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arenn Apr 18, 2009 4:10 PM

Lots of politically driven routes versus reality driven routes on HSR. Why a 3C route in Ohio? Better to connect Columbus to Chicago via Indianapolis (intermediate stop in Dayton). The Pensy line is abandoned there, but since the only real viable high speed line is new terrain anyway, no problem. This route could share trackage with the Cincinnati line coming out of the southeast side of Indy.

jpIllInoIs Apr 18, 2009 5:20 PM

^ The goal of the 3 C's line is not to connect Chi-Col. It is to connect the 3C's and pick up Dayton also.

Anyway this is the Chicago Transit thread.

denizen467 Apr 18, 2009 5:32 PM

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...,5347805.story

Legislators get a taste of the worst of transit system
Crumbling facilities show need for more funds, agencies say
By Richard Wronski | Tribune reporter
April 18, 2009

At the risk of getting rust in the eye, eight lawmakers gazed Friday at the rougher edges of the Chicago area's mass transit network—a corroded metal roof at the Cicero Metra station; a decrepit, century-old 'L' platform and a cluster of beater-looking cars used on the Electric District line.

. . .

"We looked at the [CTA 'L'] station upstairs—how aging and ... falling apart it is," Sandoval said, referring to the 100-year-old 'L' platform at Madison and Wabash, which is overdue for a $50 million makeover.

. . .

---------------

What's the latest on the Wabash el stations rebuilding?

Nowhereman1280 Apr 18, 2009 5:39 PM

How about this excerpt from the article:

Quote:

Legislators have until May 31 in the legislative session to produce a public works program. The Regional Transportation Authority has called for a five-year, $10 billion state capital program to maintain, enhance and expand mass transit.

But legislators Friday hoped for a more modest $1 billion-a-year capital program financed chiefly by a hike in the state gasoline tax.
Even if its just $1 billion a year for Mass Transit, we could see an amazing amount of improvement in Chicago area transit very rapidly. I mean combine all the potential and already locked in federal transit dollars and renewed support on a state level and we are talking about probably almost $2 billion a year put into capital improvements on Chicago area transit alone...

the urban politician Apr 18, 2009 6:42 PM

^ With the May 31 deadline looming, it makes one all the more thankful that loony bin Blago is out of office

emathias Apr 18, 2009 9:17 PM

I was thinking today about how LSD cuts Grant Park and the Loop off the the Lakefront. Has the City ever considered radically re-routing LSD?

For example, where it splits into Columbus, instead of splitting east, descend into the trench currently used by South Shore and Metra Electric lines. To accomodate that, they could first dig a trench in the right of way to accomodate a new lower level for the Metra tracks until south of the Art Institute where the new LSD would veer back NE under the field to the east of the AI to return to ground level about where it curves now. If needed, once Metra Electric was one level down, another trench could be added for the express buses that run there now. Since LSD would branch east south of Monroe, it wouldn't even interfere with any future under-Monroe transitway. If you worked in ramp entrances/exits at Congress and Monroe or Randolph, you could do away with stop lights and increase the traffic flow. If the city gets rid of the stoplight at Chicago Ave per the Central Area Action Plan, LSD could become stop-light free from the Museum of Science and Industry to Hollywood. I'm guessing it'd cost upwards of a billion dollars, but it'd be far, far less expensive than the Big Dig was in Boston.

This would leave us with over a full mile of unobstructed access to the Lake. Car people would be happy, parks people would be happy, usability of Grant Park would increase.

Red could be LSD, yellow could be a lower trench for the rail lines.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3300/...d02160a0_o.jpg

simcityaustin Apr 18, 2009 9:33 PM

So if the Quad Cities are connected via rail to Chicago does that mean I live in a suburb of Chicago? ;)

Chicago Shawn Apr 18, 2009 10:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 4201975)
^ You're the expert, but to me it would seem to make sense for the BRT to go straight downtown and have stops in the Loop and Streeterville.

One, it avoids any need to transfer, and two, it's not all that easy to get to Streeterville using the Orange Line unless one made a second transfer at Roosevelt to the Red Line, rode it to River North, and then walked several blocks over.

Instead, take people straight downtown and let them ride the train west to the Illinois Medical District if that's their final destination.

