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VivaLFuego May 8, 2006 12:29 AM

He's increased service levels, quality of service, efficiency of administration, efficiency of operations, changed the internal culture of CTA to be more forward-thinking and academic, led well over $1 billion in capital improvements in his tenure, and consistently increased ridership all with a continuously decreasing operating subsidy when measured in real terms and a stagnant population in his service area.

If you compare him to past presidents, he's head and shoulders above the rest (Remember the ~15 years of declining ridership, all with an administrative staff nearly twice the size of what Kruesi has pared CTA down to?). He's not a good politician, but he's a brilliant and visionary thinker with an important grasp of the economics involved in his operation, which are exactly the qualities you want in a company President; the company Chairman and the rest of the Board of Directors ("Chicago Transit Board") should be the one with political skills, since (s)he/they represent the shareholder, which in this case, is the public.

I'd rather have a guy who knows what he's doing rather than a good bullshitter be the guy running the day-to-day operations of any organization, private or public.

People have short memories. Or rather, they have short memories for the things you do well, but if you ever piss them off, they don't forget. Unfortunately for Kruesi, he's been President for so long (relatively, at 8 years thats longer than most CTA presidents last) that people forget the great strides CTA has made and only remember the times Kruesi has pissed them off. And as time goes on, those times begin to add up.

alex1 May 8, 2006 12:36 AM

^disagree with you wildly. Kruesi came at a time when public transit was given a huge injection by the clinton administration in the U.S. Chicago wasn't the only place that saw years of decline come to an end. Almost all major transit agencies in this nation have seen big increases in the past decade. Besides, the changes he made were quite elementary and came at a time when back to the city and urban modes of transit became "cool" again.

we'll need someone else to take us into the future from a PR perspective that doesn't pit the region, the general assembly and other transit agencies against us. His work is done.


anyhow, check this analysis for the circle line:
http://www.fueledbycoffee.com/2006/0...rcle-line.html

VivaLFuego May 8, 2006 3:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by alex1
^disagree with you wildly. Kruesi came at a time when public transit was given a huge injection by the clinton administration in the U.S. Chicago wasn't the only place that saw years of decline come to an end. Almost all major transit agencies in this nation have seen big increases in the past decade. Besides, the changes he made were quite elementary and came at a time when back to the city and urban modes of transit became "cool" again.

we'll need someone else to take us into the future from a PR perspective that doesn't pit the region, the general assembly and other transit agencies against us. His work is done.


anyhow, check this analysis for the circle line:
http://www.fueledbycoffee.com/2006/0...rcle-line.html

What do you mean? Federal transit operating assistance ended completely during the Clinton administration...

alex1 May 8, 2006 3:05 PM

and let me ask you these questions:

1. when did the roots of relieving transit operating assistance begin?
2. who controlled congress when tea-21 was passed (not saying that Clinton nor the democrats didn't want to end FTOA)?

while both parties wanted to eradicate FTOA since the 80s (reagan years), the natural time came in TEA-21 seeing that so much more money was being given out in terms of capitol expenses. The money was given to local agencies to purchase all those shiny new buses and updated equipment which has led to more positive opinions of mass-transit in this country and this city to some degree. TEA-21 also hurt local agencies however due to losing a fairly good percentage of federal funds for operating expenses (about %10-16% in chicago's case).

my overall point is that any new president with a clear agenda to th2 public (and hence to the general assembly and city government) could have accomplished what Kruesi did and more in terms of updating transit in the city. To take things further, I think that a better president would have forged better licensing/marketing deals for higher ad revenues while forging better partnerships for funding mass transit at a city, local and state wide level.

Norsider May 8, 2006 3:29 PM

Alex, I hear what you're saying in terms of "Kreusi could have been/could be better." But I think Viva's point wasn't that Kruesi was the very apex of CTA leadership, just that he's been the best one we've had in quite a while.

VivaLFuego May 8, 2006 5:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Norsider
Alex, I hear what you're saying in terms of "Kreusi could have been/could be better." But I think Viva's point wasn't that Kruesi was the very apex of CTA leadership, just that he's been the best one we've had in quite a while.

Right, kick out Kruesi and we may well wind up with another Paswell, Belcaster, etc...

alex1 May 8, 2006 5:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Norsider
Alex, I hear what you're saying in terms of "Kreusi could have been/could be better." But I think Viva's point wasn't that Kruesi was the very apex of CTA leadership, just that he's been the best one we've had in quite a while.

i'm just responding to Viva's opinion that losing Kruesi would be a bad thing. My opinion is it would be a wonderful thing if the right guy is found.

VivaLFuego May 8, 2006 8:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by alex1
i'm just responding to Viva's opinion that losing Kruesi would be a bad thing. My opinion is it would be a wonderful thing if the right guy is found.

It's hard to attract top notch management at public sector salaries, so if you get someone whos passionate about what he does, and intelligent to boot, i wouldn't axe him unless there's already someone eminently qualified and capable lined and willing to take the pay cut to go to CTA (I think the president of CTA makes in the ballpark of $160K/year, which may seem like alot to us but for a president of an organization with ~11,000 employees is really not so much). Would CTA fall apart if Kruesi left? No. But past presidents have seriously mucked things up while at the helm, and I see nothing wrong with Kruesi's vision for CTA sans the fact that he makes political enemies as you point out. But in an ideal world, such considerations wouldn't matter.

In a random other question, I was looking at the Carrol Ave. right of way, and the part thats bugging me most is where Clinton St. crosses the 3 busy metra tracks leading into Union Station from the North. How would it be navigated here? I can't see how they'd make a viaduct, either.

spyguy May 8, 2006 10:04 PM

http://www.chicagotribune.com/techno...l=chi-news-hed

Where's the darn bus?
Commuter's computer could hold answer as CTA tests satellite-tracking system

Published May 8, 2006


Looking, waiting, stewing.

Commuters crane their necks over the edge of curbs at bus stops or on train platforms, wondering when their ride will come.

Many factors--accidents, mechanical breakdowns, waiting for track signals--account for why printed transit schedules and actual operations are often minutes and miles apart.

It would be wonderful if the system were more punctual. But the helpless feeling of not knowing whether the wait will be three minutes or a quarter-hour is what ranks among the top complaints of Chicago-area transit riders. It is a major reason many commuters drive to work on congested roads even though traveling by bus or train might be quicker.

