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Nowhereman1280 May 3, 2009 7:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago Shawn (Post 4227433)
Peace Time spending? You are aware of the two front war going on right now in Iraq and Afghanistan, right? That alone is sucking up a few billion each month.

Not that I agree that our current budget is justified by this, but its more like ten or twenty billion a month...

Quote:

Originally Posted by electricron (Post 4228399)
I'm not surprised cities with established transit systems want a larger slice of Federal revenues, but I disagree, the Feds should be spending more for new transit systems in cities without any.

On a national scale, there are far more voters in cities without any rail transit or with growing rail systems than in cities with established rail systems.

Ok, but remember that the current infrastructure used by the CTA was not built (with the exception of the subways and the Orange Line) by the government. Almost all of the EL was privately constructed (before Unions and federal subsidization of the automobile made it cost prohibitive) by private industry. When compared with cities like Dallas where the entire system has been constructed with public dollars, the CTA is has probably received billions less dollars from public coffers. I think its ridiculous that a public transit agency is running on privately constructed infrastructure from 120 years ago and receiving less money in some cases from the government than systems that are entirely government funded.

electricron May 3, 2009 11:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280 (Post 4229462)
Not that I agree that our current budget is justified by this, but its more like ten or twenty billion a month...



Ok, but remember that the current infrastructure used by the CTA was not built (with the exception of the subways and the Orange Line) by the government. Almost all of the EL was privately constructed (before Unions and federal subsidization of the automobile made it cost prohibitive) by private industry. When compared with cities like Dallas where the entire system has been constructed with public dollars, the CTA is has probably received billions less dollars from public coffers. I think its ridiculous that a public transit agency is running on privately constructed infrastructure from 120 years ago and receiving less money in some cases from the government than systems that are entirely government funded.

Look at the way FRA and FTA capital funds are appropriated to transit agencies. For the past decade or so, they have been targeted for NEW rail lines. If Chicago wants some of this cash, how about building some new rail lines and expand their system?

Eventually, these programs will be targeted for maintenance on established lines. But not now.

Chicago Shawn May 3, 2009 1:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 4229303)
I don't know if anybody went to the Yellow Line Extension Open House, but it occurred on April 30th. Since I'm down here in New Orleans, I couldn't exactly go myself, but CTA has been quite diligent about posting the presentation on their website quickly.

The analysis process narrowed it down to heavy rail, using the UPRR Alignment on an elevated structure with a fork to the east at 94, terminating in a station at the interchange of 94/Old Orchard Road. This station is not integrated with the mall, but it's not inconceivable that the mall could expand with a "Yellow Line concourse" lined with shops that links the station into the mall.

The project will also include a reconstructed Dempster Station, elevated over Dempster. Oddly, the expansion will be single-track. This lowers construction costs and fits better into a limited right-of-way, and CTA is, I assume, not expecting train frequencies to require two tracks.

Thanks for posting the images. The alignment was chosen to get as close to the mall as possible, without going onto the mall property. This is because the Westfield corporate office was very much opposed to running the line on their property; this was despite local management being fully in favor of the idea. I guess Westfield doesn't believe shoppers arrive by train, or perhaps they think having the train on mall property will lead to "security problems". Either way, its a little annoying. There are trip generators west of I-94 that could be serviced by this station including office buildings, Old Orchard Woods and the Circuit Court, but I doubt many will be walking across the rebuilt interchange which will only make the area less pedestrian friendly.

Mr Downtown May 3, 2009 1:58 PM

Various decisions made by the consultants and other players have turned this into a why bother project. Having determined that the line could not have grade crossings, and that the powerline pylons could not be relocated, they end up with a single-track extension (to avoid powerline sag) that nonetheless requires demolition of the new Dempster Station and still doesn't quite get to Old Orchard.

Given the dispersed nature of the destinations, which are both east and west of the Edens, probably a better idea would be to just turn the ROW into a busway that shuttle buses from the mall, the courthouse, Old Orchard Woods, etc., could use for a quick nonstop run to Dempster Terminal.

Chicago Shawn May 3, 2009 2:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by electricron (Post 4229538)
Look at the way FRA and FTA capital funds are appropriated to transit agencies. For the past decade or so, they have been targeted for NEW rail lines. If Chicago wants some of this cash, how about building some new rail lines and expand their system?

Eventually, these programs will be targeted for maintenance on established lines. But not now.

And connect to those new rail lines to what, a 120 year old system that is literally falling apart in places? The trains have had to slow down to 6 MPH in places because the tracks and structure beneath them is in such poor shape. In order to step up maintenance, CTA had to borrow against future funding with interest. In order to even rebuild the existing lines, former CTA presdient Frank Kursi was able to manipulate New Starts funds to pay for reconstruction rather than new construction, probably because the alternative would be shutting the line down.

