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IrishIllini Nov 19, 2019 7:25 PM

I said it was mostly sufficient ;). That’d be a great project. Not sure how it’d work or if the costs are worth the benefits. Would the brown line tie into the blue line or run beneath it?

It’s tight at Kimball. A lot of property would need to be seized via eminent domain. I don’t see the neighbors going for any elevated or at-grade extensions. It’d have to run in a subway.

wwmiv Nov 19, 2019 7:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by IrishIllini (Post 8752830)
^ I think the system we have is mostly sufficient for our needs. We really only need infill stations, renovations, and dedicated bus lanes at this point.

The north branch is an opportunity for new transit infrastructure, but it may be politically challenging to push for shiny new infrastructure through one of the wealthiest parts of the city at this time. Sterling Bay’s vision of Goose Island and LY as the West Loop 2.0 isn’t viable without rail transit. Easier and cheaper to get that infrastructure going before the NIMBYs move in.

(1) brown line extension
(2) circle line
(3) infill stations
(4) Clyborne corridor / Lincoln Yards

Busy Bee Nov 19, 2019 7:44 PM

.

IrishIllini Nov 19, 2019 7:50 PM

I’ve fallen out of love with the circle line but seems like I’m in the minority there.

ardecila Nov 19, 2019 7:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Busy Bee (Post 8752829)
While 100% true this statement works off the presumption our leaders have any vision at all vis a vis paradigm changing transport projects. It's not just a Chicago metropolitan deficit, zoom out to a state level. Even with a progressive governor, where is the emphasis and coalition building both in-state and with neighboring midwestern states necessary to prioritize vision planning, let alone actual funding and building of a midwestern true high speed rail network?

But where's the need for ambitious planning if the region isn't really growing?

The cities and regions in North America that are building large-scale projects are generally the ones facing significant growth pressures. If you want to think about it politically, the very real growing pains in these regions provide politicians with cover to spend billions on transportation projects. Our city government is broke as a joke, but even if they magically found billions, I imagine most taxpayers would prefer that money go into schools, crime prevention, and public services.

Illinois state government has all the same issues as Chicago government - poor fiscal condition and low growth pressure. I wouldn't expect Springfield to act any differently.

Busy Bee Nov 19, 2019 8:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by IrishIllini (Post 8752949)
I said it was mostly sufficient ;). That’d be a great project. Not sure how it’d work or if the costs are worth the benefits. Would the brown line tie into the blue line or run beneath it?

It’s tight at Kimball. A lot of property would need to be seized via eminent domain. I don’t see the neighbors going for any elevated or at-grade extensions. It’d have to run in a subway.


So glad you asked :D I've been thinking about this for years.

I think what you'd have to do to make an O'Hare (or at least transferable connection @JP Blue Line) extension work is the following:

1) An obvious assumption would be the entire Kimball Yard and station complex would have to be closed and rebuilt below grade. The lead tracks from the at-grade corridor would have to start their northward turn further east by at least 100 feet so they could make the western turn to under Lawrence with the same corner radius so no property acquisition/condemnation for easement would be necessary. On top of a new Kimball Station and Yard complex (likely 20-25 feet below grade) would go a large income generating for the Cta mixed-use development (think 10+ floors). If accommodating the Kimball Yard on the same footprint proved to be too logistically difficult or even impossible an obvious solution lies under the large empty lot on the north side of the Teddy Roosevelt High School property.

2) In order to do this you would really have to eliminate the at-grade Brown Line running section (the "garage door corridor") well before the Kimball station. This could either start immediately to the west of the North Branch bridge or immediately after the Francisco station between the Francisco station and the Kedzie station. Either way the Kedzie station would also be below grade, but a "lid" to the trench would not be necessary until immediately before the Kimball station. I realize this idea may make many a Chicago railfan nauseous at the thought of eliminating these at-grade outer reaches of the Brown Line and all their railfanning charm, but ultimately I think it would be for the best in the interest of modernization and line extension.

