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Wright Concept Oct 11, 2006 8:38 PM

^ To my knowledge before I moved out of Chicago. I thought the STAR line was to use mostly existing right-of-way.

Norsider Oct 11, 2006 8:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by brian_b
The star line would be well used if built as proposed. It is, however, pretty damn expensive.

Expensive compared to what?

VivaLFuego Oct 11, 2006 9:00 PM

^But what of that couldnt be accomplished with dedicated bus lanes, i.e. BRT? Why heavy commuter rail? I mean, everyone in the suburbs, even the bulk of the working class, drives to their destinations (except perhaps the illegal immigrants who don't have licenses but again.....BRT?).

Why would they change their habits? It's not like downtown Chicago where there is an absence of any cheap or convenient parking, or where you can combine trips and run errands at lunch. Heck, in those Scumburg office parks you need a car just to go to lunch.

I just see the project as encouraging further decentralization of the region's employment, I would rather transit money be directed towards getting people into and around Chicago's central area, since the constituency for most other trips is ever-shrinking

brian_b Oct 12, 2006 1:51 AM

When I worked in the suburbs, just as many people took the inbound Metra trains to Arlington Heights from the outer suburbs as the people (like me) that took the outbound trains from downtown to Arlington Heights.

I had tons of coworkers that lived south of Arlington Heights (such as Naperville and Lisle) that hated the daily drive up 355. Given the option, most would take the train at least a few times a week.

VivaLFuego Oct 12, 2006 3:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by brian_b
When I worked in the suburbs, just as many people took the inbound Metra trains to Arlington Heights from the outer suburbs as the people (like me) that took the outbound trains from downtown to Arlington Heights.

I had tons of coworkers that lived south of Arlington Heights (such as Naperville and Lisle) that hated the daily drive up 355. Given the option, most would take the train at least a few times a week.

I hope that your experience is generalizable to the whole population, I'd love to see some ridership projections for the ultimately-chosen route. I mean if it works, it could indeed be somewhat revolutionary by bringing rail transit to an intersuburban context. but intuitively, I just dont see the ridership potential to run frequent service. I just feel like the Circle Line, Mid-City Line, West Loop subway, red line extension, and downtown BRT/LRT circulator would be higher priority chicago-area transit projects.

spyguy Oct 12, 2006 3:35 AM

http://www.chicagojournal.com/main.a...76&TM=84285.05

'Wild West' Metra bridge to be removed
CDOT plans to build new Grant Park Metra station sometime next year

By TIMOTHY INKLEBARGER
, Staff Writer

The rickety wooden bridge at the south end of Grant Park, which connects the Roosevelt Road Metra Electric and South Shore station with South Michigan Avenue and Roosevelt Road, will soon be no more.

The City of Chicago and Metra will soon remove the bridge and relocate the Metra stop closer to the new 11th Street bridge just about 20 feet north, Bob O'Neill, president of the Grant Park Advisory Council, said this week.

"We get a lot of complaints about this as the south end of the park gets more and more fixed up," O'Neill said.

He said the old bridge stands only a few feet from the new Agora sculpture garden-designed by Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz-that will be installed at the corner of Roosevelt and Michigan in early November. The garden will feature 100 classic sculptures that stand 9 feet tall.

"You look just past them a few feet and there is a bridge that looks like it is out of an old wild west movie," he said. "It's sort of an interesting mix of old world and new world."

Brian Steele, a spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation, said the city will pay for the construction of the new Metra station. The project will cost approximately $8.7 million.

"More than likely the work will begin sometime next spring," Steele said.

But before the city can build the station, the Metra must first realign its tracks and catenary wires.

Metra spokesman Judy Pardonnet said in that though the project was supposed to be completed in the summer of 2006, the Illinois Department of Transportation was slow to release the funds for the realignment project. IDOT did not distribute the $3.2 million needed to realign the tracks until August, long after the construction window had closed, Pardonnet said.

She said the project would go to a public bid this winter and construction is expected to begin in March. Pardonnet said the realignment would not disrupt service at the station.

O'Neill said the project is needed because the existing station is not inviting to commuters and does not even appear safe. Pardonnet said that although the existing wooden bridge might be a bit of an eyesore, engineers have determined that it is structurally sound.

"Public transportation is essential to having a vibrant active city," O'Neill said. "This station says to people, 'Don't take public transportation.'"

http://img101.imageshack.us/img101/5606/2276azo6.jpg

denizen467 Oct 12, 2006 4:58 AM

^ Who uses this station anyway? Other than people coming in to the city for the museums or Soldier Field, I can't think of any major constituency.

jpIllInoIs Oct 12, 2006 2:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PracticalVisionary
^ To my knowledge before I moved out of Chicago. I thought the STAR line was to use mostly existing right-of-way.

True enough it uses the 'EJE' Eljin, Joliet & Eastern RR, except the link from Hoffman Estates (Sears HQ) to Schaumburg and O'Hare, where it will be constructed in the median of I-90.