Chicago Shawn May 3, 2009 2:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 4229622)
Various decisions made by the consultants and other players have turned this into a why bother project. Having determined that the line could not have grade crossings, and that the powerline pylons could not be relocated, they end up with a single-track extension (to avoid powerline sag) that nonetheless requires demolition of the new Dempster Station and still doesn't quite get to Old Orchard.

Given the dispersed nature of the destinations, which are both east and west of the Edens, probably a better idea would be to just turn the ROW into a busway that shuttle buses from the mall, the courthouse, Old Orchard Woods, etc., could use for a quick nonstop run to Dempster Terminal.

I agree 100%, but if the cost estimates come out about even, then rail is probably a better option. A one-seat ride option is preferable for attracting users, has lower emissions and lower operational costs. I would imagine that bus connections to the court house can still be done by just utilizing the existing CTA 205 route, and two PACE Routes, the 208 and 422. 54A can be short turned at Dempster Street for some additional savings.

sammyg May 3, 2009 3:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago Shawn (Post 4229631)
And connect to those new rail lines to what, a 120 year old system that is literally falling apart in places? The trains have had to slow down to 6 MPH in places because the tracks and structure beneath them is in such poor shape. In order to step up maintenance, CTA had to borrow against future funding with interest. In order to even rebuild the existing lines, former CTA presdient Frank Kursi was able to manipulate New Starts funds to pay for reconstruction rather than new construction, probably because the alternative would be shutting the line down.

But where do they get the maintenance money? They can't reject the funding for new rails and get funds for something else instead.

whyhuhwhy May 3, 2009 3:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago Shawn (Post 4227433)
Peace Time spending? You are aware of the two front war going on right now in Iraq and Afghanistan, right? That alone is sucking up a few billion each month.

What kind of question is that? No I wasn't aware we were still spending money on a war with Iraq and Afghanistan. :jester: One thing for sure, there is no global world war going on right now!

whyhuhwhy May 3, 2009 3:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago3rd (Post 4227445)
My response was to the word “Unprecedented” being used. Is the spending now “Unprecedented”? I get tired of the hysterical libertarians.

Have you read what the Transportation stimulus dollars for our state is? It's pathetic. It's all road resurfacing! Nothing new! http://www.dot.state.il.us/stimulus/index.html

We are creating new debt that makes the old debt look like peanuts. And for what? Stuff like that? If we can't question what the heck we are getting for our money what the heck does that say? It's sad that when you only QUESTION the massive spending we are doing right now you are just written off as a "hysterical libertarian." Come on let's grow up here and not make this personal. Is it wrong to question all this new debt just because Obama and not Bush is the one creating it? That seems to be the tone in here. Can we get past that in this forum? As someone helping pay for all this, you said it yourself, we should at least know what we are getting for the dollar. Not sure why we just only trust the politicians and hand over the keys with no discussion just because the United States Government in 2009 now looks like Illinois rather than Texas. $8 billion for things like high speed rail is great but it gets lost in the $787 billion in massive spending we are doing on other things that are not investment quality IMO.

the urban politician May 3, 2009 4:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 4229622)
Various decisions made by the consultants and other players have turned this into a why bother project. Having determined that the line could not have grade crossings, and that the powerline pylons could not be relocated, they end up with a single-track extension (to avoid powerline sag) that nonetheless requires demolition of the new Dempster Station and still doesn't quite get to Old Orchard.

Given the dispersed nature of the destinations, which are both east and west of the Edens, probably a better idea would be to just turn the ROW into a busway that shuttle buses from the mall, the courthouse, Old Orchard Woods, etc., could use for a quick nonstop run to Dempster Terminal.

^ Count me in as one of those why bother people.

If the assholes at Westfield are against extending the rail line onto their property, which is silly because the whole idea of the Yellow Line extension is to extend the rail line to Old Orchard Mall (from which I'm sure Old Orchard merchants will benefit), then let them go fuck themselves (a lingo we often use in New York).

They seem to do fine without the train extension, and pretty much all of the retailers that Old Orchard has already exist in the city. Why should the CTA bother with this expensive extension?

Chicago Shawn May 3, 2009 4:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by whyhuhwhy (Post 4229727)
What kind of question is that? No I wasn't aware we were still spending money on a war with Iraq and Afghanistan. :jester: One thing for sure, there is no global world war going on right now!

It was a rhetorical question. This is not a time of global war, but this certainly isn't peace time, and the budget reflects that. That is all I was responding to.


Quote:

But where do they get the maintenance money?
There will be some operational savings from short turning the 54A, and ridership growth will bring in some more farebox revenue. Whether or not that offsets the additional maintenance costs, I don't know.

Chicago Shawn May 3, 2009 4:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 4229772)
^ Count me in as one of those why bother people.

