and goals as well as dozens of specific projects, construction timetables and estimated costs¿is expected to be approved by the City Council as early as next month.

Public transportation projects valued at $14.2 billion make up the bulk of the plan, which the Daley administration hopes to complete by 2020. Some elements would be fast-tracked if Chicago is selected this year to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.

............The needed transportation investment, which would come from city, state and federal capital funding as well as private-sector investment, would be in addition to $6.25 billion in regional transit projects that the CTA and Metra are expected to pursue, officials said. Those include the CTA's Circle Line linking CTA and Metra rail stations in the downtown and nearby neighborhoods; the extension of the CTA's Red, Orange and Yellow rail Lines; Metra's suburb-to-suburb STAR Line; and the commuter railroad's planned Southeast Service providing a rail link from Will and southern Cook Counties to the Loop.

In addition, the Central Area Action Plan calls for $1.3 billion in urban design, waterfront and open-space improvements.

The city's portion of the $15.5 billion total is $6 billion to $8 billion.

"Engineering and planning work must begin immediately upon the plan's adoption to reach either the 2016 or 2020 target," according to a draft report.

Planning experts said the action plan provides the follow-through to economic development and land-use goals spelled out in a 2003 city report for the central area, and is being implemented this year on the centennial of Burnham's plan.

They said the public should not be intimidated by the immense price tags associated with the projects, despite a pattern of serious cost overruns associated with public works programs in the city.

"If you zoom right into the numbers, they look huge. But in the context of the next several state and federal capital plans, this bold plan with its aggressive transportation investments will help the central business district reinvent itself and grow," said MarySue Barrett, president of the Metropolitan Planning Council.

The action plan is necessary because it provides the best picture of commercial growth, Barrett said.................

Chicago Shawn Apr 24, 2009 4:36 AM

Orange Line meeting
Went to the Alternative Analysis Meeting on Wendsday.

Happy to report that the BRT option has been dropped from the plan

The extension will be rail, extending south from Midway Station under 59th St, returning to grade, then passing under 63rd St, then inclining to go elevated over Marquette Rd (67th St), and over the clearing yard while swinging west towards Cicero Avenue. The extension will then go elevated over Cicero from 71st Street to 76th Street with a new terminal built over the street with the capability for future extensions south or west. The new bus terminal will be built on parking lots now owned by Ford City Mall, and a new 750 car Park n' Ride garage will be constructed there as well.

The proposed routing over the clearing yard to the east and along Kostner was dropped due to cost. The yard has less space to build bridge piers, necessitating a much costlier bridge. Cost estimate was pegged at $700 million Vs. $400 million for the Cicero option. The estimates are inflated to expected year of construction at a 3% inflation rate. There will be an operational savings with buses that can now end routes at Ford City, rather than going all the way up to Midway for each trip. As such, congestion at the Midway station will be reduced.

The extension will provide enough room for the Belt Railway to add a third track in the future.

Environmental Impact Study is to begin latter this year, a partial funding source has already been identified.

If all goes well with securing federal funding soon, the line can be operational in 6 years.

The possibility of infill stations between Midway and Ford City was dropped after a cost/benefit analysis was conducted for locations at 63rd and Marquette (67th). The density and commercial activity just is not there to justify overcoming expensive engineering and construction costs for stations at these locations.

A few images, North is to the left on the photos:

Held at the city college named after hissoner..

ardecila Apr 24, 2009 12:48 PM

Thanks, Chicago Shawn. This will be the first new elevated track over a road in Chicago since the Northwestern Elevated Railroad (now Brown Line).

the urban politician Apr 24, 2009 1:58 PM

^ Thanks for all the pics and the info, Shawn.

I'm just curious about dropping the infill stations. If low density is a reason not to have infill stations, then why build the Ford City extension at all? After all, it's not like there is anything on that part of Cicero that resembles the density of typical lakefront Chicago neighborhoods.

I'm a bit disappointed because there is a large district of hotels (around 64th, 65th street I believe?) in Bedford Park just west of Cicero that would seem to be well served by a station. Plus, there are a lot of vacant lots on the east side of Cicero down there whose development would be greatly accelerated by a new transit stop. Maybe it's just me, but it seems like a missed opportunity to build an entirely new rail transit extension just to add one new stop.

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