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ardecila Jun 13, 2007 7:11 PM

This is what happens when the governor is an ass who can't compromise.

Even in the best case scenario now, CTA gets another 1-year bailout and we go through this all over again later. The permanent solution is to raise sales taxes, to cover the costs of the increased services that RTA has added since the formula was created 25 years ago. The Trib is reporting that BOTH legislators and Blago are against the (meager) sales tax increase.

the urban politician Jun 14, 2007 1:36 AM

City to consider 'congestion fee' on downtown drivers

By Gary Washburn
Tribune staff reporter
Published June 13, 2007, 6:44 PM CDT
Should motorists pay a toll for the privilege of driving in Chicago's central business district?

Ald. Edward Burke (14th) believes it's a good time to raise the question.

Burke on Wednesday introduced a resolution calling for a City Council hearing on the feasibility of levying a "congestion fee" on drivers who set tire downtown.

"Can it reduce pollution? Can it reduce traffic? Can it raise a revenue stream to help out the beleaguered CTA?" Burke asked. "It's certainly a very complicated issue and one that should not be rushed into. But I thought that as long as London is doing it, as long as New York is [proposing] it, perhaps it is an idea that Chicago ought to consider."

How much would be charged, how would tolls be collected and how much money might be generated for the cash-strapped CTA are the types of information the alderman hopes to gather by listening to experts at the hearing.

Mayor Richard Daley said he has an open mind on the congestion-fee concept. But he also has reservations.

With their narrow streets and absence of alleys, London and New York are "completely different" from Chicago, he said.

"Are you going to put [the fee] on all the aldermen who drive every day?" Daley asked. "What about all the trucks coming downtown? What do you do with them?"

"Let's not rush to that and scare everybody off," the mayor declared. "We are trying to keep businesses here and . . . move businesses into the city."

headcase Jun 14, 2007 2:31 AM


Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 2895874)
City to consider 'congestion fee' on downtown drivers

"Are you going to put [the fee] on all the aldermen who drive every day?" Daley asked.



"What about all the trucks coming downtown?

See wasn't that easy?

honte Jun 14, 2007 4:44 AM

As much as I want funding for the CTA, I don't think this is a good idea. I think one more problem to keep tourists and locals from coming downtown to experience the city cannot be a good thing - many already think getting downtown is a huge pain and not always worth the trouble. The local industry relies on the presence of a large number of outsiders to support it.

VivaLFuego Jun 14, 2007 2:19 PM

Interesting concept. At least its turning the discussion towards innovative methods of public transit funding. I think it's an otherwise reasonable way to charge suburbanites for the roads they use but dont pay for (by not paying the city sticker fee). I think I'd be happier with a parking tax, though.

Marvel 33 Jun 14, 2007 9:22 PM

Commuters wait for answer on KRM
Here is a link for the map:

Commuters wait for answer on KRM

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Chicago, IL, US (NCS) - A critical deadline at the end of June may determine the fate of the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee (KRM) Commuter Rail plan, an initiative that would connect Milwaukee and Chicago lakeshore communities with nine stops in Wisconsin connecting to 25 communities on the Metra Union Pacific North line.

The proposed KRM Commuter Rail would be implemented along the existing Union Pacific Railroad track to about one mile south of the downtown Milwaukee passenger station. It would operate 14 daily round trips in a 33-mile corridor with nine stops in Wisconsin, and would carry an estimated 1.7 million passengers per year. Passengers would connect with Chicago's Metra commuter rail by changing trains at Kenosha, Wisconsin or Waukegan, Illinois. Kenosha is currently the end of the line for the northbound Metra.

On the commuter rail, stops are anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes apart, and diesel locomotives or self propelled vehicles pull two to several passenger coaches on a right-of-way that can be shared with freight trains. Passengers board at stations from platforms.

Numerous studies have been done to assess the economic, environmental and community impact that the KRM Commuter Rail would have on Wisconsin, Northeastern Illinois and Chicago.

The WiseRide (KRM corridor transportation alternative analysis) study found that commuter rail is a key component in developing the Milwaukee-Racine-Chicago economic corridor. Nationally recognized economists and planners agree that KRM could become one of the nation’s most important economic corridors if it is actively developed.

According to information from the KRM Commuter Link EIS and KRM Commuter Rail Community Impact Study, KRM would spur long-term development around stations, creating 71,000 jobs. The construction alone would create 3,160 jobs and have a $425 million impact on the area’s economy. Operations and maintenance for the rail would also create 126 jobs and $24 million annual impact on the economy.

The study also showed that it would become a reliable and affordable link to nearly one million existing jobs within one mile of stations between Milwaukee and Chicago, which would reduce state and local social service costs.

The rail would provide direct access to 1.97 million people within three miles of the nine Wisconsin stations and 25 Northeastern Illinois stations on the line.

