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Chicago Shawn Mar 6, 2009 12:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChicagoChicago (Post 4124052)
Uhhh...No. Daley may not run the CITY government in democratic fashion, but our federal government is doing just fine in that regard.

To say Daley has done nothing but improve Chicago is shortsighted. Some things have improved. Corruption has not. Daley just recently lost the city a $150m in free BRT funds. Stellar job there, DICK!

How long have you lived here? Did you experience this city in the 80's-early 90's? I was still a young one at the time, but let me tell you in the 80's, this city was a rotting shithole. In 1982, the Chicago Tribune declared that the city of Chicago was in a decline with no end in sight and no bright future. Seriously, the amount of investment that has occurred here is nothing short of a miracle. Daley has done many great things for this city and has quite a bit of vision for the future. Yes, he may be shortsighted in some respects, yes his strong-arm political maneuvers aren't popular with some folks; but the man can get things done, has gotten many things done, and knows how to work the system. You need an iron fist to cut the red tape of bureaucracy, and that red tape exists everywhere, in every major city. Chicago is particularity difficult because our city government is structured as weak mayor, strong city council, which means 50 butting heads concerned more about their own little kingdoms than the city as a whole. Council wars in the 80's during the Harold Washington administartion is a perfect example, when city government just broke down.

Look at every other city in the Midwest. See a difference? I do. Don't give me the "Chicago was always a stronger city" argument either, because this place was hemorrhaging for 50 years and on its way to becoming a sequel of Detroit. Many of the infrastructure issues we are dealing with now are a result of a half century of neglect. That is a lot of shit to repair, especially when we get the shaft from the federal government, being the major donor state that we are. Much has improved, and yes we still have a long way to go.

You can't fault Daley solely for the BRT collapse. This wasn't "free", we had to hike parking rates in the already high garages. That had to pass the city council, and believe me, the alderman where getting quite an earful from angry car-driving constituents. There needs to be time to build a consensus in the democratic forum that you are preaching about, and it was scheduled for a vote, which was just ~13 days over the original deadline. Put some blame on Bush's plant for Transportation Secretary, Mary Peters. She had proven herself to be very pro-car over her tenure anyway.

emathias Mar 6, 2009 12:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChicagoChicago (Post 4124934)
I've already answered this in another question, but LA county is not encompassing LA's full metro, including parts of Orange county. That said, I was probably (our current unemployment rate is not available yet) wrong in the assesment of the UE, but that isn't a assessment of the full economy.

True, but LA County accounts for almost 10 million people of the LA metro area. The O.C. has about 3 million, so even if they were at 0% unemployment it would only drop the combined OC/LA Counties to 8%. And while OC isn't at 10.5% unemployment, it ain't at 0% unemployment either. For December, O.C. was at 6.5%, and based on how LAC and CA in general did, I'd guess they were pushing 7% in January.

It's not a measure of the full economy, but it is definitely significant.

EDIT: Found LA Metro figure for December - 9.5% - here

jjk1103 Mar 6, 2009 1:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago Shawn (Post 4125269)
How long have you lived here? Did you experience this city in the 80's-early 90's? I was still a young one at the time, but let me tell you in the 80's, this city was a rotting shithole. In 1982, the Chicago Tribune declared that the city of Chicago was in a decline with no end in sight and no bright future. Seriously, the amount of investment that has occurred here is nothing short of a miracle. Daley has done many great things for this city and has quite a bit of vision for the future. Yes, he may be shortsighted in some respects, yes his strong-arm political maneuvers aren't popular with some folks; but the man can get things done, has gotten many things done, and knows how to work the system. You need an iron fist to cut the red tape of bureaucracy, and that red tape exists everywhere, in every major city. Chicago is particularity difficult because our city government is structured as weak mayor, strong city council, which means 50 butting heads concerned more about their own little kingdoms than the city as a whole. Council wars in the 80's during the Harold Washington administartion is a perfect example, when city government just broke down.