Satellite technology may soon ride to the rescue, helping to eliminate some of the suspense in transit mystery trips. It might even prevent the knots that occur when buses become bunched together on one part of a route.

Other world-class cities have used satellite-based tracking systems for more than a decade to inform waiting passengers exactly when their bus or train will arrive.

More than 2,000 electronic countdown signs have been installed in London showing the projected arrival times that buses on different routes will reach a stop. A similar system is used in the San Francisco area on all the light-rail routes and on several bus lines.

Here at home, the Chicago Transit Authority, Pace and the Regional Transportation Authority are taking baby steps.

The CTA plans to unveil this summer a next-bus countdown system on the No. 20 Madison bus route.

In late June or early July, CTA No. 20 Madison customers will be able to use their computers and wireless handheld devices that access the Internet to track the real-time locations of buses and get the estimated elapsed time until the next bus reaches a selected bus stop.

It will also give the estimated arrival time of the bus directly behind the one coming on the 10-mile-long Madison route, where scheduled intervals between buses range from about four minutes during rush hours to up to 20 minutes at night.

Riders can sign up to receive pop-up alerts on their computers or other devices when a bus is a designated number of minutes from arriving at a selected stop. So riders can stay in their office or home until the bus approaches.

One electronic sign providing next-bus information will also be posted for testing at a busy bus stop west of the downtown, officials said.

Text messaging of bus information to cell phones, pagers and other devices would be phased in later. Real-time information would also be available to phone operators assisting customers at the RTA's travel information center.

A separate rail program designed to accurately count down the arrival of the next train for passengers waiting on platforms has been mired in reliability problems during five years of testing, often incorrectly reporting the number of minutes that the next train would arrive.

A replacement train-tracking system will be undergoing tests through at least the end of the year, officials said.

The next-train testing is taking place at the CTA rail stations at O'Hare International Airport, Midway Airport, Cumberland Avenue on the O'Hare branch of the Blue Line and Davis Street on the Purple Line in downtown Evanston.

Once the kinks are worked out of the $3 million pilot project, the data-communications system could be expanded in the future to tell commuters who drive to CTA or Metra park-and-ride stations whether parking spaces are available before they leave home, officials said.

"Our long-term goal is to put together a regional system that gives real travel times to riders connecting between the CTA, Metra and Pace," said Duana Love, manager of oversight and technology development at the RTA.

"So if you are a commuter transferring from the `L' to a Pace bus and there is a danger you will not make your connection on time, we will send you a message offering alternate connections," Love said.

The CTA bus-tracking system is designed to spot the locations of the agency's 2,000 buses, which are equipped with global-positioning system devices, and provide updates of each vehicle's position every 15 seconds, said John Flynn, CTA vice president of technology management.

Color-coded icons representing each bus on a route map would indicate whether a bus is on time, running ahead of schedule or late.

Dispatchers at the agency's operations center and bus supervisors on the streets would use the information to relieve bus bunching and improve service by radioing or messaging drivers to get buses back on schedule and spread out.

"The software gives us a powerful new tool to respond to bus-bunching and see what is happening along an entire route. You can tell where the gaps in service are and what the reliability looks like," said Wai-Sinn Chan, special assistant to the executive vice president of transit operation at the CTA.

That is the hope. But it is a complicated process that relies on computer programs and logarithms to not only tell where each bus is now, but also where it will be in several minutes and later, accounting for traffic flow and other factors.

If the experiment generates reliable data in testing throughout 2006, the system would be expanded over years to the CTA's 150 other bus routes on more than 2,200 route miles, officials said.

One million of the 1.5 million rides that the CTA provides each weekday are on buses. Two-thirds of the CTA's bus routes travel through the downtown.

Work on the $1.3 million bus pilot project began in 2002. CTA officials estimate it would cost at least $25 million to expand the next-bus system to all routes.

"It would be nice to know when I walk out the door whether a bus is coming shortly or that I just missed the bus and another one won't be along for 20 minutes," said Drew Weller, a North Side resident who rides the No. 50 Damen bus on days that he doesn't walk to the Brown Line rail station at Addison Street.

"You wait, you wait, you wait. You keep looking up the street. It's really annoying," said Weller, 35, a technology project manager at Northern Trust Global Investments.

Pace is using the bus-tracking data internally to improve the performance of the suburban bus system, officials said.

The scheduled wait times between buses can extend to 45 minutes or more during off-peak periods on some of Pace's longer routes, leading to long waiting times at bus stops.

Pace last year briefly provided real-time bus-tracking information on its Web site, but the agency pulled the service because of poor accuracy and reliability, officials said.

Pace plans to try again soon, and to also post the bus information on electronic kiosks that will be deployed at shopping malls and other high-traffic locations in the suburbs.

-------
Graphic:
http://img522.imageshack.us/img522/2764/233236005na.jpg

Steely Dan May 9, 2006 8:32 PM

^ i can't believe that there is currently only one train a day between chicago and st. louis. that seems like a route that could support way more than one train a day. i mean, milwaukee-chicago has got seven trains a day.

ChicagoBruce May 9, 2006 9:05 PM

I’m sure it could support more than one, but remember the Milwaukee – Chicago run has a fair number of commuters on it, either as an everyday commute, a couple times a week, or just for a meeting. Not to mention people that do day trips on the weekend or take it to get to the airport in either city. St. Louis is just too far for that kind of stuff.

Still a good idea. I was at Union Station when the St. Louis train was boarding and the line was incredible, which lead me to believe that it runs at a fairly high capacity and that it’s a longer train than the typical Hiawatha run.

VivaLFuego May 10, 2006 8:45 PM

CTA board just approved a $600 million rail car purchase for 406 cars from Bombardier. Sweet. The bad news is that prototype delivery isnt until the end of '08, to be followed by 9-12 months of testing time.

Big development though....if options are exercised, this contractis worth $1 billion, and includes the specialised rail cars for the airport express service.

spyguy May 10, 2006 8:48 PM

Please something at least semi-modern. At least they went with Bombardier so there is some hope.

headcase May 10, 2006 9:48 PM

I've said this before, I really don't care about the cars. 600millions goes along way towards the Circle line, or the pension plan.

What good are new cars if they don't run when and where you need them?

Chicago103 May 10, 2006 10:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by headcase
I've said this before, I really don't care about the cars. 600millions goes along way towards the Circle line, or the pension plan.

What good are new cars if they don't run when and where you need them?