Oh, I don't disagree with that. The problem is though, routing the bus express all the way to the Loop. It might be possible to continue eastbound via the shoulder all the way to LSD, and north up to Columbus Drive, with stops at Illinois Center and Streeterville; but I am pretty sure that the shoulder becomes too narrow once you reach the Dan Ryan. The issue with creating point to point service in the Loop is well, where exactly does the bus discharge the passengers for optimal point to point service, that would also have easy access. LaSalle Street station comes to mind, right off Congress and pretty close to the heart of the financial district. I think using the Loop elevated as a final distributor would work very well, giving a greater amount of accessibility to more destinations within the Loop, and time wise would probably be the same if not quicker than taking the bus all the way into the congested city center during rush periods.

Oh, I don't consider myself to be an expert, but thanks for the compliment. ;)

honte Apr 18, 2009 10:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 4202984)
If the city gets rid of the stoplight at Chicago Ave per the Central Area Action Plan, LSD could become stop-light free from the Museum of Science and Industry to Hollywood. I'm guessing it'd cost upwards of a billion dollars, but it'd be far, far less expensive than the Big Dig was in Boston.

emathias, as a true transit novice, I am all in favor of burying LSD. But since you're burying it anyway, I'd rather keep it in place and see the cash spent to bury Columbus and some of the east-west streets too.

I can't express what wonders the Big Dig has done for Boston. I agree that it would be a worthwhile project.

honte Apr 18, 2009 10:59 PM

Has Chicago ever considered creating a real bus terminal for public transit, similar to those in many US cities (aside from the West Loop Transit Center fantasy)? It seems the old Greyhound station, with its connection to Lower Wacker and easy connection to the State-Lake transfer station, would have been a perfect model and location.

As much as I love lower Wacker, I suppose I would give it up for true BRT and a real transfer station downtown.

I don't think people mind too much transferring between lines. I think what discourages it in Chicago is the relative lack of nice and convenient places to do it. Most places to transfer are out in the elements, kind of dingy, lacking amenities, etc.
relative lack of nice and convenient places to do it. Most places to transfer are out in the elements, kind of dingy, lacking amenties, etc.

the urban politician Apr 19, 2009 4:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago Shawn (Post 4203051)
Oh, I don't disagree with that. The problem is though, routing the bus express all the way to the Loop. It might be possible to continue eastbound via the shoulder all the way to LSD, and north up to Columbus Drive, with stops at Illinois Center and Streeterville; but I am pretty sure that the shoulder becomes too narrow once you reach the Dan Ryan. The issue with creating point to point service in the Loop is well, where exactly does the bus discharge the passengers for optimal point to point service, that would also have easy access. LaSalle Street station comes to mind, right off Congress and pretty close to the heart of the financial district. I think using the Loop elevated as a final distributor would work very well, giving a greater amount of accessibility to more destinations within the Loop, and time wise would probably be the same if not quicker than taking the bus all the way into the congested city center during rush periods.

^ Sounds okay, although it still doesn't address the Streeterville issue. Perhaps I am overestimating the importance of a transit connection to Streeterville? I have always felt that the large number of University, research, healthcare, and (to a small degree) media jobs in Streeterville deserved better transit access..

Nowhereman1280 Apr 19, 2009 5:16 AM

TUP no one from the suburbs is going to be commuting to Streeterville to work... There are only a handful of offices there and almost all of them are in that city services building on Columbus made of Corten steel. The bigger concern I think would be getting people to River North as more office buildings are built in that area...

alex1 Apr 19, 2009 6:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by honte (Post 4203109)
emathias, as a true transit novice, I am all in favor of burying LSD. But since you're burying it anyway, I'd rather keep it in place and see the cash spent to bury Columbus and some of the east-west streets too.

I can't express what wonders the Big Dig has done for Boston. I agree that it would be a worthwhile project.

I spend a lot of my free time in Boston so I can attest that the Big Dig has been a very successful project on multiple levels. But I still wonder if it was worth the $15 billion. I don't think it was.

LSD is perhaps the best designed water-edge highway I've ever seen built and naturally, Columbus Dr. is a smaller and more pragmatic problem to solve.

alex1 Apr 19, 2009 6:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280 (Post 4203551)
TUP no one from the suburbs is going to be commuting to Streeterville to work... There are only a handful of offices there and almost all of them are in that city services building on Columbus made of Corten steel. The bigger concern I think would be getting people to River North as more office buildings are built in that area...