VivaLFuego Oct 12, 2006 4:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by denizen467
^ Who uses this station anyway? Other than people coming in to the city for the museums or Soldier Field, I can't think of any major constituency.

I seem to remember on normal weekdays it sees a little under 1000 boardings, which isn't that many compared to some of the pathetically run-down CTA stations that need work. But it's pretty decent ridership for commuter rail. The City really should be using that downtown TIF bonanza to fix up all the downtown CTA stations, NOW.

Robert Pence Oct 13, 2006 12:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by spyguy
http://www.chicagojournal.com/main.a...76&TM=84285.05

... O'Neill said the project is needed because the existing station is not inviting to commuters and does not even appear safe. Pardonnet said that although the existing wooden bridge might be a bit of an eyesore, engineers have determined that it is structurally sound ...

... "This station says to people, 'Don't take public transportation.'"

I'll second that. Most South Shore trains that I ride drop off at least a few inbound passengers or pick up outbound passengers there. I don't know about commuter use, but it's a perfect station for visitors going to the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium or Adler Planetarium.

"A bit of an eyesore" is an understatement. Earlier this week I was noticing how nasty it looks. I've used it, and it seems sturdy enough, but it's ratty-looking and run down, and those long, steep, rickety wooden steps are a challenge for many. Museum visitors are greeted with downtown Chicago's most disgusting eyesore.

the urban politician Oct 13, 2006 2:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego
The City really should be using that downtown TIF bonanza to fix up all the downtown CTA stations, NOW.

^ yeah, but come on! That station needs the work more BADLY than anything I can think of. Rickety old wood? Please!

denizen467 Oct 13, 2006 6:44 AM

Speaking of the 11th Street station, does anybody know what the deal is with that loner spur track west of the busway (all the other tracks at 11th St. are east of the busway)? It can be seen in one of the most recent photos in the One Museum Park thread. Unless it continues under OMP, I assume it just dead ends around Roosevelt, which makes me wonder whether they aren't just going to tear it out.

VivaLFuego Oct 13, 2006 3:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by denizen467
Speaking of the 11th Street station, does anybody know what the deal is with that loner spur track west of the busway (all the other tracks at 11th St. are east of the busway)? It can be seen in one of the most recent photos in the One Museum Park thread. Unless it continues under OMP, I assume it just dead ends around Roosevelt, which makes me wonder whether they aren't just going to tear it out.

In addition to the large rail yard and maintenance facility at about 14th street, 12th street used to be the main terminal of the Illinois Central (known as "Central Station", hence the name of the residential development). Basically, bit-by-bit since the late 60s and early 70s, the grand old rail terminal that used to be here has been chipped away, with odd remnants here and there (just a year or two ago, there were some old tracks with abandoned freight cars on the site of One Museum Park). This rickety 12th st station is almost all that is left of old Central Station, and once the maintenance facility is removed (this is one of the holdups for decking over that section of the tracks with parkland: Metra will build new facilities in the south suburbs but doesnt have money for that yet), all of the old station will be gone.

Looking to the southeast:
http://content.answers.com/main/cont...al_Station.jpg

Looking to the northwest:
http://www.illinoiscentral.net/chgocentsta/cs1894.jpg
(images googled)

denizen467 Oct 14, 2006 4:51 AM

^ Thanks. Those photos really show lost Chicago. Sad that the tower is gone now.

the urban politician Oct 14, 2006 4:33 PM

http://www.chicagotribune.com/busine...i-business-hed
Metra plans rail stop near Sox ballpark

Published October 14, 2006


CHICAGO -- After years of balking at the prospect, Metra has decided to make it easier for fans to attend White Sox games.

As early as the 2008 baseball season, a new Metra station could open along the Rock Island line, which runs through the heart of traditional Sox territory on the South Side and in the southwest suburbs.

The commuter rail line's board of directors on Friday approved an $800,000 design contract for a new station at 35th Street, just across the Dan Ryan Expressway from U.S. Cellular Field.

"We're absolutely thrilled," Sox marketing vice president Brooks Boyer said. "That line goes right through a hotbed area of White Sox fans."

The contract signals a new ballgame for Metra. In 2003, then-Chairman Jeffrey Ladd said he opposed adding a train station to serve the ballpark, even though Rock Island and SouthWest Service line tracks run nearby.

Because the Chicago Transit Authority's Red and Green Lines already had stations at 35th Street, Ladd said he believed it would be a poor use of resources for Metra to build a station that would only be used for about 81 home games a year. Before he stepped down in June, Ladd acknowledged the station was needed.

Metra Executive Director Philip Pagano said Friday that many others besides the White Sox would benefit from the new station. The Near South Side is home to booming development from Bronzeville to Bridgeport. The station would also serve the Illinois Institute of Technology and De La Salle Institute.

Money for the contract comes from a $1 million federal appropriation obtained by U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.).

Funding for the new station was included in Metra's 2007 capital program and $554 million budget.

Marcu Oct 17, 2006 6:22 AM

Sox fans will now have 5 options for getting to the game: Green line, red line, buses, dan ryan/parkng and Metra.