I agree with that, newer more modern cars are always nice but its much more important to build a new line or increase service.

spyguy May 10, 2006 10:11 PM

If the stations and cars are modernized and generally cleaner I believe that could help increase ridership among more wealthy residents, or at least those who have an obsession with their car like that Dan Ryan story showed. Taking the train in HK or Tokyo or London is much more of an experience and something Chicago should try and emulate.

alex1 May 10, 2006 10:40 PM

if i had $1.1 billion, i'd give $1 billion to the CTA for rail upgrades. It would be nice to get a system that's world class yet still keeps the quirks that makes the chicago system unique. Unfortunately for all of us, I don't have that kind of money laying around.

whenever I think of funding for transit, Boston's big dig always comes to mind. $15 billion to bury a highway...imagine if we had that cash to put towards mass transit?

VivaLFuego May 10, 2006 10:54 PM

It will be pretty modern. AC propulsion, so smoother acceleration and braking (not to mention regenerative braking that gives a 10-20% savings on overall power consumption). Active suspension for real time adjustment of shock pressue for matching platform heights exactly and ensuring a smooth ride. LED signs all over the place (i.e. destination signs, plus route maps with LED lights showing the trains current location).

If you've ridden on the IRT lines in New York (the numbered lines....1,2,3,4,5,9, etc) I think you have an idea of what these will be like. Bombardier just did a 1000-car order for them and the cars are quite nice.

Think of it as the difference between riding the Brown Line or Orange Line (newer cars) and the Red Line.....except more so. The new cars will make a huge difference on peoples impressions riding the system, by being very quiet, smooth, and high-tech/modern (and let's hope not too dirty).

The downside is it will be 2008-2009 before we can experience it.

Also, this order for new cars will first replace the 150 cars on the blue line (2200 series, with the funky blinker doors) that are currently about 37 years old, and will be over 40 by the time of delivery, which is very, very old. And they'll also replace the 200 2400-series cars (currently on the green and purple line), which are currently 30 years old and will be nearly 35 by the time of their replacement.

FTA recommends replacings cars every 25-30 years, and of course Chicago's weather is extra hard on them. As they get older, it gets increasingly more costly to repair, because parts are harder to find and more expensive.

Chicago Shawn May 10, 2006 11:26 PM

^Dude, you just made my day. The new cars on NYC's system are fantastic. They also offer the smoothest rail ride I have ever experienced in a subway, especially the express runs cruising at 50 mph through 100 year old tunnels. The smoothness, combined with the high-tech features really made a huge impression on me.

Will the new cars have bowling alley seating? I am not a fan of that style of seating, but will happilly take it for those new cars.

Norsider May 11, 2006 2:31 AM

I wonder if the new cars will have a New York style seat layout or the same old completely insane and stupid current layout

trvlr70 May 11, 2006 1:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Norsider
I wonder if the new cars will have a New York style seat layout or the same old completely insane and stupid current layout

NYC layout. People are already complaining about that because of anticipated motion sickness due to some non-forward facing seats. Oh, please!

ChicagoBruce May 11, 2006 6:27 PM

Yuck. I don't like the new seating arrangement. I like to be able to look out the window.

Plus, how am I going to be able to avoid making eye contact with the drunken bum sitting across from me that way.

Oh well, not a big deal.

Wright Concept May 11, 2006 7:05 PM

More than anything the CTA trains just needed overhead grap bars to so that more standees can stand in the middle of the train rather than stay by the doors and remove a seat or two by the doorways creating a "vestibule" whether seats are facing in or not makes very little difference if there are is nothing to hold on to if you're a standee.

nomarandlee May 11, 2006 7:13 PM

I like the front facting seats myself and don't care much for the sideway motion but Chicago will just be joining the majority of most other rail systems in the world I guess.

The overhead grip bars are important though and are welcomed. Nothing worse then metro cars that don't have enough of them in good placement. Also, it would be nice if some of the interior was upholstered like some other metro lines I have seen but that might be asking a bit too much.

Busy Bee May 11, 2006 9:15 PM

I hope the exterior design of these cars are alot more stylish. For the most part, every CTA rail car series look very similar, with maybe the exception of those really old Budd cars(that I think look sweet btw.) While we can pretty much guarentee that they will be stainless, I hope Bombardier has an excellent industrial designer to give them a very forward looking flare(and the CTA doesn't think it's unneccessary to have great looking rail cars.)

It seems so many newer international heavy rail systems have some very slick looking rail cars, particularly in Asia and Europe. Go to Bombardier.com and look at the Berlin U/S-Bahn yellow cars, wow! Something in the range of those would look fantastic running on CTA rails and would do wonders for the technological condition/image of the system.

oshkeoto May 11, 2006 9:40 PM

^ I hope the cars look the same forever. Some new age yuppy train running on old rusty el tracks would look ridiculous.

ChicagoBruce May 11, 2006 9:45 PM

I love the exterior of the cars, they just scream “Chicago” I hope they keep them. Some ultra-modern looking cars just wouldn’t look right rolling through Chicago’s neighborhoods. It’s not that kind of city.

jjk1103 May 13, 2006 3:28 PM

.........half the fun of riding the CTA is looking out the windows ! the CTA ride will always be jerky as long as they use direct current.

VivaLFuego May 13, 2006 5:16 PM

The cars will look very similar. Recognizably new to rail buffs, but the overall aesthetic won't vary much. CTA is big on having a coherent system, even modifying old cars bit by bit to fit in with the overall aesthetic.

like they added tacky fake wood panels on the interior of the old 2200 Budd cars (the ones with blinker doors on the blue line), they're taking the stripes and colored ends off the 2400-series, etc.

CTA dabbled with chopper DC motors which provide smoother acceleration and are in use throughout Europe but the decision was made to finally switch to AC which is why this purcahse was delayed

jjk1103 May 13, 2006 11:14 PM

......thanks for the info. I presume that DC is cheaper (somehow ?) and that is the reason the CTA hasen't switched to AC long ago.

VivaLFuego May 14, 2006 3:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jjk1103
......thanks for the info. I presume that DC is cheaper (somehow ?) and that is the reason the CTA hasen't switched to AC long ago.

From an operating standpoint, DC is actually more expensive, because of higher net power consumption (I think A/C has power savings of 10-20%), and more expensive/difficult to find replacement parts especially in the US.