Look at every other city in the Midwest. See a difference? I do. Don't give me the "Chicago was always a stronger city" argument either, because this place was hemorrhaging for 50 years and on its way to becoming a sequel of Detroit. Many of the infrastructure issues we are dealing with now are a result of a half century of neglect. That is a lot of shit to repair, especially when we get the shaft from the federal government, being the major donor state that we are. Much has improved, and yes we still have a long way to go.

You can't fault Daley solely for the BRT collapse. This wasn't "free", we had to hike parking rates in the already high garages. That had to pass the city council, and believe me, the alderman where getting quite an earful from angry car-driving constituents. There needs to be time to build a consensus in the democratic forum that you are preaching about, and it was scheduled for a vote, which was just ~13 days over the original deadline. Put some blame on Bush's plant for Transportation Secretary, Mary Peters. She had proven herself to be very pro-car over her tenure anyway.

....I agree !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D :D :D :D :D :D

Chicago3rd Mar 6, 2009 1:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bnk (Post 4119269)
I am getting more than a little fed up with Chicago selling or leasing out money generating assets. I thought it was stupid for asshat Blago to try to sell and lease back the Thompson Center [1]. Thankfully that tactic failed.

I could live with the Skyway deal, I am against Midway, and the parking meters and garages was the last straw for me.



This really needs to stop for there will be no assets left at some point with no income coming from them. The one time payouts will have been more than blown away, way before some of these 99 year leases are expired.:hell:


I am not saying that some of these CTA assets are not worthy of sale but this continued sell off city assets and privatization is starting to piss me off.




Yea lets dump all of our assets ASAP we need the upfront money now! As an individual one can also get payday loans, loans on income tax returns, bulk payouts on legal settlements too. But those are only for the most desperate and ill informed getting their financial ass handed to them by loan sharks.

This short sightedness is rather corporate American. Screw the future, gimme now, and how is our quarter looking.





[1] Proposed sale

When he first came to office, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich proposed selling the building to assuage the state budget.[4] The proposal was heavily criticized.[4] Lawmakers at first agreed to the plan,[5] but later a $200 million mortgage was agreed to instead, payable over 10 years.[6] The plan was declared unconstitutional by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan in June 2004.[7] The plan was set aside, although it had already cost the state $532,000 in legal fees.[8]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_R._Thompson_Center

CTA is selling the land now when it has gone down so far so that the Corporate/Rich people in Chicago can buy it cheap. As usual our Capitalist system is based on redistribution of the wealth from plain people to the rich.

Attrill Mar 6, 2009 2:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago Shawn (Post 4125269)
You can't fault Daley solely for the BRT collapse. This wasn't "free", we had to hike parking rates in the already high garages. That had to pass the city council, and believe me, the alderman where getting quite an earful from angry car-driving constituents. There needs to be time to build a consensus in the democratic forum that you are preaching about, and it was scheduled for a vote, which was just ~13 days over the original deadline. Put some blame on Bush's plant for Transportation Secretary, Mary Peters. She had proven herself to be very pro-car over her tenure anyway.

Exactly. The BRT money had too many strings attached, NYC was unable to meet an earlier deadline for exactly the same reasons. Add to that the fact that Obama had won the election and it seemed kind of pointless to expend a lot of political capital on what is a relatively small project of questionable value. It makes a lot more sense to just wait a few months and ask for the money with no strings attached if there is a real need for BRT.

Attrill Mar 6, 2009 2:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago3rd (Post 4125417)
CTA is selling the land now when it has gone down so far so that the Corporate/Rich people in Chicago can buy it cheap. As usual our Capitalist system is based on redistribution of the wealth from plain people to the rich.

lol - have you even looked at what they are selling? Only 13 properties out of over 400 that they own. More than half are buildings that were cut in half by the recent Brown Line work, or are lots that were bought to be staging areas for the Brown Line project.

The Brown Line work is wrapping up, they're selling off buildings and lots as part of that.