Cubs fans will just have buses and the red line.

I guess that's what happens when the mayor's a Sox fan.

Wright Concept Oct 17, 2006 11:58 AM

That's what happens when there is an existing Metra service a block away from Cellular Field and IIT. Might as well build a station and use it.

VivaLFuego Oct 17, 2006 2:51 PM

Cool. I've always thought there was great potential for Metra to improve its services within the city limits, especially on the 3-4 track lines where they can still shoot express trains from the suburbs past the in-city local stops. With more frequent local in-city service and closer spaced stations, Metra could actually provide rapid train coverage to almost every other remaining area of Chicago without service, including the auto-loving nightmare of the northwest side, the University Village/East Pilsen area, and the far southwest and far south sides.

The first key step is changing the bizzare regional transit funding formula; right now, Metra doesnt get a dime of the transit tax collected within the Chicago city limits.

the urban politician Oct 17, 2006 5:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Marcu
Sox fans will now have 5 options for getting to the game: Green line, red line, buses, dan ryan/parkng and Metra.

Cubs fans will just have buses and the red line.

I guess that's what happens when the mayor's a Sox fan.

^ Does anyone else wonder why Metra is choosing this particular line, which basically overlappes with the red and green lines, to place a 35th street stop on?

Metra's Southwest service also crosses 35th street, and a stop there would be just as far from the Cell. Plus it doesn't overlap the red and green lines. Seems like a better idea to me

Wright Concept Oct 17, 2006 5:27 PM

Because the Metra Line(Rock Island to Joliet if I'm not mistaken) that runs between Red and Green lines is busier with more travelers and the right of way is available for it. Plus it serves a double duty for college students who attend IIT to the east of the tracks. I know because I went there.

nomarandlee Oct 20, 2006 6:24 AM

CTA machine to be installed in Metra station
 
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-0610190188oct19,1,1654233.story?coll=chi-news-hed

CTA machine to be installed in Metra station

Published October 19, 2006


A CTA transit card vending machine will be installed at Metra's LaSalle Street station to accommodate commuters who use both Metra and the CTA.

The CTA board approved the agreement with Metra on Wednesday. The transit card machine will be installed by the end of the year at the station, 414 S. LaSalle, which serves Metra's Rock Island District Line.

A CTA transit card vending machine and a visitor pass vending machine were installed near the Metra ticket counter at Union Station this year. CTA card vending machines will eventually be placed inside all downtown Metra stations, officials said.

The CTA board Wednesday also approved a six-month experiment to combine two bus routes, the No. 37 Sedgwick and the No. 11 Lincoln, which parallel each other along portions of the routes.

The new No. 11 Lincoln/Sedgwick route will begin operating in December, offering extended service north of Fullerton Avenue for current No. 37 Sedgwick riders and extended service south of North Avenue during peak hours for current No. 11 Lincoln riders, the CTA said.

The CTA will review the change and solicit reaction from riders before deciding whether to make it permanent, officials said.



Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune

jpIllInoIs Oct 20, 2006 2:07 PM

A CTA transit card vending machine and a visitor pass vending machine were installed near the Metra ticket counter at Union Station this year. CTA card vending machines will eventually be placed inside all downtown Metra stations, officials said."

Year 2006 this should not be news, but such is the state of transit cooperation. At least it is happening now :rolleyes:

VivaLFuego Oct 20, 2006 3:25 PM

^ RTA's #2 mission right now (with #1 being to secure more transit funding), should be increased cooperation and integration between the 3 agencies.

Marcu Oct 20, 2006 5:46 PM

2-year closing of Red Line station looms

Tribune staff reports
Published October 19, 2006, 8:46 PM CDT


The Washington station on the CTA Red Line and the pedestrian transfer tunnel between the Red and Blue Lines will close Monday for two years of construction, transit officials reminded commuters on Thursday.

The Washington/Madison mezzanine, which is used to reach the station and its four street-level entrances, also will close, the CTA said.

Customers can enter the State Street subway using the Lake station, one block north of Washington, or the Monroe station, a block south of Washington.

The construction project involves building tunnels connecting the Red and Blue Line subway tracks. The tunnels will help improve rail service by increasing options to coordinate train traffic in both subway systems, officials said.

The Washington stop and all other stops on the Blue Line will remain open.

Red Line trains will continue normal operations through the State Street subway with the exception of bypassing the Washington station.

Trains will continue to stop at the North/Clybourn, Clark/Division, Chicago, Grand, Lake, Monroe, Jackson, Harrison and Roosevelt subway stations.

Customers will continue to have access to free transfers between the Red and Blue Lines via the pedestrian transfer tunnel at the Jackson station, just south of Washington.

Construction crews will build two short connecting tunnels and tracks that will link the existing Red and Blue Line subway tunnels and the new transit "super station" planned for Block 37, at 108 N. State St.