If the assholes at Westfield are against extending the rail line onto their property, which is silly because the whole idea of the Yellow Line extension is to extend the rail line to Old Orchard Mall (from which I'm sure Old Orchard merchants will benefit), then let them go fuck themselves (a lingo we often use in New York).

They seem to do fine without the train extension, and pretty much all of the retailers that Old Orchard has already exist in the city. Why should the CTA bother with this expensive extension?

The local management was very much in favor of the extension coming to the doorstep of the mall. I have heard they were even talking expansion plans around it. It was Westfield Corportate down in Australia that was opposed. I think it will still generate increased ridership, but the alignment is disappointing. The terminal is in the worst location for pedestrian connections, making people walk through parking lots to the mall; and its too difficult to walk west of the Edens for the average person to do it willingly. The single track also rules out future extensions and restricts headways. I can see delays already at Dempster, should a train leave Old Orchard behind schedule. I do believe that the mall will probably grow towards the train over time, placing expansions on the open lots.

ardecila May 3, 2009 5:19 PM

The problem I see is that the main intervening parking lot between the station and the mall is owned not by Westfield but by the mid-rise modernist office building. Some sort of deal would have to be struck to trade their parking for parking in CTA's garage, and then Westfield would have to buy the land and build on it. In short, it seems pretty unlikely, even though I did say it was possible earlier.

What is perhaps a little more possible is that the reconstruction of the Old Orchard Road interchange will offer a more complete set of sidewalks, perhaps with crossing signals, safety barriers, and streetscaping, and this project will also include expanded sidewalks along Old Orchard Road both east and west of the interchange to accommodate pedestrian travel.

The government of Skokie seems fairly enlightened in their approach to transit, so surely they would recognize this problem and either improve it themselves or push CTA to do it.

OhioGuy May 3, 2009 5:40 PM

What's so bad about the location of the yellow line at Old Orchard Road? It's barely a two block walk from the station to the mall. And as pointed out, the mall will have the option to expand toward the station in the future. Yeah, it's not exactly ideal having people walk alonside or through the parking lots that currently occupy the space between Old Orchard and the proposed station, but it's still only two blocks. And regarding the office parks on the other side of the Edens, they're still within walking distance. The location of this station keeps just about everything (the mall, high school, office parks, and the hospital) within a 10 minute or less walk from the proposed station.

As for a single track, that doesn't seem to be that big of an issue to me either. It's not likely the yellow line would be extended in the future because that's just extending the line further & further into the suburbs. If you live beyond Skokie, you might as well go to a Metra station to get into the city rather than taking a CTA train that has many many many stops along the way. And in terms of frequencies, how much time is it estimated a train will take to travel from Dempster to Old Orchard and back?

Mr Downtown May 3, 2009 7:28 PM

^What's bad is that it's a long unpleasant walk to any of the actual destinations. Even the walk to the mall would be long enough that only employees would ever actually do it. There's a big psychological difference between a 1300-foot walk through a suburban parking lot and a 1300-foot walk down Michigan Avenue. And a long walk from the terminal west to an office building, over the top of the Edens and then past the entrance ramps and forest preserve and parking lots, is something that only the nondriving immigrant cleaning staff would ever even attempt. Look at the infinitesimal number of employees in Cumberland Road office buildings who arrive via the Blue Line.

the urban politician May 3, 2009 7:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OhioGuy (Post 4229868)
What's so bad about the location of the yellow line at Old Orchard Road? It's barely a two block walk from the station to the mall. And as pointed out, the mall will have the option to expand toward the station in the future. Yeah, it's not exactly ideal having people walk alonside or through the parking lots that currently occupy the space between Old Orchard and the proposed station, but it's still only two blocks. And regarding the office parks on the other side of the Edens, they're still within walking distance. The location of this station keeps just about everything (the mall, high school, office parks, and the hospital) within a 10 minute or less walk from the proposed station.

^ What's wrong is that an organization known as the CTA is trying to extend a mass transit line to connect hundreds of thousands of train riders to a shopping center, and instead of appreciating it the foreign-based owner of the shopping center is being a total douche bag about it, even ignoring its own management. So why waste the time and energy? Let Old Orchard have its car-only access for another 50 years and lets focus on mass transit expansions elsewhere.

This is EXACTLY why we should focus more on projects like the Clinton subway, Carrol Ave/Clinton transitway, etc where building mass transit actually makes sense.

ChicagoChicago May 4, 2009 12:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago3rd (Post 4227445)
My response was to the word “Unprecedented” being used. Is the spending now “Unprecedented”? I get tired of the hysterical libertarians.