?. Is this really accurate?

emathias Apr 19, 2009 7:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by alex1 (Post 4203624)
?. Is this really accurate?

It partly depends on what you define as "Streeterville," I suppose, and what you consider office jobs. Many jobs in hospitals are basically office jobs. Doctors probably mostly drive, as do the majority of shift workers, but that still leaves a lot of workers who do/can/could commute via transit. Most jobs in universities are basically office jobs. For specific buildings, the Onterie Building is partly commercial, as are Avenue Hotel building, NBC Tower, Time-Life Building, 680 N Lake Shore Drive, Affinia Hotel, 633 N St. Clair, Streeterville Center, 676 N St. Clair, ADA Building, AOA Building, 211 E Ontario, Searle Building, 233 E Ontario, Arthur Rubloff Building. In the Michigan Ave area, some of which a lot of people consider partly Streeterville, there's also 900 N Michigan, the Hancock Building, Olympia Center, 1 Magnificent Mile, City Place, FCB Building, Lewis Tower, and on the southern end, Equitable Building, 625 N Michigan, 500 N Michigan, 444 N Michigan, Tribune Tower, Wrigley Tower, and Realtor Building.

Additionally, there used to be more, but as someone else pointed out a while back, the wave of offices in Streeterville/N Michigan ebbed back after the subway to Streeterville fell off the Chicago transit radar. I think it's already heavily medical, education and marketing offices, but there could be more, especially along Wabash and St. Clair, and on the south on the empty parts of blocks near the NBC tower and Wrigley Building.

Currently, I think most suburban people who work outside the actual Loop probably drive. Not everyone, but most. I've known people in the Merchandise Mart who take Metra Electric from Frankfort and people who worked in the FCB building who took the Blue Line from Berwyn, but they're the exception and they still did drive sometimes.

the urban politician Apr 19, 2009 2:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280 (Post 4203551)
TUP no one from the suburbs is going to be commuting to Streeterville to work... There are only a handful of offices there and almost all of them are in that city services building on Columbus made of Corten steel. The bigger concern I think would be getting people to River North as more office buildings are built in that area...

^ 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.

the urban politician Apr 19, 2009 2:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 4203661)
It partly depends on what you define as "Streeterville," I suppose, and what you consider office jobs. Many jobs in hospitals are basically office jobs. Doctors probably mostly drive, as do the majority of shift workers, but that still leaves a lot of workers who do/can/could commute via transit. Most jobs in universities are basically office jobs. For specific buildings, the Onterie Building is partly commercial, as are Avenue Hotel building, NBC Tower, Time-Life Building, 680 N Lake Shore Drive, Affinia Hotel, 633 N St. Clair, Streeterville Center, 676 N St. Clair, ADA Building, AOA Building, 211 E Ontario, Searle Building, 233 E Ontario, Arthur Rubloff Building. In the Michigan Ave area, some of which a lot of people consider partly Streeterville, there's also 900 N Michigan, the Hancock Building, Olympia Center, 1 Magnificent Mile, City Place, FCB Building, Lewis Tower, and on the southern end, Equitable Building, 625 N Michigan, 500 N Michigan, 444 N Michigan, Tribune Tower, Wrigley Tower, and Realtor Building.

Additionally, there used to be more, but as someone else pointed out a while back, the wave of offices in Streeterville/N Michigan ebbed back after the subway to Streeterville fell off the Chicago transit radar. I think it's already heavily medical, education and marketing offices, but there could be more, especially along Wabash and St. Clair, and on the south on the empty parts of blocks near the NBC tower and Wrigley Building.

Currently, I think most suburban people who work outside the actual Loop probably drive. Not everyone, but most. I've known people in the Merchandise Mart who take Metra Electric from Frankfort and people who worked in the FCB building who took the Blue Line from Berwyn, but they're the exception and they still did drive sometimes.

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.

Chicago Shawn Apr 19, 2009 2:58 PM

Many of the suburban commuters to Streeterville use the rush period express CTA routes from Union and Ogilvie which run to Navy Pier via Lower Wacker. There is an additional express route up to Illinois Center from Union/Ogilvie as well. North Michigan Avenue has the #125 Water Tower Express bus, as well as the #33; and the local 124 services Streeterville as well and can be accessed by poeple who use the Metra Electric/South Shore Line. There are specific Metra monthly passes that one can buy allowing for a free transfer to these specific express runs serving the train stations. Additionally, Northwestern which is by far the largest Streeterville employer, provides its own commuter bus to the train stations.