Abner Mar 6, 2009 3:07 AM

This is getting to be more appropriate for another thread just for this purpose, but it is so bogus to compare Chicago to other Midwest cities, or to Chicago 30 years ago, as some kind of proof of Daley's brilliance that I don't even know where to begin. Any ninth-grader can tell you the question isn't "Are you better off than you were 30 years ago" but "Are you better off than you would be had you done something different." No knowledgeable person ever believed that Chicago was going to be "like Detroit," period, unless they believed that about all American cities. And Chicago was so bad 30 years ago? Name one single major American city that wasn't. We like to preen and crow, but Chicago's comeback is no more spectacular than that of half a dozen major cities in this country. There were bigger forces at play than Daley, and he doesn't get all the credit.

So that kind of thinking is totally beside the point. It makes a lot more sense to look at things that Daley has actually done. Many of these things are politely left undiscussed here. Probably the most important of these is TIF. The city collected $550 million [pdf] from TIF in 2007, an amount that has grown explosively during Daley's mayoralty. If that money were included in the City's budget [pdf] (it's actually excluded from the budget even though we pay it), it would have increased the total amount of reported appropriations by 10%. Anybody who looks at the way the Daley budget completely ignores TIF--neither "TIF" nor "tax increment financing" appears ANYWHERE in the published budget--can only conclude that the administration's level of willful misinformation about appropriations in its budget is matched only by that of the Bush administration.

The Community Development Commission is supposed to oversee the TIF program, but over 99% of the individual votes cast in the CDC are yea votes (from Cook County Commissioner and soon to be Congressman Mike Quigley, here [pdf]. That is a rubber stamp if ever there was one. It is a system with essentially zero oversight, and it covers one third of the land in this city. Many studies conducted at UIC have concluded that the TIF program raises taxes and does not improve neighborhoods enough for the extremely high cost.

Think about where Chicago would be if, instead of giving that money away to developers, we had used it to lower taxes, contribute to schools and police, and spend it on transit repairs.

Everybody complains about corruption. But only about the aldermen and the county. Tell me, who is the most powerful politician in Cook County? Do you really think Mayor Daley has no influence whatsoever over the corruption in the city? I don't mean that he profits personally, but it's clear that there is a general agreement between him and the aldermen: they get carte blanche over developments in their wards, and in return they look the other way and let him do as he pleases with everything else. Do you really think the mayor has no ability to stop spot zoning? No ability even to get on the soap box to speak out against it?

Can anybody here, by the way, name one single thing Mayor Daley ever did for transit in this city that even begins to make up for his decades of neglect? He famously said that transit has lost its constituency, and he has continued to govern under that apparent belief since then. He left Kruesi in charge of the CTA LONG after he was known to be harming the agency's position. He virtually ignored the CTA's funding problems until they reached the breaking point, then threw a fit about how the state had to do something about it without actually working toward a solution himself. He is known to never take CTA except for publicity events. During that glorious boom he takes so much credit for, at no point did he ever even appear to consider a campaign to improve our desperate, dying transit system. On transit, he gets an F.

Chicago Shawn Mar 6, 2009 3:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Attrill (Post 4125523)
lol - have you even looked at what they are selling? Only 13 properties out of over 400 that they own. More than half are buildings that were cut in half by the recent Brown Line work, or are lots that were bought to be staging areas for the Brown Line project.

The Brown Line work is wrapping up, they're selling off buildings and lots as part of that.

And wasn't the purchase of those properties largely subsidized by the federal government's new starts funds? Seems to be that any selling of the Brown Line properties would come to the CTA as a profit.

Sure, I would like to see the CTA get a little more creative and lease out these properties to business and residents, but that would mean that CTA would need to keep people on the payroll to just keep track of those lease agreements. Does CTA have such people already on the workforce? And if so, would the extra labor be worth the monetary gain of new leases? Perhaps someone in the CTA loop could answer that....

the urban politician Mar 6, 2009 4:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Abner (Post 4125542)
This is getting to be more appropriate for another thread just for this purpose, but it is so bogus to compare Chicago to other Midwest cities, or to Chicago 30 years ago...

^ It may be impossible to ever know if another mayor would have done a better job than Daley. It certainly is quite a chore to analyze the 20+ years of the Daley administration for all its successes and misgivings. It may be impossible to say for sure what Daley got right and what he got wrong..