3) The new subway extension westward could be accomplished by cut and cover in a quick and modular manner using the latest technology. I don't believe using a TBM would make sense in any way as the geologic depth would not justify its use. A shallow cut-and-cover would be a perfect solution paired with the latest noise and vibration cancelling track to ballast isolation materials and technology as well as the latest in sound/vibration isolating the roof of the concrete box. From there it's the mile or so straight west until...

4) ...And here is where it gets tricky. The subway has to get under the Edens so it would have to drop to about 40-50 feet below Lawrence before it and continue at that depth until the Kennedy (which would require bored tunnel). At this point I should clarify. If you are making this kind of investment it really makes sense to through-run Brown Line trains straight to O'Hare not requiring a multi-minute and walking distance transfer connection @ JP Blue Line, a connection which I've never really fleshed out how would work considering JP station is several hundred feet further north from Lawrence and sense you're tunneling anyway why not just through-run trains directly right? That said, the median Blue Line r.o.w. has the width to accommodate between the two directional tracks two portals north and south offset from one another that get Brown Line trains onto the Blue Line just south of the JP station... and there you have it, direct access to O'Hare from the mid northside and vice versa without having to go downtown first or bussing it to a Kennedy Blue Line station and transferring.

Potential stations along the extension depending on ease of construction could be located at Pulaski Road, Elston Ave or under the MD-North Line creating the potential for a combined Cta/Metra station creating more commuting options.

Busy Bee Nov 19, 2019 9:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by wwmiv (Post 8752968)
(1) brown line extension
(2) circle line
(3) infill stations
(4) Clyborne corridor / Lincoln Yards

Yep

IrishIllini Nov 19, 2019 10:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Busy Bee (Post 8753016)
So glad you asked :D I've been thinking about this for years.

I think what you'd have to do to make an O'Hare (or at least transferable connection @JP Blue Line) extension work is the following:

1) An obvious assumption would be the entire Kimball Yard and station complex would have to be closed and rebuilt below grade. The lead tracks from the at-grade corridor would have to start their northward turn further east by at least 100 feet so they could make the western turn to under Lawrence with the same corner radius so no property acquisition/condemnation for easement would be necessary. On top of a new Kimball Station and Yard complex (likely 20-25 feet below grade) would go a large income generating for the Cta mixed-use development (think 10+ floors). If accommodating the Kimball Yard on the same footprint proved to be too logistically difficult or even impossible an obvious solution lies under the large empty lot on the north side of the Teddy Roosevelt High School property.

2) In order to do this you would really have to eliminate the at-grade Brown Line running section well before the Kimball station. This could either start immediately to the west of the North Branch bridge or immediately after the Francisco station between the Francisco station and the Kedzie station. Either way the Kedzie station would also be below grade, but a "lid" to the trench would not be necessary until immediately before the Kimball station. I realize this idea may make many a Chicago railfan nauseous at the thought of eliminating these at-grade outer reaches of the Brown Line and all their railfanning charm, but ultimately I think it would be for the best in the interest of modernization and line extension.

3) The new subway extension westward could be accomplished by cut and cover in a quick and modular manner using the latest technology. I don't believe using a TBM would make sense in any way as the geologic depth would not justify its use. A shallow cut-and-cover would be a perfect solution paired with the latest noise and vibration cancelling track to ballast isolation materials and technology as well as the latest in sound/vibration isolating the roof of the concrete box. From there it's the mile or so straight west until...

4) ...And here is where it gets tricky. The subway has to get under the Edens so it would have to drop to about 40-50 feet below Lawrence before it and continue at that depth until the Kennedy (which would require bored tunnel). At this point I should clarify. If you are making this kind of investment it really makes sense to through-run Brown Line trains straight to O'Hare not requiring a multi-minute and walking distance transfer connection @ JP Blue Line, a connection which I've never really fleshed out how would work considering JP station is several hundred feet further north from Lawrence and sense you're tunneling anyway why not just through-run trains directly right? That said, the median Blue Line r.o.w. has the width to accommodate between the two directional tracks two portals north and south offset from one another that get Brown Line trains onto the Blue Line just south of the JP station... and there you have it, direct access to O'Hare from the mid northside and vice versa without having to go downtown first or bussing it to a Kennedy Blue Line station and transferring.