Wright Concept Oct 20, 2006 6:03 PM

Damn, that's a shame they couldn't revise that Superstation idea for Washington/State and replace a couple of the Loop stations at State/Lake, Randolph/Wabash and combine it with this to do it all at once.
BTW, What ever happended to that proposal?

VivaLFuego Oct 20, 2006 6:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PracticalVisionary
Damn, that's a shame they couldn't revise that Superstation idea for Washington/State and replace a couple of the Loop stations at State/Lake, Randolph/Wabash and combine it with this to do it all at once.
BTW, What ever happended to that proposal?

I believe both are in the design stage, and are joint City/CTA projects. Randolph/Wabash and Madison/Wabash will be removed and replaced with one station at Washington/Wabash. Not sure about any details of State/Lake, but I hope there is some real integration and a direct connection to the subway station underneath.

pottebaum Oct 21, 2006 3:00 AM

I'm not sure how many times it has been mentioned here already, but the CTA audit is due out next month. It'll definitely influence how much money the agency gets from the state.

Taft Oct 23, 2006 2:12 PM

Trib article on Canal street mess
 
Jon Hilkevitch
Mega traffic woes hit Canal
Union Station area a hub of congestion

Published October 23, 2006

The streets surrounding Union Station mark the transportation hub of downtown Chicago, and they are long overdue for a traffic makeover that city officials now are considering.

Canal Street between Adams Street and Jackson Boulevard is the nexus of downtown commuting activities anchored by Metra, Amtrak and Chicago Transit Authority buses, serving more than 200,000 travelers daily. It is the place where several city agencies are studying a re-engineering of traffic patterns to ease congestion and improve safety.

Entrances to the sprawling Union Station complex, a magnet for foot traffic, are on both sides of the street on the one-block section of Canal. Many pedestrians can recite personal horror stories about close calls with vehicles during frenzied rush periods.

A busy CTA bus stop, where 286 buses operating daily on several routes not only pick up and unload passengers but often dwell for extended periods, occupies the entire curb space on the west side of Canal along with a CTA buses-only passing lane.

On the east side of Canal is a cabstand that was relocated there for security reasons after the 9/11 attacks from its former place on the underground circulating drive inside Union Station. The mix of taxis and bus stands on the east side of Canal has proved to be an extremely poor--and often dangerous--fit.

Taxi drivers dropping off or picking up riders weave in and out of the cabstand. They compete for space against CTA buses, private buses shuttling Metra commuters from Union Station to their jobs in the Illinois Center and other major office buildings and the Amtrak-commissioned intercity buses that all dock on the east side of Canal.

"We have a lot of different uses for one block and we recognize there is a broader issue that needs to be addressed," said Rich Hazlett, coordinating planner in the Chicago Department of Transportation.



Mega traffic woes

The already bad traffic situation reached the tipping point in April when Megabus, a super-low-cost bus company, joined the fray on the east side of Canal. Megabus serves eight Midwestern cities daily from its Chicago hub along the public bus-staging area on the east side of Canal.

"Even though most Megabus departures are in the off-peak period, traffic volumes exceed the capacity of that curb space far too often," said CDOT spokesman Brian Steele. "Everyone recognizes the status quo is not acceptable."

The city is considering changes in the use of the curb space at Union Station and alsois reviewing possible modifications in the street meter parking in the area, Hazlett said.

Alternative locations for Megabus are under review, Hazlett said. They include moving the Megabus staging point to the existing CTA bus lane on the west side of Canal; north of Adams on the east side of Canal; and south of Jackson on the east side of Canal.

The CTA is concerned because any changes could involve moving some current CTA bus stops on the east side of Canal.

"We have a limited amount of curb space and we have already made adjustments in our schedules to meet the capacity constraints of the terminal," said CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney.

Up to 20 Megabuses operate daily from the current spot on the east side of Canal between Adams and Jackson. Only one Megabus at a time is supposed to occupy the bus stand, under an agreement between Megabus and the city, officials said.

But sometimes two Megabuses are present if the runs are off schedule, occupying the curb and the adjacent traffic lane and tightening the traffic knot. The buses are supposed to get in and get out quickly, but the loading and unloading of bags and passengers often prevent timely turnarounds.

Amtrak, the owner of Union Station, was first to cry foul. The emergence of Megabus, which offers a $1 fare to at least one passenger on each bus, potentially threatened to take away passengers from Amtrak, although the passenger railroad contends that its fares and service attract different travelers.

Greyhound Bus Lines, which operates its downtown station several blocks away at 630 W. Harrison St., also has reacted to the Megabus foray. Greyhound has been handing out leaflets advertising its services to people waiting at the Megabus stop.

Megabus officials say they are working with the city, Amtrak and the CTA to come up with a solution, but they said the problems on Canal predated Megabus' arrival.



Crunched for space

"The area around Union Station is where we want to be," said Don Carmichael, senior vice president of operations at Coach USA, which owns Megabus. "Our rollout in Chicago has been very successful."

Adding injury to insult for Amtrak, Megabus customers have been camping out inside Union Station while waiting for their buses. To keep overhead operating costs low, Megabus neither owns nor operates station facilities in any of the nine cities it serves.