Part of the hesitancy for the switch was a desire for uniformity; AC and DC cars of course have different maintenance characteristics and requirements, and also the magnetic fields generated by the AC motors can interfere with the power and signalling systems (part of the rationale for the $250 million project now underway to upgrade signalling and power systems along the entire blue line and in the red line state street subway). By having different parts of the fleet using vastly different subsystems, you also require the equipment and personnel to deal with both, both at the rail maintenance shops (to actually perform the work) and in the rail car engineering department (to understand it all).

SSLL May 14, 2006 5:29 PM

I like the option of sitting backwards, forwards or sideways as well. It's too bad. Will the new cars all have level boarding then, I guess? The last time I rode the El, it was a few steps up, wasn't it?

Chicago103 May 16, 2006 12:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lukecuj
Metra web site:

Edison Park depot ground breaking on May 5

Chicago, May 3, 2006 - Metra Board of Directors member Larry Huggins will join Chicago Alderman Brian Doherty at 11 a.m. Friday to break ground for a new train depot at the commuter rail station in the Edison Park neighborhood.

Metra's latest depot, going up in partnership with the Union Pacific Railroad, City of Chicago and the Edison Park Chamber of Commerce, is being constructed just north of the station's existing depot. The 1,900-square-foot depot building is the centerpiece of a list of station improvements to be completed that include new platforms and additional parking.

Room inside the $1.09 million depot has been set apart as office space for the chamber of commerce, which will take over management of the depot facility.

Construction of the depot is set to begin later this month with worked expected to take about a year. The facility should open to commuters in the spring 2007.

On Chicago's far northwest side, the Edison Park station is located along Metra's Union Pacific Northwest Line. It is the agency's longest corridor, running between Harvard in McHenry County and Ogilvie Transportation Center in downtown Chicago. About 720,000 trips per month are provided on the UP-NW line. Roughly 600 passengers board the train at Edison Park everyday.

NOTE: Friday's ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. at the Edison Park station, 6700 N. Olmstead Ave, Chicago. Director Huggins and Doherty are expected to be joined by other local leaders for a ceremonial groundbreaking at the site of the new depot. There will be brief remarks and an opportunity for photos.

Its nice to have neigborhoods like Edison Park that are basically bedroom communities within city limits with a commuter train station that takes you downtown, the same applies to places like Edgebrook.

mikeelm May 16, 2006 12:56 AM

Interesting most city stops don't have a building. Jefferson and Irving Parks stations all did but when Ben Heennimen took over the C&NW as it was know then he either shut down stations or just eliminated the structures. I don't know the situation with other Metra city stops if most station buildings were eliminated by the RTA/Metra or their predicessors.

VivaLFuego May 16, 2006 3:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SSLL
I like the option of sitting backwards, forwards or sideways as well. It's too bad. Will the new cars all have level boarding then, I guess? The last time I rode the El, it was a few steps up, wasn't it?

The CTA (the El) is all level-boarding, in theory, though some platforms are a tad low requiring a step up.

Commuter Rail (Metra) is all ground-level platforms, except for the Electric District line running along the south lakeshore.

Rail Claimore May 16, 2006 3:32 AM

One thing I'd like to see in the future is electrification of all commuter rail lines running to Chicago. South Shore and Metra Electric count for maybe 20% of the system at most.

VivaLFuego May 16, 2006 2:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rail Claimore
One thing I'd like to see in the future is electrification of all commuter rail lines running to Chicago. South Shore and Metra Electric count for maybe 20% of the system at most.

In terms of mileage it is much much less than that, but in terms of ridership I think thats about right.

The sad thing is that many of the commuter lines were electrified, particularly all of the UP Metra Lines (formerly CNW, going west and north shore), and the Burlington Northern. Seeing as many of them were part of the much bigger interurban system, which now consists solely of the NICTD south shore, and arguably the norristown line in philly.

Chicago3rd May 16, 2006 6:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SSLL
I like the option of sitting backwards, forwards or sideways as well. It's too bad. Will the new cars all have level boarding then, I guess? The last time I rode the El, it was a few steps up, wasn't it?

No...though a few of the older stations are a little higher or lower or have a decent gap between the door and the platform...the trains have been level boarding for many decades

Rail Claimore May 16, 2006 9:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego
In terms of mileage it is much much less than that, but in terms of ridership I think thats about right.

The sad thing is that many of the commuter lines were electrified, particularly all of the UP Metra Lines (formerly CNW, going west and north shore), and the Burlington Northern. Seeing as many of them were part of the much bigger interurban system, which now consists solely of the NICTD south shore, and arguably the norristown line in philly.

That does seem to make sense now considering that the UP lines terminate at a separate terminal from the other lines that go north and west out of Chicago.

BVictor1 Jun 8, 2006 1:38 PM

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...l=chi-news-hed

Showcase Metra station suffering
Rebuilding of `ugly' Roosevelt Road depot is stopped in its tracks due to funding delay

By Virginia Groark
Tribune staff reporter
Published June 8, 2006


As a special treat, Yvonne Martin took her 3-year-old niece for a ride on Metra's Electric Line to the South Loop last week. But when she left the train at the line's Roosevelt Road station, the South Shore resident was surprised at what she found.

"I've been in Chicago all my life. How come everything else is modern but this?" she asked, gazing at the shabby wooden station where paint chips hang from the ceiling, a wooden bridge sags and rust dapples the hand railings.

The station, which resembles a run-down fishing shack, stands in sharp contrast to the manicured lawns and colorful gardens that sit just east of the tracks along a foot path that takes visitors to the popular Museum Campus. Metra had hoped a new depot that would better fit its environs would be built by this year, but the project stalled after the state failed to give the agency grant money it had approved in 2004.

"We agree today, and we agreed in 2003, that the station absolutely needs to be replaced," said Metra spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet, referring to the year the agency submitted its grant application.

Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Mike Claffey said this week that the $2.8 million grant would be given to Metra in the next few months. He attributed the delay to a lack of money for major infrastructure projects.

"There's been a number of very worthy projects that have had to be delayed, and this was one of those," he said.

But Pardonnet said Metra officials have been told several times that the money would arrive "in a week," yet the agency still has not received the funds. Even if the commuter railroad gets the money in the next few months, the earliest it could start the work would be next year, she said.

"We would never be able to bid the contract and do the engineering to get the work done in time for this construction season," she said, noting that track work must be done in warm weather.