Anyone who makes this commute from the Suburbs either uses the services provided or currently drives to work. I don't think a point to point Pace express will make too many car drivers suddenly switch over, as they will first drive to a park and ride and then switch to a bus. Many will say, "just may as well drive the whole way".

the urban politician Apr 19, 2009 3:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago Shawn (Post 4203827)
Anyone who makes this commute from the Suburbs either uses the services provided or currently drives to work. I don't think a point to point Pace express will make too many car drivers suddenly switch over, as they will first drive to a park and ride and then switch to a bus. Many will say, "just may as well drive the whole way".

^ I think this is a dangerous assumption, don't you?

After all, don't hundreds of thousands of Chicago suburbanites already drive to Metra park n rides instead of saying "well, I may as well drive the whole way"?

My whole point is, sure perhaps there may not be a demand for a bus from the SW suburbs to Streeterville, but Streeterville is a legit employment district downtown and it would behoove the city to not take it for granted that more and more parking can keep being provided. Even the new Central Area Action Plan does little to address transit to Streeterville besides the already existing bus service. The proposed Lakefront busway, for example, stops way too far south of the job-rich NWU/Prentice/Childrens Memorial area.

Chicago Shawn Apr 19, 2009 3:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 4203831)
^ I think this is a dangerous assumption, don't you?

After all, don't hundreds of thousands of Chicago suburbanites already drive to Metra park n rides instead of saying "well, I may as well drive the whole way"?

My whole point is, sure perhaps there may not be a demand for a bus from the SW suburbs to Streeterville, but Streeterville is a legit employment district downtown and it would behoove the city to not take it for granted that more and more parking can keep being provided. Even the new Central Area Action Plan does little to address transit to Streeterville besides the already existing bus service. The proposed Lakefront busway, for example, stops way too far south of the job-rich NWU/Prentice/Childrens Memorial area.

Yes, again I do not disagree, but my point is there already are services providing transit connections between Streeterville and Metra, including Northwestern's own bus. If someone drives in despite all of these services already being provided, then I yes, would assume they will still probably drive. Assuming the Pace express would take the same path as the current I-55 flyer, then the park n' ride location in Romeoville is really not that much farther away from existing Metra stations on the Heritage Corridor. Would more people ride the bus if commute time was guaranteed with didicated lanes? I certainly believe so. Will many more people ride it if the bus goes all the way up to Streeterville to justify the additional cost when other service already exists? Doubt it, although I could be wrong. I suppose a survey could be distributed among Northwestern's staff to determine if any live in the southwest suburbs, how they currently get to work, and would they chose to ride an additional bus option?

Nowhereman1280 Apr 19, 2009 3:29 PM

Quote:

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:

http://i40.tinypic.com/b4bw2x.png

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

Quote:

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.

Quote:

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

Quote:

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

Quote:

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

Quote:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...,3827781.story

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.................


jhilkevitch@tribune.com
..

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:

http://images2d.snapfish.com/2323232...73932%3Anu0mrj

http://images2d.snapfish.com/2323232...%3A32%3Anu0mrj

http://images2c.snapfish.com/2323232...%3B32%3Anu0mrj

http://images2c.snapfish.com/2323232...74232%3Anu0mrj

http://images2d.snapfish.com/2323232...74432%3Anu0mrj

http://images2d.snapfish.com/2323232...74332%3Anu0mrj

Held at the city college named after hissoner..
http://images2d.snapfish.com/2323232...74532%3Anu0mrj

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.

lawfin Apr 24, 2009 2:30 PM

^^^I agree 100% TUP...Unless there are future definite plans to add the infill stations. I mean is Ford City that much of a trip generator to warrant the investment.

VivaLFuego Apr 24, 2009 2:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 4213632)
^ 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.

The 3.0 million in annual project ridership implies around 9,000-10,000 new rail boardings on an average weekday, which is pretty substantial. There is a massive unmet need for downtown-oriented transit service in the southwest side, which generally means Park-n-Ride in lower-density areas (already overcapacity at Midway and Pulaski stations). The added bonus of the Orange Line extension, in addition to providing this additional downtown-oriented transit service in the area, is that it also happens to terminate at a substantial regional retail employment center (Ford City Mall and all the surrounding big box retail), which is good for a decent number of employment trips.