I do love those at-grade crossings and I’d be bummed to see them go. I’d be curious to see a cost-benefit analysis between this and a Clinton-Larrabee subway that continues northwest under Clybourn to Belmont, northward under Western to Irving Park, and westward under Irving Park to the existing blue line before heading out to O’Hare. At the south end, maybe have it cut east down Monroe and terminate at the downtown superstation.

Other than being my baby :D, I feel this fills a lot of holes in our transit system on the north side. It’d get a subway tunnel beneath Western (future expansion potential) and frees up some capacity on the blue line by providing a bypass for the worst stretch of it. It connects the north side to the West Loop. Ogilvie and Union Stations are now connected to the North Branch. It also creates the environment necessary to put an end to the auto centric land uses along Clybourn, Elston, and Western. You have access to O’Hare through a North/Clybourn transfer or shorter bus ride west. Winning bigly!

emathias Nov 20, 2019 3:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ardecila (Post 8752988)
But where's the need for ambitious planning if the region isn't really growing?
...

The Central Area is growing quickly, both in population and in jobs and is, in my opinion the area most in need of enhanced rail transit. Other areas in Chicago where expanded transit would be useful are also either growing or the enhancement would support the increased demand in the Central Area. The 1968 plan to link the West Loop, Streeterville, and the McCormick Place areas is exactly what we need today, and would not only improve things that currently exist, but support the projected additions of population and jobs projected for the areas.

Things like the Circle Line and a Kimball to Blue Line connection would support the edges of the area growing the fastest and link areas many people who work downtown live in getting to O'Hare for both leisure and business travel. Depending on how exactly it was implemented, it could greatly enhance popular areas for living and/or bolster areas for a non-downtown jobs area.

Quote:

Originally Posted by IrishIllini (Post 8753200)
I do love those at-grade crossings and I’d be bummed to see them go.

I was riding a Brown Line train that struck and killed a cyclist while crossing Kenzie in 2014. While quaint, I have zero love for at-grade crossings and firmly believe there should be plans to get rid of them, regardless of cost.

My preferred solution would be to run a line from Monroe and the Art Institute north, under St. Claire, west under Delaware, North under Clark to Diversey, then under Broadway to Wilson, then under Wilson to Kimball, then jog *south* to Montrose, west to Montrose Blue, with a transfer to the Blue Line and existing MD-N and a new UP-NW station. Then either terminate as a transfer station, or turn south parallel to Cicero to Six Corners (which is only 1/2 mile away from there), or continue west deep under Montrose work limited stops, probably at maybe Milwaukee but definitely Narraganset/Wilbur Wright College, Harlem (near the HIP), then popping up above ground for two stops in Rosemont, a stop at Terminal 5 and then either joining the Blue Line to terminate with it, or burrowing under the airport to serve western terminals for the new rebuild at O'Hare. Once the portion under Wilson to Kimball was done, the Brown Line North of Wilson could be demolished with a connection North of Montrose to the new subway section, or kept with a transfer station at Wilson and terminated at Western to eliminate at-grade crossings.

Second choice would be to simply add a subway under Lawrence west of Western to e Blue Line at Jefferson Park and remove the at-grade section altogether.

Quote:

Originally Posted by IrishIllini (Post 8753200)
...
I’d be curious to see a cost-benefit analysis between this and a Clinton-Larrabee subway that continues northwest under Clybourn to Belmont, northward under Western to Irving Park, and westward under Irving Park to the existing blue line before heading out to O’Hare. At the south end, maybe have it cut east down Monroe and terminate at the downtown superstation.

If we did that, I think going west under Belmont past the Blue Line and then as a deep subway with limited stops, almost an express, would be more useful. Belmont has a lot of commercial stuff along it and remains fairly dense.