Are you really trying to argue that the current spending is NOT unprecedented? The link you showed cited WWII as the largest federal spending in relation to GDP. A time when we committed nearly 2 million soldiers to the war, and countless people back home supporting it. That's what you compare our current spending to? Your argument is an EPIC FAILURE.

denizen467 May 4, 2009 12:14 AM

How much prospect would there be for Old Orchard Terminal to become a big park-n-ride facility?

ardecila May 4, 2009 12:46 AM

That's the point... bringing the park-n-ride business of the Yellow Line closer to the Edens where it's more accessible and visible to regional traffic. Garages are planned at Old Orchard and (I think) Dempster. Some of the garage at the Old Orchard station will be dedicated to providing replacement spaces for Niles North, who is trading away their parking lot. However, higher stories of the garage would be set aside for CTA riders.

Unfortunately, this gigantic garage will only serve as one more impediment between the new station and the mall, as if 1/4 mile of surface lots wasn't enough.

Dammit, why does CTA make such half-assed connections to everything? Back in the day, department stores would beg to have their own connections into the CTA system - Carson Pirie Scott used to have connections to the Loop and to the State Street Subway, and the Merchandise Mart still has its connection. Recently built connections, however, tend to be highly inconvenient. At Midway, you have to walk a really long way - not fun with heavy suitcases - and go up and down several flights of stairs. At Clinton, you have to walk down the stairs, down to the Randolph concourse (if it's open) then up another flight of stairs to get to the platforms at Ogilvie.

Business leaders in the city love the CTA for bringing their employees to work, but when it comes to any sort of concrete statements of support, they all scoff and cite security concerns. It's high time that we started getting some property owners who welcome CTA service to their buildings.

wrab May 4, 2009 1:39 AM

^ Yeah - it boggles my little mind that any retail operator would eschew a dedicated transit link.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Downtown (Post 4229990)
^What's bad is that it's a long unpleasant walk to any of the actual destinations. Even the walk to the mall would be long enough that only employees would ever actually do it. There's a big psychological difference between a 1300-foot walk through a suburban parking lot and a 1300-foot walk down Michigan Avenue. And a long walk from the terminal west to an office building, over the top of the Edens and then past the entrance ramps and forest preserve and parking lots, is something that only the nondriving immigrant cleaning staff would ever even attempt. Look at the infinitesimal number of employees in Cumberland Road office buildings who arrive via the Blue Line.

I can attest to that, having done such a walk once last year en route to the Apple Store, close to the Christmas holiday, when there was scant parking available. I had trouble just finding a sidewalk. The mall exists in that special kind of American hell that is all paved lots, auto exhaust, and fast food joints.

Chicago3rd May 4, 2009 2:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChicagoChicago (Post 4230343)
Are you really trying to argue that the current spending is NOT unprecedented? The link you showed cited WWII as the largest federal spending in relation to GDP. A time when we committed nearly 2 million soldiers to the war, and countless people back home supporting it. That's what you compare our current spending to? Your argument is an EPIC FAILURE.

It is factually percentage wise not unprecedented. It doesn't matter where the money goes to...WWII or now....it isn't unprecedented. Unprecedented would be above WWII.

denizen467 May 4, 2009 3:55 AM

I guess one thing that a big park-n-ride garage at Old Orchard would do is open up, to people living in Glenview, Skokie, Niles, and places nearby, the possibility of taking the el to Wrigley Field or to music concerts (Aragon, Riviera, Vic, Park West, Metro, Morse Theater, etc etc) or myriad other places along the Red Line that aren't particularly accessible using Metra.

Many might even realize they can have an extra beer or two at the game or concert because it would wear off by the time they return to their car at Old Orchard.

In fact the only other really public park-n-ride facility I can think of on the Purple Line is the giant Evanston municipal garage across from Davis Street Station (not sure about Central Street Station and Wilmette has small capacity). So this is kind of a new concept for the northern suburbs that might invite new uses.

Mr Downtown May 4, 2009 5:04 AM

How would a Park 'n Ride at Old Orchard differ a great deal from the existing one on Dempster Street in encouraging transit use?

denizen467 May 4, 2009 5:24 AM

Admittedly I'm not very familiar with the Dempster station; I've only driven by and haven't taken a close look at it. But I'm pretty sure there isn't a large parking garage as with Old Orchard - and is Dempster parking even covered? Also, maybe it's just me, but I feel traffic and navigation are easier around Old Orchard, while Dempster is more congested.

Regarding users who would be making only the occasional trip into the city, one other difference is that most people couldn't find Dempster Station on a map without hunting for it, while Old Orchard is much more of a no-brainer. The easy recognition of being right on I-94 and right at the biggest shopping center in the region means it's "top-of-mind" information, making it less of a psychological jump for many people to find and use, especially if coming by highway. It would also be an easier place for groups of people to pick as a meeting place, especially with things to do (and eat) nearby while waiting for other people in the group.

But more generally, by reaching further north into the more "suburban-y" suburbs (in contrast to Skokie, kind of urban), you may be attracting people who really haven't been public transit users. And the idea of 11 minutes allllll the way to Howard would be pretty attractive to some.