When Daley said that transit had lost its constituency, for example, it was in the early to mid-90's and transit ridership truly was hitting an all time low (if I read the data right). It was just the beginning of the SUV boom, which captivated America, and an era of national economic prosperity was just hitting its stride. Gas was consistently priced at under a dollar a gallon! Daley has largely been Mayor during an era in which transit simply wasn't a priority for Americans in general.

But the Orange Line was built, the Blue Line was rebuilt, the Brown Line capacity was expanded, and slow zones are being eliminated. World Business Chicago was formed, the city has done well in the headquarters race, and Chicago is definitely a very serious contender for the 2016 Games. With a new Federal Administration in power, perhaps Daley will recognize a renewed interest in transit and go with it...or perhaps not.

I'll defer to you lifelong Chicagoans on judging your benevolent dictator. My personal opinion? If Chicago doesn't get the Olympic Games and if Daley doesn't get on the transit bandwagon, it may be time to seriously consider whether this benevolent dictator has become a wee bit antiquated..

ChicagoChicago Mar 6, 2009 4:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago Shawn (Post 4125269)
How long have you lived here? Did you experience this city in the 80's-early 90's? I was still a young one at the time, but let me tell you in the 80's, this city was a rotting shithole. In 1982, the Chicago Tribune declared that the city of Chicago was in a decline with no end in sight and no bright future. Seriously, the amount of investment that has occurred here is nothing short of a miracle. Daley has done many great things for this city and has quite a bit of vision for the future. Yes, he may be shortsighted in some respects, yes his strong-arm political maneuvers aren't popular with some folks; but the man can get things done, has gotten many things done, and knows how to work the system. You need an iron fist to cut the red tape of bureaucracy, and that red tape exists everywhere, in every major city. Chicago is particularity difficult because our city government is structured as weak mayor, strong city council, which means 50 butting heads concerned more about their own little kingdoms than the city as a whole. Council wars in the 80's during the Harold Washington administartion is a perfect example, when city government just broke down.

Look at every other city in the Midwest. See a difference? I do. Don't give me the "Chicago was always a stronger city" argument either, because this place was hemorrhaging for 50 years and on its way to becoming a sequel of Detroit. Many of the infrastructure issues we are dealing with now are a result of a half century of neglect. That is a lot of shit to repair, especially when we get the shaft from the federal government, being the major donor state that we are. Much has improved, and yes we still have a long way to go.

You can't fault Daley solely for the BRT collapse. This wasn't "free", we had to hike parking rates in the already high garages. That had to pass the city council, and believe me, the alderman where getting quite an earful from angry car-driving constituents. There needs to be time to build a consensus in the democratic forum that you are preaching about, and it was scheduled for a vote, which was just ~13 days over the original deadline. Put some blame on Bush's plant for Transportation Secretary, Mary Peters. She had proven herself to be very pro-car over her tenure anyway.

This is a "what have you done for me lately?" world. I'll give Daley all the credit in the world for cleaning up Chicago. But that was almost 20 years ago.

Chicago was given a deadline. We were awarded the grant in February (I think) 2008. Our city officials screwed the pooch on it. Even allowing the city council to vote it down is better than letting it sit on his desk and ROT. Blaming Bush on this will get you nowhere. They set the rules. We knew the rules. We watched as NYC lost out on this money, and somehow expected a different outcome if we missed the deadline too?

the urban politician Mar 6, 2009 4:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChicagoChicago (Post 4125659)
We watched as NYC lost out on this money, and somehow expected a different outcome if we missed the deadline too?

^ No, that's not true. NYC didn't lose the money because of a missed deadline. It lost the money because the city council did not approve a congestion charge.

Abner Mar 6, 2009 5:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 4125658)
But the Orange Line was built, the Blue Line was rebuilt, the Brown Line capacity was expanded, and slow zones are being eliminated.