Quote:

Originally Posted by IrishIllini (Post 8753200)
...
Other than being my baby :D, I feel this fills a lot of holes in our transit system on the north side. It’d get a subway tunnel beneath Western (future expansion potential) and frees up some capacity on the blue line by providing a bypass for the worst stretch of it. It connects the north side to the West Loop. Ogilvie and Union Stations are now connected to the North Branch. It also creates the environment necessary to put an end to the auto centric land uses along Clybourn, Elston, and Western. You have access to O’Hare through a North/Clybourn transfer or shorter bus ride west. Winning bigly!

Western is so lost that, if it's cheaper, I'd even be fine with elevated tracks over Western.

I kinda think a narrower Circle Line, with the east part of it being the Clinton subway, plus a new Lakefront Line from Hyde Park to Streeterville to Broadway to Wilson to the Blue Line would be best, plus adding a subway under Monroe between the IMD/UIUC and the Are Institute to link to the aforementioned new Lakefront Line. The Clinton Subway South of Roosevelt could jog West to Halsted to Pershing to my newly proposed Lakefront Line.

I recognize my preferred additions would likely cost on the order of $12-20 billion, but they'd solve most of the needs both now and for the next 50 or more years. And there are a few details to work out, but it mostly sticks to areas that are growing or already need more rail.

SIGSEGV Nov 20, 2019 5:05 AM

I think a few bus lanes and better Metra Service in the city (fare integrated, at least every 20 mins, and with infill stations) would go a long way to improving Chicago's connectivity. Some sort of circulator from Navy Pier to the train stations to McCormick would be good but could be done with bus lanes.

Handro Nov 20, 2019 5:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SIGSEGV (Post 8753545)
I think a few bus lanes and better Metra Service in the city (fare integrated, at least every 20 mins, and with infill stations) would go a long way to improving Chicago's connectivity. Some sort of circulator from Navy Pier to the train stations to McCormick would be good but could be done with bus lanes.

This is what I'm thinking. Barring a miracle, Chicago won't be laying any new heavy rail. But integrating Metra/CTA would do wonders for neighborhoods currently out of reach of reliable public transit. BRT is the other realistic albeit major component--a few east/wast and a few north/south routes would do wonders to connect the city (with connections at CTA rail and the aforementioned integrated metra stops.)

ardecila Nov 20, 2019 9:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emathias (Post 8753498)
The Central Area is growing quickly, both in population and in jobs and is, in my opinion the area most in need of enhanced rail transit. Other areas in Chicago where expanded transit would be useful are also either growing or the enhancement would support the increased demand in the Central Area. The 1968 plan to link the West Loop, Streeterville, and the McCormick Place areas is exactly what we need today, and would not only improve things that currently exist, but support the projected additions of population and jobs projected for the areas.

Things like the Circle Line and a Kimball to Blue Line connection would support the edges of the area growing the fastest and link areas many people who work downtown live in getting to O'Hare for both leisure and business travel. Depending on how exactly it was implemented, it could greatly enhance popular areas for living and/or bolster areas for a non-downtown jobs area.

I was answering a broader question about why Chicago-land is not pursuing transit expansion. Those US cities that are building transit are those that are growing rapidly, not just downtown but all over, to the point where transportation issues weigh on everybody severely. The growth of Chicago's Central Area is great, but it's more than canceled out by the exodus from other areas. Unfortunately, the Central Area cannot (by itself) fund and build billions of dollars in infrastructure, or the North Red Line would never have reached such an advanced state of decay. Finding the funding for that project alone required the cooperation of elected officials at every level from alderman up to US Senator, and the commitment just isn't there.

Other approaches to this problem have been highly controversial. One of the best arguments for TIF is that it has allowed for some new infrastructure to be built in growing, successful areas.... but many Chicagoans oppose this bitterly, because they see it as North Siders shirking their obligations to the long-troubled South and West Sides.

ardecila Nov 20, 2019 9:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Busy Bee (Post 8753016)
So glad you asked :D I've been thinking about this for years.