Under the plan, Metra would use the money to move the railroad tracks so the city could build a new station at the 11th Street pedestrian bridge. The $8.7 million Chicago Department of Transportation project also calls for constructing new platforms and two elevators between the bridge and the platforms, making them accessible to the handicapped, said Brian Steele, a city Transportation Department spokesman.

The city was prepared to start construction last year, but Metra asked city officials to wait because the commuter railroad had not received the state funds, Steele said.

In the meantime, Metra engineers have examined the station and connecting bridges and determined they are structurally sound, even if they're "not very pretty," Pardonnet said.

The station, which has long served commuter trains, is near the site of the former Illinois Central Station, or 12th Street Station, which was built in 1892 for the World's Columbian Exposition. That station used to handle trains that came from as far as Florida. But Amtrak moved the intercity train service to Union Station in 1972, and the 12th Street Station was demolished in 1974.

All that remains of the once-bustling railroad hub is the rickety Roosevelt Road station, which these days is one of the final stops on the Electric and South Shore Lines for inbound trains. In addition to serving the South Loop, the station has become a popular destination for Chicago Bears fans going to Soldier Field, and it's a gateway for visitors to the Museum Campus. During peak summer months, about 800 people board Electric Line and South Shore Line trains there each day, officials said.

But the station's shoddy condition has prompted complaints from people who question why it hasn't been upgraded, especially when the surrounding area has been renovated and made attractive.

"It looks like a treehouse," said Hammond resident Ramiro Meza as he waited for a South Shore train on a recent weekday morning.

South Holland resident Vern Boerman, who has a lifetime membership to the Field Museum, said it's puzzling that the station hasn't been rebuilt, especially because it's the first thing people see when they disembark from a train en route to the city's tourist sites.

"Our triple museum lakeside campus is surely one of the great tourist spots on Earth," Boerman said. "But what do foreign visitors think when they disembark at the shabbiest Metra station in the entire Chicagoland area? That Roosevelt Road station is an ugly disgrace."

----------

vgroark@tribune.com

spyguy Jun 13, 2006 3:13 PM

http://www.chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/news.pl?id=20937

Metra Chair Ladd to step down when term expires
June 09, 2006
By Bob Tita


Metra Chairman Jeffrey Ladd said Friday he will leave the commuter rail system he’s headed since its inception more than 20 years ago when his latest term on the Metra board expires at the end of the month.

Mr. Ladd ended months of speculation about his future at Metra in a letter to U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert where he revealed that he won’t pursue another four-year term on the board.

“I believe now is the opportune time to turn over the reins chairmanship to the next generation of leader,” he wrote. “I will not seek reappointment to the Metra board this month.”

Mr. Ladd, 65, said his growing family of grandchildren and the demands of his law practice have made it increasingly difficult to devote the time needed for Metra’s challenges. He also acknowledged that the winds of change blowing the board also were a factor in his decision to leave.

“I am also aware that there is a sentiment for change in the leadership on the Metra Board,” noted Ladd, who did not return a phone call seeking comment on this resignation.

The board adopted bylaws last month requiring that the chairman and board officers be elected to four-year terms. The move was widely seen the groundwork for board revolt against Mr. Ladd, who did not appear to have the five votes needed to win the chairmanship. Mr. Ladd had previously faced only sporadic votes on his open-ended chairmanship. The last vote occurred in 1996.

Mr. Ladd was once a major beneficiary of clout wielded by suburban Republican leaders, such as former Illinois House Speak Lee Daniels of Elmhurst and former Senate President James “Pate” Philip of Wood Dale. With those old-guard leaders now gone from the scene, Mr. Ladd’s base of support in has eroded in recent years.

Mr. Ladd, a Woodstock resident, who represents Lake, McHenry, Kane and Will counties, has been chairman since 1984.

During that time he guided the creation of one of the nation’s largest commuter rail system out of a collection of poorly funded commuter rail lines that had been owned by freight railroads. He’s engineered the expansion of a system to accommodate the Chicago area’s sprawling population by adding new routes to the northwest and southwest suburbs and extending existing lines further into the outer suburbs.

With the Chicago area’s high volume of freight train traffic, the Metra system is considered the most complex commuter rail system in country. It covers more than 500 miles with 230 stations that serve 150,000 passengers a day.

“Jeff Ladd has been a tremendous leader for Metra,” said board member Arlene Mulder, who is also mayor of Arlington Heights. “He’s represented his collar counties well.”

spyguy Jun 13, 2006 3:18 PM

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/n...ationworld-hed

CHICAGO'S MASTER PLAN
DON'T DRIVE. JUST BIKE.

City peddling new proposal for 500-mile network of paths to be finished by 2015

By Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah and James Janega

Tribune staff reporters
Published June 11, 2006

Chicago is set to unveil new plans for becoming a bicyclist's haven. And this time, it means business.

The new Bike 2015 Plan wastes little time on breezy rides in the park. Instead, the city's Department of Transportation is bent on getting people to bike to work, to school, to stores and to mass transit stops, cobbling together a 500-mile network of designated routes.

Understanding that bicyclists' greatest enemies--aside from sloth--are car doors, right-lane passers and other street perils, planners looked around the world for new safety ideas.

From Geneva, Switzerland, they got the idea of raised bike lanes, a layer of pavement above street level and below the curb that would help dissuade motorists from veering into cycling territory. By 2010, the city hopes to experiment with raised lanes in a few locations.

In Copenhagen, Cambridge and other places, planners saw bicycle lanes colored a startling shade of teal green, thermoplastic markings they hope to duplicate at some Chicago intersections to try to warn right-turning cars to watch for bikes.

Like its predecessor in 1992, the new strategic plan lays out the city's vision to make bicycling an integral part of Chicagoans' daily lives.

It offers few details and specifies no costs, though it does point to federal grants and private funding.

The plan does not say where the new miles of bike lanes and improvements would be located.

But, with a strong track record of delivering for cyclists, the city is thinking big: a bike route within a half-mile of every resident; a 50-mile circuit of bike trails, with some off-road paths to be announced later this year; 185 miles of new bikeways altogether.

By 2015, planners hope, 5 percent of all trips shorter than 5 miles long will be made by bike.

"It's truly putting Chicago on the forefront of improving cycling across the country," said Andy Clarke, executive director of the Washington D.C.-based League of American Bicyclists, adding that unlike most cities where bike plans are shelved, they frequently are implemented in Chicago, with the backing of Mayor Richard Daley, an avid biker.