I'll try to stay focused on transit from here on. The Orange Line started construction in 1985, during those supposedly hellish inter-Daley years (the O'Hare extension was done during those years too). That had nothing to do with Daley. The only "new" el service under Daley has been the reconstruction of the Paulina Connector. You note that the Blue Line was rebuilt, but let's remember that it was only repaired after what could have been a catastrophic derailment, and that the inspection process that should have resulted in earlier repair was completely broken (I'll defer to Viva on whether or not that dismal failure can be attributed to Daley's buddy Kruesi).

The real accomplishments of the last 20 years in el service have been in keeping the system from actually falling apart. These were the rehabs of the Green Line and the Douglas branch, and the capacity expansion on the Brown Line. I won't say that Daley himself committed any egregious errors with those projects (although the Green Line rehab generally suffered from the poor relations between the City/CTA and the black community, not Daley's fault) but rather that he passed up opportunities to do things that should have been done. He has had a completely hands-off approach to transit matters.

He has shown no interest in working to repair the North Main Line, convince RTA to work on fare integration, or promote any service expansions. On the rare occasion that somebody asks him about these things, he bloviates about how it's not his responsibility and the city doesn't have the money, etc., of course always studiously ignoring his half billion dollar slush fund and the fact that as it is the city contributes a dismally tiny amount of funding to the CTA compared to comparable cities. And the one project he did decide to champion, the Block 37 superstation connected to an airport express train, was always a harebrained scheme and became a spectacular, unmitigated disaster.

Of course, then there's the matter of his selling the Olympics by promising transit improvements, then dropping any plans there might have been completely once Chicago won the US bid.

pip Mar 6, 2009 6:15 AM

^been here 6 years, I think you ought to take a look around and see what else is out there, especially considering here is on the cheap for what Chicago is comparable to. Go to other cities without renting a car, aside from maybe 5 or 6 US cities, you know the very expensive ones, it won't be easy. In those cheaper or equel cost of living cities go around and hit the downtowns and the neighborhoods and try to do it by transit. Check out there income, property and overall tax rates too. Tell me what you think after. Yup there are a few better cities but they are too pricey in especially cost of living and have higher taxes also.

Nowhereman1280 Mar 6, 2009 6:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Abner (Post 4125767)
He has shown no interest in working to repair the North Main Line

Of course, then there's the matter of his selling the Olympics by promising transit improvements, then dropping any plans there might have been completely once Chicago won the US bid.

Sorry not buying either of these statements.

A. No repairs on the North Main Line? Have you paid any attention to the north main line? Ummm in the last 3 years alone Howard has been completely rebuilt, Fullerton and Belmont have been completely rebuilt. The Brown Line stations have been completely rebuilt. Large areas of track have been completely torn up and the old wood ties replaced with composites vanquishing almost all of the major slow zones except the one north of Loyola stop. They have been systematically improving all of the stops not only replacing the stairwell screens and lighting, but also tearing out the old rotting ceilings and wiring in the stops Lawrence, Argyle, Bryn Mawr, Berwin, Thorndale, Granville, Morse, and Jarvis. There are plans to completely renovate Wilson stop as well. You obviously don't use the North Main line very much if you haven't noticed the huge improvements that have ocured in the last year or two...

I mean just the other day I was coming home and got off at Berwin and thought to myself "man, with the exception of the old floor with the worn ruts in it, this looks like a brand new station." I hope they don't replace the floor anyhow because I like the ruts by the turnstiles where millions of feet have worn down the floor.


B. Have you read anything at all about the Olympic bid? The Federal government never allocates funds for transit for Olympic bids until after the city wins the bid. If you look at the history of it, Chicago is in line to receive about $2 billion in transit if we win the bid. Why don't you read a little bit before you start spouting off BS that you heard somewhere...

the urban politician Mar 6, 2009 3:12 PM

Posted at SSC:

Quote:

Originally Posted by jpIllInoIs (Post 33229946)
Planners meeting today at 9:30am CMAP Offices, 233 S. Wacker Dr

Looks like METRA's big splurge will be on the White Sox/35th St Station on the Rock Island line.



http://www.chitowndailynews.org/Chic..._dollars,23410

CTA, Metra vie for stimulus dollars


DONATE BY ADRIAN G. URIBARRI
March 05, 2009 | 1:15 PM
Hundreds of millions of federal dollars are up for grabs, and Chicago-area transit agencies are finally ready to claim them.