I think what you'd have to do to make an O'Hare (or at least transferable connection @JP Blue Line) extension work is the following:

If you do through-route Brown Line trains to O'Hare, I don't see how you can do that without affecting the capacity of the Blue Line. One of the best things about the Blue Line is that it runs independently of every other line. Interline the two, and you lose all the reliability.

Plus, there's a capacity issue. The peak headway on the Blue Line between Jeff Park and O'Hare is 3 minutes. Not sure there are even slots available for Brown Line trains at peak.

But even if you don't through-route, you still need a separate platform for Brown Line trains or you get all the same conflicts. I think you'd have to build a separate station for Brown Line trains, maybe in a deep cavern, and then build an track connection somewhere around Central Ave. Ideally the cavern station is as close as possible to the existing platform, not only for O'Hare bound passengers, but also for people transfering to NW Side bus lines. Maybe the cavern could be under the inbound Kennedy lanes, with exits to the bus terminal and the Blue Line platform?

Busy Bee Nov 20, 2019 11:05 PM

^

Interesting point. Admitedly I know much less about schedule and capacity conflicts in regards to a hypothetical O'Hare extension - I was thinking about it more in terms of jsut how the infrastructure could work. I would say it seems an obvious solution to a Blue Line capacity constraint would be to not run all trains to O'Hare, but instead continue to terminate many at Kimbell since the main Brown Line layover yard would continue to be there. Instead I think the Blue Line could easily accomodate say an outbound and inbound Brown Line train every 8-10 minutes during am/pm rush. The concept of outer reaches of lines having a lower frequency than down line, especially if interlining is present is not a foreign one though it does not currently exist in Chicago. So just to be clear, a hypothetical Brown Line extension would, for example see a far out station like Rosemont see 3 inbound Blue Line trains and 1 inbound Brown line train during a 10 minute period during peak hours.

Steely Dan Nov 20, 2019 11:13 PM

another argument in favor of a brown line extension out to the blue line is the fact that the census tracts that line that stretch of lawrence through albany park almost all the way out to the edens are in the 25,000 - 45,000 ppsm range.

it's some of the highest non-lakefront population density in the city. a handful of infill stations along the way would certainly get used, and might even eventually reverse some of the horrid '80s/'90s strip-malling of lawrence.



not that i'd expect anything like new rail transit infrastructure in chicago to happen during my lifetime. :(

Busy Bee Nov 20, 2019 11:25 PM

Totally agree about the density part. I'm slightly more hopeful about the possibility part, who knows what kind of dramatic reshifting of transport policies the future may hold on both local and national levels, especially vis a vis how they benefit environmental goals. I don't think a future in which green infrastructure (including new build clean mobility projects) are funded at an exponentially higher level is totally outside the realm of possibilty, especially if certain political parties either re-invent themselves or are permanantly put out to pasture. Remember all we're talking about in this specific case is a 1.5 mile subway extension, let's have a little more hope that's something the richest country on earth could manage to pull off, especially considering fucking China seems to be opening a new metro system every year.

ardecila Nov 20, 2019 11:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Busy Bee (Post 8754424)
^

Interesting point. Admitedly I know much less about schedule and capacity conflicts in regards to a hypothetical O'Hare extension - I was thinking about it more in terms of jsut how the infrastructure could work. I would say it seems an obvious solution to a Blue Line capacity constraint would be to not run all trains to O'Hare, but instead continue to terminate many at Kimbell since the main Brown Line layover yard would continue to be there. Instead I think the Blue Line could easily accomodate say an outbound and inbound Brown Line train every 8-10 minutes during am/pm rush. The concept of outer reaches of lines having a lower frequency than down line, especially if interlining is present is not a foreign one though it does not currently exist in Chicago. So just to be clear, a hypothetical Brown Line extension would, for example see a far out station like Rosemont see 3 inbound Blue Line trains and 1 inbound Brown line train during a 10 minute period during peak hours.