Edit: Forgot one big point: Old Orchard extension ---> big jump in Yellow Line ridership ---> economically viable to extend operating hours and increase frequences (wishful thinking?), which benefits all Yellow Line stations.

denizen467 May 4, 2009 5:47 AM

I'll also add the thought that the growing number of people buying condos or renting in Downtown Evanston - many of whom live there so that they don't have to use a car - suddenly can get to Old Orchard (without dealing with any buses). Travel time would be like 20 minutes, excluding waiting at Howard. NU undergrads also could be a group that finds this particularly appealing. Perhaps this would also slightly increase the appeal for others to move into the downtown there - Old Orchard being one of the (top 5?) biggest (non-outlet) malls in NE Illinois.

Since the 1980s and 1990s saw a bunch of retail decamp Downtown Evanston for Old Orchard, this kind of reunites residents with a full complement of shopping options once again (though it be a capitulation to suburbia's dominance, alas).

ardecila May 4, 2009 6:30 AM

^^ That seems a little crazy. I doubt many downtown Evanston residents or Northwestern students are going to go out of the way to Howard just to get to Old Orchard when several Pace and CTA buses would do the job without a transfer.

A suburban transportation story with regional implications:

Prairie Parkway: A road to nowhere?
U.S. Rep Bill Foster has other ideas for his district's use of funding for the proposed outer-belt expressway

Tribune staff reporter Mike Dorning in Washington contributed to this report | Tribune reporter
May 4, 2009

The fate of the Prairie Parkway remains uncertain barely six months after Congress approved $207 million for the fiercely debated highway that would cut a swath through Kendall County.

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, a freshman Democrat whose 14th District would be bisected by the controversial outer-belt, is trying to pull the plug on what would be the Chicago region's latest major highway. Instead, he wants to spend the money on other road projects but will need congressional approval to do so.

Funding was earmarked for the parkway by Foster's high-profile predecessor, former Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who resigned last year.

Some were skeptical that Foster could tamper with Hastert's pet project, but with a Democratic administration and Congress now in charge, he may have a good chance, observers say.

----

Foster and many parkway opponents believe the federal money would be better spent by improving existing highways, such as Illinois Highway 47 and bridges across the Fox River.

Foster also wants to widen Eola Road in Aurora from two to four lanes to eliminate a traffic bottleneck.

Rick Powell, the Prairie Parkway project manager at IDOT, said the state has no immediate plans to begin work.

---------

Jan Strasma is leader of the opposition coalition that calls the highway a "sprawlway" which will bring uncontrolled growth and wreak environmental damage.

"We would like to pronounce it dead," Strasma said, "but it's still on life support, and until the funding issues are ironed out at the federal and state level, I don't think we can pronounce it dead."

VivaLFuego May 4, 2009 4:30 PM

As long as its relatively easy (and, specifically, free) to park at Old Orchard, transit usage to access the mall will be fairly limited, and primarily consist of employees. That's not necessarily a bad thing - the same is basically true of the Orange Line extension to Ford City and South Cicero Ave. But if there's an easy and free option to drive, people with car access will generally choose to drive by an overwhelming share. The main question in cost-effectiveness then would be to what extent the extension does open up untapped markets for CTA rapid transit service and the places it serves. The Orange Line extension intuitively is a very strong candidate due to massive unmet demand for Loop-oriented transportation from the southwest side. I haven't seen the demand modeling for the Yellow Line extension, but I'm skeptical that there is a great deal of demand that isn't already met by some combination of the Dempster Park-n-Ride lot and Metra service. That said, if the single-track extension keeps costs low enough that it becomes cost-effective, then why not continue to pursue it? I believe travel time between Dempster and Old Orchard will be somewhere in the vicinity of 3-4 minutes, meaning service demand would have to increase dramatically before the single-track segment reached any capacity constraint.

Chicago Shawn May 4, 2009 7:10 PM

I took a look at the cost projections of the Yellow Line extension...

The locally preferred alternative as proposed: $270 Million Capitol cost, $1.9 Million Operational and maintenance.
Both the trench option and running all the way up the old ROW to Old Orchard are projected to be more expensive.


BRT: $40 Million capitol cost, $1.4 Million Operational and maintenance.

Projected ridership: 2 million with rail vs. 300,000 by BRT.

I think that this is justified. If ridership projections hold true, than an average paid fare of $1.00 per person would more than pay for the operational costs. Build it.

http://www.transitchicago.com/assets...il_30_2009.pdf

Chicago Shawn May 4, 2009 8:21 PM

On the Prairie Parkway...

Hallelujah! Hopefully we can shelve this project once and for all. The real need for road expansions in this part of the metro are more bridge connections for the Fox River and selected road widening. For whatever reason, the Prairie Parkway plan calls for not only building the expressway but also widening Route 47 which parallels the proposed routing. This is wasteful redundancy, especially when most of the land in western Kane County has been targeted for agricultural preservation.

the urban politician May 4, 2009 9:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago Shawn (Post 4231543)
I took a look at the cost projections of the Yellow Line extension...