The question of infill stations, then, is simply one of Marginal Cost vs. Marginal Benefit - for the added cost of excavation/construction to build stations (and subsequently operate them), would you get enough marginal new rail transit riders above and beyond the 9,000-10,000 per average weekday? Remember, simply making existing transit riders' trips a little more convenient is usually not enough to meet federal cost-effectiveness thresholds, the project needs to create a substantial number of new transit trips (though it's worth noting that projects like the Red Line extension approach cost effectiveness solely through improving existing riders transit trips rather than generating new transit trips - but such projects are rare).

Chicago Shawn Apr 24, 2009 2:58 PM

^Yeah, I am excited about the prospect of new elevated track, although the Orange Line has a few sections of elevated structure built back in the early 1990's. So this would be the first new elevated track since then.

TUP, I made a few comments regarding a station to serve the hotel complex which does go as far south as Marquette Rd. It would serve the employees, but IMO, chances are many visitors will not walk across the 6 lanes of Cicero and then two blocks down to the potential station location, but would rather opt for the shuttle bus to the airport that already exists. Many of the hotel buildings would be located at least a half mile away when looking at total point to point distance, and while that may seem short to you and me, the average person who doesn't live in a urban setting would consider that to be not walking distance.

The argument against the station at Marquette is that the clearing yard takes up much of the walking distance radius around the station, lowering the amount of potential users even if the neighborhood was to increase in density. Additionally, the track is inclining at that point and begins to curve eastward; so adding a station here would be expensive.


63rd Street is too close to the Midway station, and the 63rd station would have to built in a partial subway layout under the street, which again would be expensive.

Ford City and its environs is a major employment center and trip generator. the mall also already serves as a major transfer point for multiple bus routes, including 79th Street, which is the highest ridership route in the city.

sammyg Apr 24, 2009 3:48 PM

^
The other thing about Ford City is that it's on the other side of the belt railway yard from the rest of the Orange Line, so this cuts across a natural barrier and allows people on the south side of the railyard to be tied into the L system.

jpIllInoIs Apr 24, 2009 3:57 PM

^ I would like to see the Orange line continue east along 79th and link with the Wrightwood Metra station.

bnk Apr 24, 2009 6:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nomarandlee (Post 4212974)
..

From the article

http://www.chicagotribune.com/media/...4/46476588.jpg



Nice detail on all of the projects here in pdf

http://www.chicagotribune.com/media/...4/46476638.pdf

Abner Apr 25, 2009 12:49 AM

Was there any mention made of whether the Orange Line extension will be compatible with a potential Mid-City Transitway? I assume there wouldn't be anything to prevent it.

Looks like nobody posted this extremely interesting story from yesterday about the NABI buses:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...,2883513.story

Quote:

CTA bus troubles: 225 accordion-style buses won't be back on street because of safety issues, officials say
Agency, bus manufacturer locked in court battle

By Jon Hilkevitch | Tribune reporter
April 24, 2009

About 225 accordion-style buses that the CTA removed from service in February after cracks and other structural defects were found will not be returned to the streets of Chicago, transit officials said Thursday.

...
There are lots of interesting details, it's worth reading. Pretty depressing story though.

denizen467 Apr 25, 2009 6:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 4213632)
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.

(As Shawn also said)The hotels might not consider it a major loss since they probably have frequent shuttles to the terminal, which their guests could use to get to Midway Station.

Also, I don't know, but maybe there is strong political sway against encouraging a major hotel cluster just outside Chicago's city limits when there could be one just inside the city and no less close to the airport.

This raises the separate question of: What are the plans for Cicero north of MDW to I55? It looks crappy and I think that's because there was always a threat of the Mid-City Expressway running through it. Is that what is still staving off development of hotels etc. there?

denizen467 Apr 25, 2009 6:52 AM

dp

Mr Downtown Apr 25, 2009 2:46 PM

What do you mean by plans? That part of Cicero is in the City of Chicago, which doesn't do any sort of comprehensive or city planning.

The frontage on Cicero is less than 125 feet deep, which pretty much prevents development as anything other than residential, for which demand is still low in that part of the city. The hotel cluster down at 65th didn't just spring up because of growing demand. It's a single developer who put together four hotel flags and a couple of chain restaurants on a former industrial parcel, and he probably did so based on having contracts with ATA or Southwest for crew overnights.


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