"Getting in the door of Union Station was like salmon trying to swim upstream," said Amtrak passenger David Johnson, assistant director of the National Association of Railroad Passengers, describing the scene Thursday morning.

Union Station is a public place open to anyone who transacts business there, whether boarding Metra or Amtrak trains or making purchases in the food court or stores.

But Amtrak responded to the Megabus invasion by instructing Amtrak police to shoo Megabus passengers waiting for buses in the vestibule area out onto the sidewalk on the east side of Canal, where most Amtrak passengers enter and exit the station, which also houses an office building known as 222 S. Riverside. Signs have been posted telling Megabus passengers to wait outside the building.

"Unfortunately, the passengers of this bus operator have been misled to believe it has an indoor facility for its customers in Chicago," said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari. "We have no business relationship with this company.

"The vestibule must be kept open for the flow of passengers to and from the station, and it is the primary point for emergency medical response to the building. It is not a waiting area," Magliari added.

Some visitors to Chicago are receiving a bad impression as a result of the traffic headaches and the dispute between Amtrak and Megabus.

Bill Stern, an attorney from West Bloomfield, Mich., and his family were stranded outside Union Station for 2 1/2 hours Oct. 15 because their Megabus to Detroit did not show up, he said.

Family members included grandparents, aunts and uncles, and the situation "got a little crazy," Stern said.

"The old guys needed to use the restroom during the long wait, but the police hassled the Megabus customers, telling us to go outside and get out of the way," Stern said.

"I wish the police instead went after the bums who were taking people's luggage and extorting `tips' from them for carrying their bags a few feet," Stern said.

----------

Contact Getting Around at jhilkevitch@tribune.com or c/o the Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611. Read recent columns at www.chicagotribune.com/gettingaround.

Marcu Oct 23, 2006 3:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pottebaum
I'm not sure how many times it has been mentioned here already, but the CTA audit is due out next month. It'll definitely influence how much money the agency gets from the state.

Do you know who's doing the audit?

VivaLFuego Oct 23, 2006 3:39 PM

Prediction: The Audit will find that given its constraints (labor unions, low subsidy level), CTA is one of the most efficiently-run major transit operations in the country from a cost perspective. CTA has done a poor job of telling people how much good transit costs. A comparison of operating budgets between Chicago and any other major US city (NYC, Boston, LA, for example) shows how pathetic the Chicago area's contribution to transit funding is.

Taft Oct 23, 2006 4:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego
Prediction: The Audit will find that given its constraints (labor unions, low subsidy level), CTA is one of the most efficiently-run major transit operations in the country from a cost perspective. CTA has done a poor job of telling people how much good transit costs. A comparison of operating budgets between Chicago and any other major US city (NYC, Boston, LA, for example) shows how pathetic the Chicago area's contribution to transit funding is.

Organizations like the Campaign for Better Transit (http://www.bettertransit.com/) still lambast the CTA, no matter how they perform. Not that I disagree with all of their goals. Getting the CTA to be more transparent can only benefit everyone involved. However, a lot of their goals revolve around unrealistic expectations like the expectation of equal service levels on poorly performing routes.

At any rate, I agree with you: the CTA really gets shafted in terms of commitment from the city and state. The whole suburb vs. city battle doesn't help either, with the RTA getting bogged down by infighting.

Taft

the urban politician Oct 25, 2006 3:19 PM

http://www.chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/news.pl?id=22572
Oct. 24, 2006

Amtrak’s Illinois expansion derailed
Canadian National Railway withholding use of its tracks for some routes
(AP) — It appeared all was lined up for an expansion next week of Amtrak service in Illinois, from Chicago to the far southern reaches of the state and elsewhere. But that's no longer the case.

Now virtually the entire state's congressional delegation, led by Sen. Dick Durbin, the Senate's second-highest ranking Democrat, is crying foul and accusing the Canadian National Railway Co. of violating an agreement with Amtrak.

"We were notified last week that CN will no longer agree to allow one of the additional roundtrips to St. Louis via Joliet, is threatening to withhold access to the Carbondale route, and may seek to terminate all of the newly added trains in Illinois after just one year," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to the company, saying that would violate CN-Amtrak's deal.

The improved Amtrak service was to be made possible in part by a bigger state subsidy, with the Illinois General Assembly doubling the amount to $24 million this year.

Advertisement





Related Article Topics | Related Industry News
The money was intended to support seven round-trip trains from Chicago to St. Louis, Carbondale and Quincy, up from three trains now.

Durbin spokesman Nadeam Elshami said the senator's office was notified by officials with Amtrak and the Illinois Department of Transportation last Friday about the plans of the Canadian railway, based in Montreal, Quebec.

A receptionist at the company's Canadian office directed a reporter seeking CN comment to its spokesman for operations in the United States, who was not immediately available at his office Tuesday.

In their letter, the lawmakers said that they hope that CN and Amtrak can resolve the matter before Oct. 30, when new service was scheduled to start.