Studies also show that the rail line would build property values and tax base. As an example, the Harbor Park development near the Kenosha Metra station was a brown field worth nothing, but now it is being developed into a 300 unit residential area. When the project is finished, it will be valued at over $100 million and will provide $2.5 million in annual property tax revenue.

KRM would likely create a wealth of new development within 1 mile of the new stations, which would translate to a property valuation of $7.8 billion and an increase in retail sales of $750 million. Planned development near KRM stations will bring up to 21,100 residential units and 12.13 million square feet of retail and office space.

Studies also show that KRM would allow for an essential urban economic infrastructure, and that without regional rail connections there is a disadvantage in attracting and retaining business, jobs and talent.

According to a study performed by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Institute for Survey and Policy Research released in January, the economic benefits and opportunities for tourism that the new rail line would bring are enormous. The report also reiterated the impact that the rail line would have on job growth and the positive effect of connecting regional markets.

“Companies such as SC Johnson, one of the largest employers in Southeastern Wisconsin and the state of Wisconsin, and others have already cited the need for this KRM commuter rail link to Northeastern Illinois to retaining and attracting qualified employees, and maintaining and expanding its presence in southeastern Wisconsin,” the report states.

The biggest concerns that Wisconsin residents and officials have about KRM are regarding finances. Some Wisconsin residents complained about the money going towards the ongoing KRM studies, not knowing the ultimate outcome of the proposed project, when many thought it should have been going toward improving existing buses.

According to Rich Schroeder, assistant city planner in Kenosha, a lot of large scale transit projects run into financial barriers. “The CTA has financial problems,” he pointed out at an AIA Chicago meeting on Wednesday. But Schroeder expresses that the long term payback of the KRM would be much more substantial than the short term cost of constructing it.

According to Schroeder, the Metra shows support for the KRM plan but will not provide financial assistance. The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Transit Authority or RTA, created by the state Legislature in 2005 to identify a local funding source for the proposed commuter line, is “keeping silent” on the issue, Schroeder said.

Pretty soon, everyone will know whether finances will make or break KRM. By the end of June, a federal funding application must identify a funding source for the local share of operating and capital costs, which would be approximately $4.2 million annually to be divided among Kenosha, Racine and Milwaukee. The new funding source must then be enabled by the state legislature.

On May 31st, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) of the state legislature voted “no” on adding the $13 rental car fee as a local funding source for KRM to the state budget. There were eight “yes” votes, all democrats, and eight “no” votes, all republicans. The next opportunity to add the local funding source approval to the state budget is during the Senate budget deliberation in mid-June.

If plans are approved and funding is secured, KRM Commuter Rail is expected to be in service by 2010 or 2011.

aaron38 Jun 15, 2007 4:44 PM


Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 2895874)
Burke on Wednesday introduced a resolution calling for a City Council hearing on the feasibility of levying a "congestion fee" on drivers who set tire downtown.

It's an interesting proposal, one I'm not completely unopposed to, but I don't see how it's workable.
Unlike Manhattan, there are 30 different ways to get into the Loop. Do we baracade every street with a toll booth? That's the biggest con.

I agree with VivaLFuego. I think we should attack it from the parking side. Right now if my wife and I go downtown to see a play, I can usually park for the same cost of two roundtrip Metra tickets. And then I don't have to listen to complaints about walking ten blocks in heels.

If there was a much higher parking surcharge, then it's the same cost to take the train and hop a cab.
And presto, one less suburbanite in his car, and no toll booths.

Plus, parking's only going to get harder as lots disapear. It'll just encourage that transition faster.

Chicago3rd Jun 15, 2007 5:23 PM


Originally Posted by honte (Post 2896321)
As much as I want funding for the CTA, I don't think this is a good idea. I think one more problem to keep tourists and locals from coming downtown to experience the city cannot be a good thing - many already think getting downtown is a huge pain and not always worth the trouble. The local industry relies on the presence of a large number of outsiders to support it.

We tax the hell out of the parking garages and make sure all the money from them goes towards increasing mass transit especially downtown....circulator, and and increase in Public Transportation coming into downtown.

Sounds strange for some people to be saying people are finding it harder to drive downtown when they refuse to use our roads. How about taxing cares from outside the city more at the booth's? Like we do the Museums and stuff?

MayorOfChicago Jun 19, 2007 2:08 AM

I was reading on CNN how only 7% of our nations House Reps have disclosed what they want included in their districts for the 2008 budget.

Rahm Emanuel was actually one of those 7% who agreed to openly disclose what he wanted in the budget.

Here's a link:

I liked many of the things included, education, art institute projects..

He also had the Circle Line, METRA line improvements, and Lincoln/Ashland and Milwaukee streetscape improvements.

ardecila Jun 19, 2007 7:23 AM

Yeah... just admit it, congressmen - you have as much pork as Old Country Buffet on Easter.