But for new bike lanes to lure new cyclists, riders say a culture change needs to take root among drivers. The biggest threat isn't animosity, they say. It's ignorance--most drivers seem not to realize cyclists are even vying for road space.

"I've been doored," said Greg Ehrendreich, 31, describing most cyclers' worst fear--a car door opening suddenly in their path. "I've been almost doored a couple of times."

"You've got to get people to think a different way," said Scott Parrish, 50, who has biked Chicago for half his life. "If the culture doesn't change when you put these bike lanes out, you could put 50 million bike lanes in and it wouldn't matter."

Of course, he said, cars are not the only deterrent: "Try to get a girl to go on a date with you on a bike."

Global inspiration

As the city and its consultant, Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, began researching the plan three years ago, the mayor encouraged them to seek inspiration across the globe.

Next year, planners hope to shut down a network of streets for biking on a Sunday morning, as pioneered in Bogota, Colombia, and Guadalajara, Mexico.

In Victoria, Canada, a bicycle commuter challenge among private companies--funded by them too--drew thousands of participants. Chicago would like to try its own in 2008.

When asked to describe the perfect urban biking, Chicago riders also looked abroad:

"Amsterdam," said Parrish, while stopped at the corner of Belmont Avenue and Clark Street on Friday.

"Shanghai," sighed Ehrendreich. "Whole streets are bikes only."

Closer to home, the city is currently working on a Mapquest of sorts for bikers, laying out online bike routes to a person's destination.

Millennium Park's popular bike station has inspired plans for a similar center with showers and lockers at the Ogilvie Transportation Center by 2010.

To encourage students, the city hopes to build bikeways for up to 70 schools by 2010.


They want to teach students at 500 schools all about bike safety.

The city even hired an intern to ride the streets, looking for bike lanes that need work and pavement that needs repair.

The key step to encouraging more cycling, experts and riders agree, is making riding safer.

As an opening bid, the city hopes to try the teal markings at 10 locations, including Elston Avenue and Division Street and Roosevelt Road and Damen Avenue, said Ben Gomberg, bicycle program coordinator for the Department of Transportation.

Current bike lane markings are not sufficient, said Joseph Schofer, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northwestern University. Bright teal could catch the eyes of motorists who may not be paying attention, he said.

Higher ground

The city could also try raising bike lanes in two or three undetermined locations as early as 2008 to see whether that may deter speeding motorists from entering the bike lane.

But that could have drawbacks, according to Christopher Hagelin, senior research associate for the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida. Based on a description of the Chicago plan, he said the raised lanes might make it harder for bicyclists to merge into the center travel lane to turn left.

At some intersections in Oregon, bicycles line up ahead of cars in specially marked boxes. That gives them a head start when the light turns green, makes them more visible to motorists and maybe even gives them a little psychological edge over the four-wheelers.

That's an idea Chicago planners are still considering.

spyguy Jun 13, 2006 3:21 PM

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...l=chi-news-hed

State puts CTA on notice
House speaker says pension fears won't boost transit funds

By Virginia Groark, Tribune staff reporter. Tribune staff reporter Christi Parsons contributed to this report
Published June 13, 2006


The state will not give the cash-strapped Chicago Transit Authority more money to cover its pension obligations, House Speaker Michael Madigan wrote CTA officials Monday in a stern warning that could force the agency to consider fare increases and service cuts.

Madigan wrote that if the CTA fails to cover its newly required pension payments, expected to be more than $200 million annually starting in 2009, the state will take money out of the CTA's operations allocation.

"There should be no expectation that the General Assembly will step in with additional transportation moneys to help the CTA meet its pension obligations," Madigan wrote to CTA President Frank Kruesi and Chairwoman Carole Brown. "I would ask that you keep these points in mind as you manage available resources and develop future budget plans."

CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney said the agency will take Madigan's remarks into account and will make sure the Regional Transportation Authority also considers his comments as it develops a plan for the area's transit agencies.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich's spokesman said the governor was unaware of the letter.

The head of a tax watchdog group said Madigan's message was a stinging notice that the CTA's budget problems could worsen in coming years.

"The CTA is going to have some very tough decisions to make," said Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation.

The pension payment program was tucked into the budget bill in the waning hours of the last legislative session. The bill, signed into law this month, requires the CTA to make annual contributions to its pension fund starting in 2009 with the goal of having it 90 percent funded by 2058.

With the pension only about 32 or 33 percent funded, CTA officials expect the annual payment will be more than $200 million annually, which represents about 20 percent of the agency's current $1.04 billion operating budget.

Without additional funding, the agency could be forced to make massive service cuts and increase fares drastically. The obligation also could jeopardize the CTA's ability to issue bonds for items like the 406 new rail cars the board recently agreed to buy.

Last year when the CTA was facing a $55 million budget shortfall, it threatened to eliminate 54 bus routes, kill the Purple Line Evanston Express train service, reduce late-night bus and rail service and lay off 2,000 workers. Those plans were scuttled when the General Assembly came up with more funding.

Then, both Kruesi and Brown expressed hope that the issue would prompt the General Assembly to address the need for more funding.

Madigan, who took a keen interest in the CTA's pension problems during a legislative hearing last year, said Kruesi and Brown's comments prompted his letter because he wanted to "debunk any notion" that the state would step in to help the CTA make the pension payments.

"The legislation puts the onus on the CTA, not the state, to find the moneys necessary" to get the pension plan 90 percent funded, he wrote.

spyguy Jun 13, 2006 3:34 PM

http://www.dailyherald.com/news/dupa...29&cc=d&tc=&t=

What to do about I-88 jams?

By Joseph Ryan

Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted Tuesday, June 13, 2006
DuPage County commuters know getting from Oak Brook to Naperville to Addison can be like swimming upstream, yet many suburbanites endure the struggle on a daily basis.

Would bus-only lanes help? What about wider expressways, suburban train lines or better-placed transit hubs?

All those solutions and more are on the drawing board as transit planners look to begin the second phase of a project that aims to settle on the most effective big-ticket items.

In the $1.6 million, multi-year study, the Regional Transportation Authority is outlining general transit options for public input later this month.

“We are not going to get too many shots at fixing this,” says John DeLaurentiis, planning director for the RTA, which oversees Metra, Pace and the CTA. “We pretty much have to get it right the first time.”