"If this issue is not resolved by then, we request that you meet with us in Washington to discuss this issue the week of November 13th," they said, referring to when Congress reconvenes for its lame-duck session after the Nov. 7. election.

Nearly 1 million passengers used Amtrak lines subsidized by the state last year, a 12.5 percent increase that reached a new record for total passengers.

jpIllInoIs Oct 25, 2006 5:22 PM

^ I saw that too,

It seems as though US transit initiatives are going to be held hostage to non-US conglomerates. More of these conflicts could arise as cities and states begin to sell off their hard assets to raise instant cash, ie Chicago Skyway, Illinois tollway, Indiana tollway, Midway Airport.

Busy Bee Oct 25, 2006 6:01 PM

This is never going to end until the company that RUNS the passenger train OWNS the tracks it's running on. End of story.

the urban politician Oct 27, 2006 4:55 PM

Whew!
 
http://www.chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/news.pl?id=22630
Oct. 27, 2006

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Amtrak expansion in Illinois to proceed
Agreement reached with Canadian National
(AP) — Amtrak's increased service in Illinois will go ahead as planned after the company reached an agreement with Canadian National Railway Co., Sen. Dick Durbin said Friday.

The companies reached an agreement late Thursday that, starting Monday, allows Amtrak access along CN's routes that begin in Chicago and end in St. Louis and Carbondale, Durbin said.

Durbin, the Senate's second-highest ranking Democrat, said Thursday that he was prepared to flex federal legislative muscle if CN hadn't made good on a July agreement that granted Amtrak access along routes to meet growing ridership demand.

"If we had not reached this agreement I'm afraid we would have been headed to court today," Durbin said at a news conference at Springfield's train station.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Durbin said rail officials would re-evaluate the situation in a year to see if the Amtrak trains interfered with freight traffic. If they did, the companies could readjust the train schedule.

"Canadian National had to live up to their agreement and Amtrak and the state of Illinois had to be a little sensitive to their business concerns," Durbin said.

Federal lawmakers from Illinois said they learned last week that CN no longer agreed to one of the additional roundtrips to St. Louis via Joliet, was threatening to withhold access to the Carbondale route, and could seek to terminate all the newly added trains in Illinois after just one year.

Nearly 1 million passengers used Amtrak lines subsidized by the state last year, a 12.5% increase that reached a new record for total passengers.

museumparktom Oct 29, 2006 3:13 AM

Roosevelt Road Metra Station
 
I noticed 2 crews working on putting down a new track just north of the 11th street bridge today. Could this be the realignment of the tracks in preperation of a new Metra station at the 11th street bridge and the tearing down of the Roosevelt Road shanty? I think I read that the funds had been released to Metra in August but I didn't think any work was going to start until next March 2007. Any one know whats up?

zilfondel Oct 29, 2006 7:48 AM

Way to go, Canada! Fight the good fight... Canadian politicans and companies probably paid millions of dollars to CN to help keep America hooked on its oil addiction... just waiting to line up those oil sands in Alberta for US consumption!

Those trains gave me a good fright there. Glad someone stepped in... now, please pass the Hummer!

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician
Terms of the deal were not disclosed...

Of course they won't be disclosed. Unfortunately, it appears my first comment was too hasty - all of this new 'rail transit' is being shoved down our throats by greedy politicians. When will it ever end? ;)

ardecila Oct 31, 2006 5:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by museumparktom
I didn't think any work was going to start until next March 2007. Any one know whats up?

Could be just regular maintenance work.

spyguy Nov 4, 2006 5:17 AM

Never saw this until now
 
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/p...litics-utiltop

Transit woes are not going any place
Governor candidates tell how to improve area's transportation

By Rick Pearson

Tribune political reporter
Published September 25, 2006

High gasoline prices, increasing demand on mass transit and continued metropolitan growth that strains road and rail networks will increase pressure on the state's next governor to deal with travel congestion.

In responding to the third in a series of Tribune questionnaires on issues facing voters in the Nov. 7 election, the candidates for governor find themselves looking at transportation solutions not only for tomorrow, but far into the future.

Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich points the finger at Republican legislators for the failure of a $2.3 billion bond-funded road program that he contends would leverage an additional $1.5 billion in federal highway funds, and generate $425 million for mass transit, capturing another $1.7 billion in federal money.

"I had hoped that the General Assembly would accept this proposal. But it was struck down on partisan grounds," Blagojevich said.

Blagojevich has not been able to pass a bond-funded construction plan during his tenure as governor, due largely to a legislative requirement in the state constitution that makes support from Republicans a prerequisite.

Republicans, however, have maintained that they do not believe the Democratic governor will back projects in GOP-dominated areas.

Republican governor candidate Judy Baar Topinka, the three-term state treasurer, has proposed spending at least $2 billion on transportation as part of a revenue plan that is based on a land-based casino for Chicago and expanded gambling at current riverboat casinos. Blagojevich has labeled Topinka's plan a "gimmick."