I don't understand why they won't admit to it, though... surely their electorate is happy that their representative is trying to bring in money....?

VivaLFuego Jun 20, 2007 12:17 AM

^ Unfortunately, pork is one of the primary ways that key infrastructure projects get done... local governments never raise enough money to pay for them, and capital funds based on formulas are typically inadequate to even cover necessary maintenance and rehabilitation of existing infrastructure., if his projects have merit, bring it on

MayorOfChicago Jun 20, 2007 12:27 AM

aaron38 Jun 20, 2007 12:49 PM

Since Silver Tower started construction this week I was looking at a map of the area. With the long gap on the brown line between the Chicago and Merchandice Mart stations, are there any plans or proposals to add a stop in the middle, around Grand or Ohio?

A new station there would let a lot of people in new developments like Grand Kingsbury and Silver tower ditch their cars.

Mr Downtown Jun 20, 2007 9:51 PM

No. The Mart station is only about 600 feet south of Grand.

I don't think people living in Silver Tower will drive to jobs in the Loop or the Ravenswood industrial corridor. Jobs in Oak Brook, maybe, but a new Brown Line stop won't save them much time.

VivaLFuego Jun 23, 2007 3:00 PM


Originally Posted by Lukecuj (Post 2914594)
i rode the orange alert line the other day and was totally pissed at the amount of gangfitti that was enscribed on recently cleaned areas a month ago....

There should be a special tactical police unit that focuses on CTA right of ways that get hit. Another thing that I would do, is plant vines and trees, along with lattices that promote plant growth along these row's most prone to attack. Greenery is relentless and unpaintable.

But what do I know, it's not like I'm Lori Healy ( the most inovative brain ) or anything.

Graffiti has been a major epidemic for the past year now, all over the city... by tactical police unit, do you mean sniper squad? 'cause then, I'm with you.

Busy Bee Jun 24, 2007 12:18 AM

^Agreed. The amount of bombed (large fill and outline letters) delivery trucks I've noticed in the past year are more than I've ever noticed in Chicago before. You usually only see that amount of graffiti in NY or San Fran in the the States. Also I've seen the glass of vacan storefronts get tagged up pretty harshly lately.

Marcu Jun 27, 2007 11:43 PM

Can someone with a little more insight analyze the CTA labor deal for us? ...Viva?

Much appreciated.

nomarandlee Jun 28, 2007 12:24 AM

Tentative agreement reached with CTA workers

By Gary Washburn
Tribune staff reporter
Published June 27, 2007, 2:38 PM CDT

Mayor Richard Daley today announced a tentative five-year contract agreement with Chicago Transit Authority workers, but said the deal is contingent on increased funding for the CTA from Springfield.

"This is a very important and historic resolution, because it shows the CTA and its employees are doing all they can to hold down costs and to make sure that customers, taxpayers and state legislators are getting their money's worth," Daley said at a City Hall news conference.

"Now it's time for the General Assembly to do its part on behalf of the CTA and its 1.5 million daily riders."

CTA President Ron Huberman said the transit agency needs about $200 million in the coming year to help cover operating and employee pension expenses, and a sustainable source of funding that would increase that figure by 3 percent a year.

If the state provides the money, heavy service cuts that have been proposed would be averted and there would be no fare increase in the coming year, he said.

Under the proposed contract, state approval also would be needed to issue pension obligation bonds. The Illinois Auditor General would get a seat on the transit authority's pension trust. Meanwhile, a health care trust would be created to manage health care benefits.

Employees would contribute more toward health care and pensions, and new hires would be able to retire with full benefits, at the earliest, at age 64. Current employees will continue to qualify at 55, assuming 25 years of service.

Meanwhile, pay would increase by 3 percent in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and by 3.5 percent in the final two years of the contract.

The pact, whose terms were dictated by an arbitrator, would apply to 10,200 employees, who make up 88 percent of the CTA's work force.

Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune

ardecila Jun 29, 2007 7:32 AM

The Orange and Pink Lines both have been created in the last 25 years to get more people downtown. A whole new Metra line was also created.

While transit improvements within downtown have been slow in coming, several transit improvements to SERVE downtown have been made. Look at the resistance that CTA is facing to increased funding right now. When you realize that that resistance has been present in various forms since the 1950s, I think it's amazing that we haven't LOST much in terms of actual service over the years, much less created one wholly new CTA line. The situation in downtown reflects the plight of the CTA as a whole; if they make it out of this budget crisis with a stable source of funding, you can bet that downtown improvements will be near the top of the list.

BTW - I've heard whispers that there might be enough support for the RTA sales-tax proposal to override Rod's veto. I really hope there is some truth there.

DHamp Jun 29, 2007 2:32 PM

Has anybody seen a rendering or model of the U/C south loop Metra station?

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