There is a lot to fix.

Topping the list of ills are economy-choking traffic jams on I-88 and I-290, inconvenient bus routes and schedules that drive away riders and a rail system that doesn’t reflect the majority suburb-to-suburb work commute.

Some of the remedies to be considered have been batted around for years, including a train line down the Reagan Memorial Tollway, a fourth, carpool-type lane on I-290 and a north-south train line.

Others haven’t been even thought of yet, DeLaurentiis says.

“This corridor is a real challenge,” he said. “We are not going to be able to deal with all of it, but we will look at everything.”

The study, started in 2002, is now focusing on the concepts of what will eventually become actual proposed projects. RTA planners declined to discuss the potential for specific projects.

At public meetings later this month, the planners will ask residents to comment on general forms of transit, including box-like grid systems, point-to-point options and new transit hubs in job-rich areas like Oak Brook. No specific plans will be presented.

Meanwhile, the nitty-gritty of funding and political support will be hashed out following the October project list release.

In January, the RTA and county politicians expect to lobby state lawmakers for funding and approval.

The state is now strapped for cash, facing multi-billion dollar pension debt and a required $3.9 billion match for federal transit funding. Lawmakers could be debating sales tax hikes or a tollway lease that would flood the transit industry with millions of dollars for projects.

Still, major project proposals that have come out of similar studies, including the suburb-to-suburb Metra STAR line, remain in the drawing room without the cash to get them done.

“That is the big question,” said DuPage County Chairman Bob Schillerstrom. “You can have the greatest philosophy and the biggest list of projects, but if you don't have the money to do them they are going to sit on a shelf somewhere and gather dust.”

VivaLFuego Jun 13, 2006 8:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by spyguy
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...l=chi-news-hed

State puts CTA on notice
House speaker says pension fears won't boost transit funds

By Virginia Groark, Tribune staff reporter. Tribune staff reporter Christi Parsons contributed to this report
Published June 13, 2006


The state will not give the cash-strapped Chicago Transit Authority more money to cover its pension obligations, House Speaker Michael Madigan wrote CTA officials Monday in a stern warning that could force the agency to consider fare increases and service cuts.

Madigan wrote that if the CTA fails to cover its newly required pension payments, expected to be more than $200 million annually starting in 2009, the state will take money out of the CTA's operations allocation.

"There should be no expectation that the General Assembly will step in with additional transportation moneys to help the CTA meet its pension obligations," Madigan wrote to CTA President Frank Kruesi and Chairwoman Carole Brown. "I would ask that you keep these points in mind as you manage available resources and develop future budget plans."

CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney said the agency will take Madigan's remarks into account and will make sure the Regional Transportation Authority also considers his comments as it develops a plan for the area's transit agencies.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich's spokesman said the governor was unaware of the letter.

The head of a tax watchdog group said Madigan's message was a stinging notice that the CTA's budget problems could worsen in coming years.

"The CTA is going to have some very tough decisions to make," said Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation.

The pension payment program was tucked into the budget bill in the waning hours of the last legislative session. The bill, signed into law this month, requires the CTA to make annual contributions to its pension fund starting in 2009 with the goal of having it 90 percent funded by 2058.

With the pension only about 32 or 33 percent funded, CTA officials expect the annual payment will be more than $200 million annually, which represents about 20 percent of the agency's current $1.04 billion operating budget.

Without additional funding, the agency could be forced to make massive service cuts and increase fares drastically. The obligation also could jeopardize the CTA's ability to issue bonds for items like the 406 new rail cars the board recently agreed to buy.

Last year when the CTA was facing a $55 million budget shortfall, it threatened to eliminate 54 bus routes, kill the Purple Line Evanston Express train service, reduce late-night bus and rail service and lay off 2,000 workers. Those plans were scuttled when the General Assembly came up with more funding.

Then, both Kruesi and Brown expressed hope that the issue would prompt the General Assembly to address the need for more funding.

Madigan, who took a keen interest in the CTA's pension problems during a legislative hearing last year, said Kruesi and Brown's comments prompted his letter because he wanted to "debunk any notion" that the state would step in to help the CTA make the pension payments.

"The legislation puts the onus on the CTA, not the state, to find the moneys necessary" to get the pension plan 90 percent funded, he wrote.

Very classy, now it's even more obvious Madigan slipped the provision in under the dead of night in order to force draconian CTA measures and thereby kill his nemesis Kruesi's career. Way to go, asshole; put personal politics above the public good.

I hate Mike Madigan. Yes, hate, what a despicable individual.

Chicago3rd Jun 13, 2006 8:33 PM

It is time for us to get rid of all three. They are playing with our transportation. Rather than going forward with the required future of Mass Transit they keep chopping away at it and making it into a political football.
Daley, Madigan, Kruessi.....fix it our you are all out!

Where the FUCK is the audit the state ordered last year!!!!!!

Norsider Jun 16, 2006 7:40 PM

I wouldn't read too much into this, other than they're telling the CTA not to expect a bailout and budget accordingly. No one said there wouldn't be a bailout at all.

BVictor1 Jun 17, 2006 1:09 PM

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...l=chi-news-hed

http://www.chicagotribune.com/media/...6/23949234.jpg
Bridge to traffic sanity
New span to ease North Ave. mess

By Aamer Madhani
Tribune staff reporter
Published June 17, 2006


Chicago, which loves the charming steel drawbridges that dot the city but hates the bottlenecks they sometimes cause, will soon have a dramatic new span that will ease passage over the Chicago River at North Avenue.

Intent on alleviating one of the North Side's maddening traffic chokeholds, city officials are set to scrap one of its trademark movable bridges, once a necessity in a city with bustling river commerce.

The 99-year-old, two-lane red steel bridge over the river's North Branch will be replaced by a four-lane suspension and cable-stay bridge, the first of its kind in the city, said Cheri Heramb, the Chicago Department of Transportation's acting commissioner.

The new bridge will feature four 45-foot-tall, slender lit towers tethering the cables supporting the deck. City officials said the new bridge's design will open up spectacular views of the skyline that are somewhat obstructed by the hefty beams of the existing bridge.

"The purpose and need of the project was to open up this road to two lanes of traffic in either direction," said John Yonan, the project manager. "The skyline in the background is a very important facet that we took into this design."