The locally preferred alternative as proposed: $270 Million Capitol cost, $1.9 Million Operational and maintenance.
Both the trench option and running all the way up the old ROW to Old Orchard are projected to be more expensive.


BRT: $40 Million capitol cost, $1.4 Million Operational and maintenance.

Projected ridership: 2 million with rail vs. 300,000 by BRT.

I think that this is justified. If ridership projections hold true, than an average paid fare of $1.00 per person would more than pay for the operational costs. Build it.

http://www.transitchicago.com/assets...il_30_2009.pdf

^ If the extension is one track then I imagine that trains will only be inbound or outbound during certain times of the day, right?

So if I lived downtown and wanted to take the train to Old Orchard Mall at 8 am on a Tuesday would it even be possible, since that is during rush hour and I would assume that all trains would be inbound?

Mr Downtown May 4, 2009 9:22 PM

No, it's only about 1.5 miles/4 minutes from Dempster to Old Orchard. (That's one of the things that makes this why bother.) So you can just shuttle to Old Orchard and back along a single track at 10 minute headways.

the urban politician May 4, 2009 9:27 PM

^ I've generally been with you with the why bother argument (although Shawn's cost analysis is quite compelling), but I don't see a 4 minute difference as one of the reasons not to build it.

Four minutes at, say 30 mph, is certainly not that short of a distance. Add to that the fact that there is a college, a school, and the region's largest shopping mall at the end of the line, and it makes sense to go the extra short distance. My issue, of course, is the unwillingness of the mall owner to cooperate--to me that's the real kicker.

SkokieSwift May 5, 2009 12:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by denizen467 (Post 4230782)
Admittedly I'm not very familiar with the Dempster station; I've only driven by and haven't taken a close look at it. But I'm pretty sure there isn't a large parking garage as with Old Orchard - and is Dempster parking even covered? Also, maybe it's just me, but I feel traffic and navigation are easier around Old Orchard, while Dempster is more congested.

There is a rather large park-n-ride lot (776 spaces) @ the Dempster Station.

Quote:

Originally Posted by denizen467 (Post 4230782)
Regarding users who would be making only the occasional trip into the city, one other difference is that most people couldn't find Dempster Station on a map without hunting for it, while Old Orchard is much more of a no-brainer. The easy recognition of being right on I-94 and right at the biggest shopping center in the region means it's "top-of-mind" information, making it less of a psychological jump for many people to find and use, especially if coming by highway.

Well, there's a Dempster exit off 94, and the station is only a half mile or so to the east, so finding the station should be a no-brainer.

. . .

However, if my screen name isn't obvious enough, I support the yellow line extension to Old Orchard and Oakton infill station (grew up 3 blocks from there), as well as additional infill stations for east Skokie and Evanston. As long as it stays SWIFT between the stations!

Mr Downtown May 5, 2009 1:44 AM

The ridership projections are pretty suspicious. If memory serves, they're predicting 3000 daily boardings at Old Orchard, when Dempster only has 1600. It's a long unpleasant walk to the office buildings or Old Orchard Woods. The "university" is a commuter college that nearly all students will continue to drive to in between jobs or other responsibilities. The high school is not attended by students living near either of the other two stops.

Now if the village had the courage to do Buckhead-style redevelopment of the single-family houses on the north side of Old Orchard Road, it might make sense as a regional investment. But otherwise, I say use $30 million to build a bus roadway, put the other $240 million in the bank and use the interest to run shuttle buses in perpetuity from Dempster to all four destinations.

Abner May 5, 2009 3:00 AM

Is it generally agreed that an extension to Old Orchard is a higher priority for the Yellow Line than an infill station or two on the current route?

If I were to decide how to spend $270 million on transit in the northern suburbs, I think I would choose to rehab the Purple Line before extending the Yellow. Of course, I have no idea how much the Purple Line would require to get to a state of good repair.

denizen467 May 5, 2009 6:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SkokieSwift (Post 4232143)
There is a rather large park-n-ride lot (776 spaces) @ the Dempster Station.

Thanks for checking. But, where? I took a look at an aerial photo. I see very little near the station. I also see nothing covered, which would be a deal killer for many prospective rail users.

Quote:

Originally Posted by SkokieSwift (Post 4232143)
Well, there's a Dempster exit off 94, and the station is only a half mile or so to the east, so finding the station should be a no-brainer.

A no-brainer because you're from there.
Wading a half-mile into a suburb you've never been to, and a quasi-suburban, quasi-suburban one like Skokie, in a relatively visually monotonous area of 1960s-1970s architectural duds and strip malls and drive-thrus with few distinctive geographic features, is not a no-brainer. It's at least a little-bit-brainer, at least for the psychology of most car-centric suburbanites. You really have to set the hurdle low to get some people to use trains.