Let's assume 3 minute headways (20tph) is the maximum capacity of the outer section of the O'Hare branch. In theory, you can do 90-second headways (40tph) on a rapid transit line, but in practice this usually requires full automation and the elimination of any conflicts - this means no interlining, no flat junctions, and probably platform doors at every station to keep disruptions to a minimum. So 3 minute headways it is.

Right now, the Blue Line already operates close to this level. 3 minute headways are really not needed on the outer section, but it's definitely needed in Logan Square and Wicker Park. That means CTA needs to short-turn some Blue Line trains before they get to O'Hare - which they already do.

Unfortunately, the place where this is done currently is at a siding just north of Jefferson Park - so all Blue Line trains currently stop at JP whether they are short-turning or not. You could move the turnback track somewhere further south, but this isn't great for the many thousands of people who transfer to buses at JP. Basically, I don't think there's a way to squeeze Brown Line trains into the existing JP station without severely crimping the Blue Line - so a second JP station is needed for Brown Line trains. The existing station is also pretty pinned-in by the Kennedy and the enormous concrete viaduct carrying Milwaukee Ave and the UP-NW tracks above, so the best bet is to construct a new underground cavern where Brown Line trains can berth. The conflicts between the two lines can be more easily managed a little further north, where you can shift the Kennedy lanes outbound a bit to create a proper flying junction in the median that would allow for interlining or at least service moves between Blue and Brown.

I haven't really thought about the challenges at the other end around Kimball, but ideally it would eliminate the grade crossing at Kedzie.

Busy Bee Nov 21, 2019 12:23 AM

This could all very well be true. My first thought would be if, even as a loose concept, a Brown Line O'Hare extention seems like wishful thinking in our current impotent leadership and funding environment, the idea that if not just a pair of small diameter bored tunnels could somehow find their way into the Kennedy Blue Line median right-of-way, even while undeniably doable, seems mighty impressive --- the thought of a 600 foot long deep cavern station UNDER an active Kennedy Expressway seems like a goddamn moonshot.

ardecila Nov 21, 2019 1:02 AM

Anything else involves some pretty crappy compromises. One other thought I had is that you could put the subway cavern under Milwaukee, which would actually be very convenient for the bus transfer folks and JP residents, but would screw over any Brown Line riders going to O'Hare with a long convoluted walk. Maybe that's not a big deal if the Brown Line train continues directly to O'Hare. :shrug:

wwmiv Nov 21, 2019 1:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Handro (Post 8753946)
This is what I'm thinking. Barring a miracle, Chicago won't be laying any new heavy rail. But integrating Metra/CTA would do wonders for neighborhoods currently out of reach of reliable public transit. BRT is the other realistic albeit major component--a few east/wast and a few north/south routes would do wonders to connect the city (with connections at CTA rail and the aforementioned integrated metra stops.)

Electrifying select Metra lines within the city limits would require requiring transfers at the last electrified station to traditional Metra diesel trains. It would also require a unified fair structure (so that outbound Metra riders can make it to their proper transfer station after work). It would also require rerouting Metra tracks within the loop into a centralized new tunnel system (you cannot reroute into the blue and red tunnels unless you want to significantly disrupt those service headways) to distribute those new riders throughout the loop. You’d also need a new set of transfer stations with existing loop stations and with both the blue and red lines (without checking I would assume the rail gauges are different, too, between the two systems). This would decrease ridership tremendously on the remainder of the non-electrified stops that remain within the commuter Metra belt while increasing ridership within the city. Does the increase outweigh the decrease? Then you’ve gotta consider that the ridership decrease on the remaining Metra system is disproportionately going to move to their car and drive into the city for work every day, thus either making traffic worse in the city or having at best no net traffic effect at all. I’d say worse is more likely, if only because the people in the city who would have shifted their commutes to the new electrified rail would have disproportionately come from preexisting bus transit riders.

All of this is to say: you either electrify the whole system and consolidate their fair structures or you leave the dual system structure as it is while expanding each separately.


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