At a meeting tomorrow, the Transportation Committee of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning will choose whether to approve a $1.6 billion improvement plan that includes projects for the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra commuter rail and Pace suburban buses.

The committee, made up of 30 representatives from various transportation groups around Chicago, meets regularly to discuss ongoing projects and decide on changes. But the meeting tomorrow will have added importance as it will determine which projects will have the chance to secure funds from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

"In terms of the stimulus package, this is new and even unique," CMAP spokesman Tom Garritano says. "It's not business as usual."

The improvement plan's 116 projects include bus and rail-car overhauls and repairs, signal replacements and upgrades, rail-station reconstruction, preventative maintenance, infrastructure renovations and facility improvements for the CTA. The Pace suburban-bus system would receive money for vehicle replacement and repairs.

For Metra commuter rail, the plan includes $7.9 million for the new 35th Street Station in the Rock Island District, east of U.S. Cellular Field, where the Chicago White Sox play. The agency would also receive money for vehicle repairs, replacement of rail lines, station upgrades, commuter-car improvements, bridge renovations and an underground cable from Cook County to Kane County.

It also includes plans for highway, road and bridge improvements.

To be eligible for federal stimulus money, Garritano says, local agencies must coordinate projects on a regional level. CMAP, which serves as the coordinating regional body, must approve the projects before implementing agencies such as the CTA can submit proposals to the federal government.

Holly Ostdick, assistant planner at CMAP, says that under the improvement plan, the agencies are switching from previous federal funding sources to the stimulus package.

According to the plan, CMAP officials anticipated $612 million for projects. They now expect more than $1.6 billion.

Nationally, the federal stimulus package includes $48 billion for transportation infrastructure of highways and bridges, mass transit, rail and aviation, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. Of that funding, $936 million will go to the state for highway and bridge projects, and $468 million will go toward mass transit.

To secure all of the money, officials must adhere to what they have called "use it or lose it" rules. For transit projects, half of all stimulus money must be obligated for projects within six months of when they become available. For highway and bridge projects, the deadline is two months earlier.

The federal government will distribute money to the states no later than March 10, according to IDOT documents.

Tomorrow's meeting is at 9:30 a.m. at the CMAP offices, 233 S. Wacker Drive, Suite 800 in Chicago.


Taft Mar 6, 2009 4:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by the urban politician (Post 4126163)
Posted at SSC:
...
Holly Ostdick, assistant planner at CMAP, says that under the improvement plan, the agencies are switching from previous federal funding sources to the stimulus package.

According to the plan, CMAP officials anticipated $612 million for projects. They now expect more than $1.6 billion.
...

This is interesting. Good to see this money going for improvements which will be useful. I hope that when the stimulus money runs out we can get that federal funding back, paltry though it may be.

Chicago3rd Mar 6, 2009 4:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Attrill (Post 4125523)
lol - have you even looked at what they are selling? Only 13 properties out of over 400 that they own. More than half are buildings that were cut in half by the recent Brown Line work, or are lots that were bought to be staging areas for the Brown Line project.

The Brown Line work is wrapping up, they're selling off buildings and lots as part of that.

Hah....have do you believe it would have sold for less than it will now when the market was higher?:koko:

Attrill Mar 6, 2009 6:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago3rd (Post 4126325)
Hah....have do you believe it would have sold for less than it will now when the market was higher?:koko:

Obviously not. But I don't think the CTA bought property along the Brown Line years ago "so that the Corporate/Rich people in Chicago can buy it cheap" when the market tanked. For starters I don't think the CTA could predict the real estate market, and if prices were higher they would be selling them for more. The majority of properties being sold were bought to facilitate Brown Line work. Now that the Brown Line work is wrapping up they are selling the properties off. I don't know why you see some conspiracy by the CTA to help the "Corporate/Rich people" in this.