"Illinois has not had a capital program in four years and now has huge capital needs. We have to move forward or risk losing federal dollars available to Illinois for infrastructure projects," Topinka said.

Green Party candidate Richard Whitney said highway funding should be focused on maintenance, repair and resurfacing, "not expanding our network of roads and highways to support an increasingly impractical form of transportation."

Instead, Whitney said more focus should be placed on "energy-efficient and environmentally friendly" forms of transportation, including rail, and "smarter urban planning that can make bicycle and pedestrian commutes more feasible."

Blagojevich maintained he has no interest in selling or leasing the tollway, noting his efforts to reduce tollway congestion by aiming to make Illinois the first state to feature "open-road tolling" systemwide.

Topinka opposes a tollway sale or lease, warning it would allow lawmakers to spend money without regard to the motorists who paid for the system.

Whitney said motorists would be the losers in such a deal through higher tolls and less public accountability.

As for the region's air-traffic issues, Whitney said he opposed both the multibillion-dollar expansion of O'Hare International Airport as well as plans for a third regional airport near Peotone.

"I believe that most of the support for the O'Hare expansion and/or south suburban airport is being generated by wealthy development interests who don't have the best interests of the people in mind," Whitney said.

Blagojevich said he backs the O'Hare and Peotone projects as well as expansion of regional airports, like the one in Rockford. "The modernization of O'Hare benefits the entire state of Illinois," Blagojevich said.

The governor acknowledged that disputes over the local political control of Peotone continue and "more needs to be done" to resolve differences to move the project forward.

Topinka said she would work with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley in support of O'Hare modernization and would also bring together the political factions battling over control of a south suburban airport.

On the need for local improvements in mass transit, Blagojevich said he had approved increased dollars for the Regional Transportation Authority and said he would work for better "integration" of the Chicago region's transportation systems.

Topinka said she would work with the Chicago area's political and transit leadership on improved funding and said she believes more should be done for Downstate transit projects.

But, she said, "The State of Illinois has very serious financial problems, too, and the state's options are limited. I cannot make promises for more state support until this state's fiscal problems are under control."

Whitney said strong state support for the RTA, including funding to close an anticipated budget deficit and money for capital projects, was a higher priority than auto or air transportation projects. He also said the state needed to explore expansion of mass transit Downstate, and intercity train and light rail projects.

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Responses from Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich

Responses from Republican governor candidate Judy Baar Topinka

Responses from Green Party candidate Richard Whitney

Chicago Shawn Nov 4, 2006 6:48 PM

Although I disagree with him about O'hare, I think Whitney really understands the situation at hand. If only he made a stronger pitch for governer, he would actually have a good chance of winning.

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

TRANSPORTATION

Responses from Green Party candidate Richard Whitney

Published September 25, 2006


1. Please describe in detail your goals for a road construction program in Illinois. How large should it be? How do you plan to fund it? What particular projects do you think should be major priorities?

We need to focus our road construction projects on repair, maintenance and resurfacing - not expanding our network of roads and highways to support an increasingly impractical form of transportation.

Fluctuations aside, the price of petroleum will continue to rise. We need a major shift in our transportation priorities to favor more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly modes of transportation, such as high-speed rail and light rail - as well as smarter urban planning that can make bicycle and pedestrian commutes more feasible. For even if bio-fueled, hydrogen-powered, or electric autos become practical, roads themselves are built with petroleum-based products and require the use of gas guzzling heavy machinery. That's one of the reasons why road construction costs rose 16 percent in the last year alone.

Rail is also a better job creator. A billion dollars spent on rail creates 7,000 more jobs than a billion dollars spent on roads.

2. Explain your position about the need for expanding O'Hare International Airport and plans for a third regional airport? If you support a south suburban airport, is Peotone the best location and how would you overcome the political impasse that exists over control of a new airport?

I do not support either the O'Hare expansion or a South suburban airport. To the extent that air traffic needs justify some additional capacity, I would favor an expansion at Rockford or Gary. More generally, rising fuel prices favor a shift away from air transit to more energy-efficient, and lower greenhouse-gas-emitting, high-speed rail - and certainly that's where State funding priorities should flow.

I believe that most of the support for the O'Hare expansion and/or South suburban airport is being generated by wealthy development interests who don't have the best interests of the people in mind. Granted, South Chicago is badly in need of new jobs. However, there are better ways of addressing that need than condemning farmers' and homeowners' land in Peotone, ruining their quiet way of life, and promoting more urban sprawl and congestion in the process.

3. If elected, would you propose the sale or lease of the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority at any time during the next four years? Please explain your answer.

No. It is the obligation of the State to maintain our infrastructure. Privatization means placing our assets in the hands of private businesses that will be further insulated from public accountability, and that have a profit incentive to cut corners on costs, and/or raise fees (i.e., tolls), in order to ensure a satisfactory bottom line.

Granted, strict terms of contract can control some abuses. However, this entails using State resources to oversee and police the contract. While privatization advocates take it as an article of faith that this is more cost-effective, what really happens is that taxpayers (and tollpayers) get the worst of both worlds: They still have to pay for public bureaucratic overhead, and they are subsidizing a private profiteer that is not directly accountable to them.