Construction of a temporary bridge just south of the old one will allow North Avenue to remain open and is scheduled to start Monday. The old bridge will likely be dismantled at the end of the summer. The $21.4 million project is expected to be completed in fall of 2007.

The existing bridge is one of the famed Chicago-style trunnion bascule bridges. The leaves are suspended on axles with counterweights--bascule means seesaw in French--and the steel trusses are noted for their curved profile. Since the mid-1990s the city has replaced two similar bridges along the North Branch of the river, said Brian Steele, a Transportation Department spokesman.

The city's first trunnion bascule bridge was built in 1902 on Cortland Street, also on the North Branch. That structure, which is still operating, is an official city landmark.

Trunnion bascule bridges came to the city several years after architect William Scherzer had introduced a related type of bridge, the rolling lift bridge, over the Chicago River at Van Buren Street.

Scherzer was hoping to get a foothold in the bridge-building business in the booming industrial city at the turn of the last century, but his design was eclipsed by the trunnion bascule models.

With each bridge that was built, the design was further improved--the trusses were refined and the lifting and dropping mechanisms were hidden from plain sight.

The city's bridges have long been celebrated, including being prominently featured in United Airlines advertising and gracing the cover of a collection of essays by Chicago icon Studs Terkel, "Division Street: America."

Over the last 30 years, the city has slowly replaced several of the bascules with fixed-span bridges. There are 36 other operable bridges of their kind in the city, Steele said.

At the turn of the 20th Century, moving bridges helped balance the conflicting demands of horse and pedestrian traffic on the city's streets with busy ship traffic hauling lumber and other goods to the factories on the Chicago River.

But the bridge on North Avenue hasn't been lifted since 1972. Stan Kaderbek, who served as the city's chief bridge engineer from 1993 to 2003, said movable bridges are difficult to maintain, particularly because there hasn't been much reason to lift many of them for the last 30 years.

Still, he said it is difficult not to be nostalgic about the old bridges.

"They are as much a part of Chicago as the Water Tower," Kaderbek said. "The bridges give the city a unique feel. Chicago wouldn't be Chicago without the movable bridges."

Steele said officials tried to identify another city that would take the historic North Avenue bridge but couldn't find any takers.

"We were looking to give this to any entity that was willing to move it and put it to its intended use," Steele said. "The mechanism that lifts the bridge is outdated, so getting anyone to take it on was difficult."

With only one lane of traffic in either direction, the bridge has outlived its utility for an area with a mix of retail, industry and residences that attracts suffocating vehicular traffic. These days most of the river traffic is limited to people paddling kayaks for exercise.

"I can't emphasize how important this bridge is," Ald. Ted Matlak (32nd) said of the new bridge.

"This is a ... bridge for horses and wagons. When this bridge is expanded, not only is it going to look good, it's going to function a lot better."

Jonathan Fine, president of Preservation Chicago, acknowledged that the old bridge couldn't support the crush of traffic that floods the area. The city estimates 40,000 vehicles pass over the bridge every day.

But Fine said he had hoped the bridge could be salvaged.

"There is no question that North Avenue needs to be widened," Fine said.

"But we would have liked to see the bridge preserved somehow. This is a historical bridge that helped create the character of the city."

----------

amadhani@tribune.com





Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune

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BVictor1 Jun 17, 2006 1:11 PM

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BVictor1 Jun 17, 2006 3:43 PM

http://www.chicagosuntimes.com/outpu...bridge17.html#

Mini-Golden Gate to span river at North Avenue
June 17, 2006

MONIFA THOMAS Transportation Reporter


Chicago and San Francisco will soon have more in common than their stunning waterfronts. The 99-year-old North Avenue bridge over the Chicago River is being replaced with a suspension/cable-stay design similar to the Golden Gate Bridge, city transportation officials said Friday.

The new bridge will accommodate two lanes of traffic in each direction instead of narrowing to one lane over the river as the old bridge does.

The first two months of the $21.4 million project, which starts Monday, involve building a temporary bridge over the river to keep traffic moving while the permanent structure is being built. Work on the bridge should be complete by fall 2007.

"The city basically had two options: build a temporary bridge ... or completely shut down North Avenue for a year," Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman Brian Steele said. "There was no way the city would close down such a busy thoroughfare."

Tall masts out of picture

North Avenue isn't the first movable bridge in the city to be replaced with a fixed span bridge in recent years -- Damen Avenue and Pulaski Road got the same treatment in the 1990s. But the Golden Gate-style bridge will be one of a kind for Chicago.

"In a city with a long heritage of innovative bridge design, the new North Avenue bridge will be a notable addition," said CDOT Acting Commissioner Cheri Heramb.

The center section will be a suspension bridge, while each end will be a cable-stay bridge, CDOT says. A suspension bridge hangs from cables anchored at each end, while a cable-stay bridge supports the deck with cables from a central tower or towers.

The hybrid configuration allows for a roadway platform, or deck, that is just four feet thick.

The city was able to consider a more cost-effective fixed span bridge design for North Avenue because boats with tall masts no longer use that part of the Chicago River, Steele said. At a little over 18 feet, the new bridge will have the same clearance as the movable one it replaces.

Steele said there might be minor traffic delays associated with the construction.

Motorists wishing to avoid the area can use Cortland to the north or Division to the south.

mjthomas@suntimes.com

http://images.suntimes.com/popups/FT...061706_285.jpg



North Avenue isn't the first movable bridge in the city to be replaced with a fixed span bridge in recent years -- Damen Avenue and Pulaski Road got the same treatment in the 1990s. But the Golden Gate-style bridge will be one of a kind for Chicago.

"In a city with a long heritage of innovative bridge design, the new North Avenue bridge will be a notable addition," said CDOT Acting Commissioner Cheri Heramb.

The center section will be a suspension bridge, while each end will be a cable-stay bridge, CDOT says. A suspension bridge hangs from cables anchored at each end, while a cable-stay bridge supports the deck with cables from a central tower or towers.

The hybrid configuration allows for a roadway platform, or deck, that is just four feet thick.

The city was able to consider a more cost-effective fixed span bridge design for North Avenue because boats with tall masts no longer use that part of the Chicago River, Steele said. At a little over 18 feet, the new bridge will have the same clearance as the movable one it replaces.

Steele said there might be minor traffic delays associated with the construction.

Motorists wishing to avoid the area can use Cortland to the north or Division to the south.

mjthomas@suntimes.com


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