Also, can I just say, I'm very sorry but "let's meet in Skokie" or "Oh I usually just drive to Skokie" is still one of the most un-sexy things you can say in a group of people. Especially Glenview/etc/Northshore residents. "Old Orchard" has a little more of a chic ring to it (despite technically being in .. Skokie). It sounds superficial, but to a lot of people, most of Skokie is just a black hole or monotonous no-man's land betwen the Edens and the North Shore Channel. You figure out where the station is once, and ultimately you've forgotten the geography when the occasion arises to try the train again. I'm not taking pleasure in harshin' on Skokie or most of Skokie; just saying one of the prevailing outsiders' views is relevant here.

For Old Orchard, everyone knows where it is, you never forget where it is, it is not (or is less) visually unpleasant to pass through, and there is stuff to do and plenty of covered parking there. That is a no-brainer.

(Much of the above serves an addition to my initial response to Mr. Downtown's question about advantages of an Old Orchard park-n-ride over Dempster.)

denizen467 May 5, 2009 6:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Abner (Post 4232350)
Is it generally agreed that an extension to Old Orchard is a higher priority for the Yellow Line than an infill station or two on the current route?

If I were to decide how to spend $270 million on transit in the northern suburbs, I think I would choose to rehab the Purple Line before extending the Yellow. Of course, I have no idea how much the Purple Line would require to get to a state of good repair.

I think the rehab would not be eligible for new starts funding.

Abner May 5, 2009 6:47 AM

Yeah, that part confuses me. We rehabbed the Douglas branch using New Starts funding, but presumably the Purple Line is not in such horrible shape that the same arguments the CTA made for that project would apply. I really hope the New Starts program gets some degree of reform; it drags project planning out, but more important, it illogically biases funding away from maintenance and repair.

ardecila May 5, 2009 7:14 AM

The Douglas branch didn't receive New Starts money because it was in worse shape than the Purple Line, but because Frank Kruesi had the political pull in Washington to get USDOT to accept the rehab project as a New Start. Same goes for the Green Line. Once you've got the important people agreeing with you, the spin is easy.

With strict New Start nazis in Washington, it's doubtful that even the Brown Line project would have passed, since it involved 0 new miles of rail.

I don't think a Purple Line renovation will be in the works for New Start funding anytime soon. Think about this: in the next 6-8 years, if everything goes according to the CAAP, CTA will be looking for New Starts funding for the following projects:

Red Line Extension
Orange Line Extension
Yellow Line Extension
Circle Line
Clinton Street Subway
Carroll Street Transitway
Monroe Street Transitway
Lakefront Transitway

Those are EIGHT major, major projects. Some of these may be combined, but the figures add up the same. The Lakefront Transitway is probably the smallest on the list, since 80% of it already exists, and the Circle Line will not be the complex rail line that everyone expected, most likely some form of busway instead. Regardless, we're talking ~$10 billion of transit projects here, and that's not even including the other things that are being discussed like Airport Express and the Blue Line Extension (to Lombard).

Nor does it include improvements to the Metra system - and let's face it, Metra's ambitions pale in financial comparison to CTA's. Even the STAR Line would run on existing tracks and would require only the construction of stations and signaling, plus trains and a yard somewhere. All relatively simple and inexpensive stuff to build out in the suburbs.

schwerve May 5, 2009 3:01 PM

^to be fair, clinton and the transitways will be done by CDOT as opposed to the CTA.

the urban politician May 5, 2009 3:22 PM

Funny thing about the Circle Line is that it already seems like a line that won't live up to its promise as a heavy rail line. If it's built as a BRT I'm guessing it will be even less useful. I sort of figure that if it's going to get built, it might as well be built as a rail line.

SkokieSwift May 5, 2009 7:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by denizen467 (Post 4232643)
Thanks for checking. But, where? I took a look at an aerial photo. I see very little near the station. I also see nothing covered, which would be a deal killer for many prospective rail users.

http://img512.imageshack.us/img512/25/swift.jpg

Courtesy of google street views, here is a pic of the park-n-ride looking south from Dempster. The station is on the right. As you can see, the lack of covered parking isn't preventing the lot from filling up.

Quote:

Originally Posted by denizen467 (Post 4232643)
A no-brainer because you're from there.
Wading a half-mile into a suburb you've never been to, and a quasi-suburban, quasi-suburban one like Skokie, in a relatively visually monotonous area of 1960s-1970s architectural duds and strip malls and drive-thrus with few distinctive geographic features, is not a no-brainer. It's at least a little-bit-brainer, at least for the psychology of most car-centric suburbanites. You really have to set the hurdle low to get some people to use trains.