If the CTA ends up selling properties to politically connected people for less than market value then you will have a point. But nothing of the sort has happened and there is no indication that it is in the process of happening. They have put the properties on the open market to be bought by the highest bidder. Where is the problem with this?

BVictor1 Mar 7, 2009 10:00 PM

http://www.chitowndailynews.org/Chic...projects,23458

http://cdnassets.s3.amazonaws.com/images/logo-974.jpg

CTA gets green light for $241 million in stimulus projects

BY ADRIAN G. URIBARRI
March 06, 2009 | 6:01 PM
The Chicago Transit Authority scored a quick one-two punch this week.

Yesterday, days ahead of the stimulus-package funding deadline, the federal government handed the CTA $241 million for capital projects. Today, a regional planning committee gave the go-ahead for the CTA to start work on them.

Metra will receive $141 million, and the Pace suburban bus line will get $33 million. Chicago-area transit agencies will also receive an additional $245 million in federal capital and planning funds unrelated to the stimulus package.

"This was about as fast as humanly possible," says Tom Garritano, spokesman for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. "The clock has started ticking."

He's referring to the "use it or lose it" rule in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. The measure requires regional transit systems such as the CTA to commit half of their stimulus money within 180 days. For highway and bridge projects, the deadline is 120 days.

The rest of the money must be spent within the following six months.

CMAP's list of 116 projects include:

Bus and rail-car overhauls and repairs, signal replacements and upgrades, rail-station reconstruction, preventative maintenance, infrastructure renovations and facility improvements for the CTA.
$7.9 million for the new 35th Street Metra station in the Rock Island District, where the Chicago White Sox Play at U.S. Cellular Field. Metra also received money for vehicle repairs, replacement of rail lines, station upgrades, commuter-car improvements, bridge renovations and an underground cable from Cook County to Kane County.
Vehicle replacement and repairs at Pace.
At today's committee meeting, most of the gallery was filled with staff members from various government agencies, and not one layperson volunteered to speak during public-comment periods. Since the meeting was at the high-security Sears Tower, visitors needed to call ahead of the meeting to receive a pass.

Under federal guidelines, CMAP needed to approve the projects to allow transit agencies to fund them through the recovery act.

Most of the projects funded under the recovery package were originally scheduled for 2010 and 2011.

"You can't just replace every project that you were going to do this summer anyway," CMAP Executive Director Randy Blankenhorn says. "That doesn't create jobs."

More money needed

Yet in their rush to spend stimulus money and accelerate projects, transit officials say one thing remains clear: They still need more cash.

"It isn't a lot of money," Blankenhorn says of the recovery package. "We really need a capital program in the state of Illinois."

The last time state legislators passed a spending bill for infrastructure capital was 10 years ago, a decade after the previous capital bill came through in 1989.

Last year's state transit bailout, worth about half a billion dollars, was meant for only operating expenses at transit agencies and funded primarily through higher taxes.

Sidney Weseman, division manager for strategic and long-range planning at the Regional Transportation Authority, says that to meet future needs, officials would need a spending bill worth $10 billion over five years.

He says that the federal stimulus package, while helpful, is not enough.

"It doesn't solve our long-term problem," Weseman says. "We've got a lot of junk on the street. The average lifespan of a bus in the city is about 12 years. We've got buses entering 13, 14, 15 years of service."

That plea didn't prompt much sympathy from state Rep. Luis Arroyo (D-Chicago), vice chairman of the House Mass Transit Committee.

"They always come back for money," says Arroyo. "They're mispending their money. They should be safeguarding it. They should have accountability and transparency for how they're spending it."

But Arroyo says he agrees the transit agencies need more money, and would support a spending bill with strong oversight measures.

Chicago3rd Mar 7, 2009 10:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Attrill (Post 4126538)
But nothing of the sort has happened and there is no indication that it is in the process of happening. They have put the properties on the open market to be bought by the highest bidder. Where is the problem with this?

Right...Chicago????:jester:


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