4. The Regional Transportation Authority is warning that without a massive infusion of state support, service cuts and fare increases are likely. What are your plans for supporting mass transit?

For reasons stated above, mass transit would be a high priority for the Whitney administration: It is more energy efficient, less polluting and less greenhouse-gas emitting than auto or air transit. I believe that it would be appropriate for the State to provide financial assistance to the RTA to help it close its over $100 million operating deficit, as well as a new capital funding. We also need to expand mass transit downstate, beginning with feasibility studies for new intercity rail corridors (e.g., serving Peoria and Decatur) as well as regional light rail (e.g., Marion-Carbondale area).

5. What is your plan to lower gas prices?

The State of Illinois has no real power to lower gas prices. The causes of high gas prices are the end of the era of cheap oil and, more immediately, price-gouging by the oil monopolies. Other than asking our Attorney General to look into an anti-trust action against the oil monopolies, there is nothing the State can do. Yes, we could cut the gas tax - but that would only address a small percentage of the problem - and it would cost us revenues needed to help maintain our roadways. We can and should push for higher fuel economy standards in Illinois, as in California. But the only real solution is to support and develop real transportation alternatives to the gas-powered automobile.

Chicago2020 Nov 4, 2006 10:01 PM

I wonder if that guy knows how many near collisions there have been at O'Hare recently.

Airport traffic is just going to increase, and the chances of an event like the 2 747's that collided with each other about 30 years ago, will increase. It will just become way to dangerous at O'Hare.

brian_b Nov 4, 2006 10:42 PM

I'm voting for him, and O'Hare expansion is happening no matter who is in the governors office and no matter what they think about it.

Marcu Nov 5, 2006 3:07 AM

He's kidding himself if he thinks Illinois' support for high-speed rail can replace airport expansion. First, the feds and the other states don't support high-speed rail at this point. Second, even a train travelling at an insanely fast 200mph would take 10 hours to get form Chicago to LA. That's just not an option for the average business traveler.

Latoso Nov 5, 2006 10:18 AM

:previous: I agree. But high speed-rail would be a regional solution (ie. Chicago to Minneapolis, Detroit, St. Louis) not a national one.

Chicago Shawn Nov 5, 2006 4:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by brian_b
I'm voting for him, and O'Hare expansion is happening no matter who is in the governors office and no matter what they think about it.

Agreed. He really can't stop O'hare at this point, but he can put the breaks on Peotone and other wasteful spending for wider and wider roads out to exurbia. For that reason, I just might vote for him. A actual polititian who understands the true cost of an auto-dependent environment is certinaly a breath of fresh air. It would save our state so much money in the long run, money that can be redirected into social programs and other much needed items.

LA21st Nov 5, 2006 5:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VivaLFuego
I believe both are in the design stage, and are joint City/CTA projects. Randolph/Wabash and Madison/Wabash will be removed and replaced with one station at Washington/Wabash. Not sure about any details of State/Lake, but I hope there is some real integration and a direct connection to the subway station underneath.


Really? I had no idea. Is this a good idea to remove the stations?

the urban politician Nov 5, 2006 7:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LA21st
Really? I had no idea. Is this a good idea to remove the stations?

^ I agree. I love how the Randolph/Wabash station looks coming in from Mich Ave.

VivaLFuego Nov 5, 2006 11:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LA21st
Really? I had no idea. Is this a good idea to remove the stations?

Well operationally, yes, the stations are too close as it is, this will speed up running times and improve speeds moving through the loop.

That said, there are some neat architectural details at both stations that would of course be lost. Also, the the 30% design docs I've seen for Wash/Wabash show the main entrace being from the 2nd floor of the Garland Building (for some reason, CDOT is obsessed with having transit stations hook up directly into buildings, which I think is unwise as its much faster for everyone if they simply dump you right on the street).

left of center Nov 5, 2006 11:49 PM

^ That would be a damn shame, honestly, to lose those 2 stations. I understand that they want to speed up travel times, but seriously, there are a ton of other ways to spend that money that would probably speed up travel time even more. I think the CTA should focus on getting rid of all the damn slow zones, especially those on the north Red Line. Getting rid of Madison and Randolph shouldnt be high priority (and shouldnt be done at all, IMO).

Unofrtunatly, the CTA has done this in the past, with the Washington/Wells stop, and i think the Library stop was also 2 different stops at one point as well. I think we can deal with having 3 stops on one side of the Loop and not have to worry too much about it.

honte Nov 6, 2006 12:43 AM

^ Agreed. This will be a terrible loss. It may improve travel times, but I think it will hurt the system overall as people will see this as a major inconvenience, and may opt for other means of transport. I think the merchants will also be in a major uproar when this becomes better-known.

If they're going to put some new connections into the 2nd floor of buildings, why not reconstruct the Sullivan connection that used to go into the Carson's building? That would be awesome.


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