Dempster is a major thoroughfare for car-centric suburbanites from Skokie, Morton Grove, and Niles. I am guessing the vast majority of the riders boarding at Dempster are from these three villages. However, I agree that the blue bloods from up north would be more familiar and comfortable with an Old Orchard station.

brian_b May 6, 2009 1:54 AM

Does the CTA have any of the new rail cars in service? I ask because a train has gone into the Loop and come back out via the Lake Street El that was perfectly quiet except for motor noise. Based on pitch change, the electric motors were under load slowing down into the Clinton stop (regen?). Unless they have two trains with brand-new 100% round wheels in service on the Green Line, I'd say that the timing puts it on the Pink Line.

Attrill May 6, 2009 2:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by brian_b (Post 4234117)
Does the CTA have any of the new rail cars in service? I ask because a train has gone into the Loop and come back out via the Lake Street El that was perfectly quiet except for motor noise. Based on pitch change, the electric motors were under load slowing down into the Clinton stop (regen?). Unless they have two trains with brand-new 100% round wheels in service on the Green Line, I'd say that the timing puts it on the Pink Line.

They don't have any new ones in service - but they should begin testing the new cars anytime between now and mid summer. They are destined for the Blue (and Pink) line, so it may be possible the testing has started. Were there passengers on the train?

brian_b May 6, 2009 4:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Attrill (Post 4234254)
They don't have any new ones in service - but they should begin testing the new cars anytime between now and mid summer. They are destined for the Blue (and Pink) line, so it may be possible the testing has started. Were there passengers on the train?

I can't tell from my apartment. It went by again; it's a very distinctive sound (or lack thereof). But it still could very well be an old train with brand-new wheels.

Mr Downtown May 6, 2009 4:23 AM

Last summer I began noticing that some Pink Line trains have a very different motor sound than the other trains. I questioned the CTA's chief electrical engineer but he didn't know what I could be referring to. But a few times a day I hear a train go by my office window that sounds different, and it's always a Pink Line train.

ChicagoChicago May 6, 2009 11:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Attrill (Post 4234254)
They don't have any new ones in service - but they should begin testing the new cars anytime between now and mid summer. They are destined for the Blue (and Pink) line, so it may be possible the testing has started. Were there passengers on the train?

Did they give a reason for using the blue and pink lines? Why would the CTA send the trains directly to an area where they will just be pissed in (blue)?

Attrill May 7, 2009 2:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChicagoChicago (Post 4235921)
Did they give a reason for using the blue and pink lines? Why would the CTA send the trains directly to an area where they will just be pissed in (blue)?

The Blue line is the first line to get the new trains (since they will be replacing the oldest trains the CTA has). At this point they still have to do test runs before accepting any trains for delivery and putting them into services. It's unclear when these tests will begin, but it should be very soon based on their announced timelines. I don't think they will have anyone riding them during tests.

The Pink line could very easily be part of the tests as well, due to the lines' connectivity.

the urban politician May 8, 2009 4:34 PM

Durbin lobbies for high-speed rail corridor between St. Louis, Chicago
Associated Press
Published: 5/8/2009 9:19 AM | Updated: 5/8/2009 9:40 AM

ST. LOUIS -- Illinois Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois and Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill are lobbying for a high-speed rail corridor between St. Louis and Chicago.

The Democratic lawmakers were to meet privately Friday in St. Louis with Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman and officials with Union Pacific railroad and the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Initially, regional transportation offices will compete for the $8 billion included in the $787 billion economic stimulus spending package for high-speed rail.

The $8 billion is part of $64 billion in the stimulus package for roads, bridges, rail and transit.

Durbin says the money will be awarded on a competitive basis, and Friday's meeting will focus on the corridor's funding needs and how officials can lure stimulus money for the project.

emathias May 9, 2009 5:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 4239064)
...
ST. LOUIS -- Illinois Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois and Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill are lobbying for a high-speed rail corridor between St. Louis and Chicago.
...

I have to admit that I think rail upgrades between Chicago and Milwaukee, continuing on to Madison and then on to Minneapolis/St. Paul (preferably through Rochester) makes as much, if not more, sense as Chicago to St. Louis.

There are 85 non-stops flights a day to St. Louis from Chicago.

But 103 non-stops to Minneapolis.

PLUS 68 non-stops between Milwaukee and Minneapolis each day PLUS 20 non-stops between Madison and Minneapolis PLUS 78 between Madison and Chicago PLUS 8 between Madison and Milwaukee.

To me that shows the potential for a lot more passenger traffic for a CHI-MKE-MSN-MSP route than from a CHI-STL route, even if you factored in Springfield and/or Peoria and/or Urbana.

Plus, a CHI-MSP route gets senators from at least three states involved instead of just two.

Maybe that route just doesn't get the press of the CHI-STL route, but I wish it did.


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