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  #13441  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2017, 4:33 PM
orulz orulz is offline
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Originally Posted by ithakas View Post
The L tracks are Chicago's Eiffel Tower, and there's no sound more quintessentially urban than their grinding (perhaps a cacophony of cabs honking?). We should be looking at new ways to activate them, whether that be through projects like the Wabash Lights or the group trying to create a public space beneath the Wilson tracks.
Or maybe just painting them a better color and painting them more often.

I don't think anything drastic (tearing down the L, or replacing them with different types of structures) should be done but if there's something along the lines of more frequent maintenance of vehicles, or using different bogies for future vehicle orders, or using different materials for ties and/or plates, that would significantly reduce the noise, then I'm all for it.

I lived in Hiroshima, Japan for a year during college. They have a lot of streetcars, and also a lot of rivers - and therefore a lot of bridges. A streetcar trundled over a bridge right outside my apartment about every 5 minutes or so. For the first six months that I was there the sound was extremely loud. If you were on the bridge at same time as a streetcar, you could literally feel the bridge rumble. It was quite unnerving. As for the sound, I'd say the sound was pretty comparable to the L, perhaps a bit quieter than being right under a passing train. Then, they did something (not sure what) to the bridge, and for the second six months I was there, the streetcars weren't any louder on the bridge than they were on solid ground.
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  #13442  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2017, 5:09 PM
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Originally Posted by denizen467 View Post
I think there's disconnect here because "visitors" conjures up different images for different people. For visitors from Nashville, San Diego, Charlotte, etc., the el is probably nothing but cool. But some of us think of visitors from major Asian or other foreign cities, and if you've spent any time in, say, Asian cities in the past decade or two, you're going to come to a different conclusion. The more one romanticizes the aging blue collar low tech, the more distance you place in between the city and the cohort of the new century's leading world cities. As locals we love the el, in part because it's one of the couple of most unique defining characteristics of the city, including being a massive exclamation point that the city is not some post-airconditioning, automobile era young metro like LA or Dallas or Atlanta (or Jakarta). We wear the noise and steel like a badge. But it does remain persistently low tech, and if you're a 25 year old Singaporean female MBA or programmer deciding what city's train system you'll be commuting on every day, the low tech will not likely be attractive.
Um, if you're a "25 year old Singaporean female MBA or programmer", you're most likely driving a BMW or Audi to UofC or Northwestern, and NOT taking the L...because almost anyone I know that has come to a top-tier university for graduate studies from a place like that has the money to not have to 'bother' with public transportation. The 'Anecdotal evidence game' can be played by anyone, just sayin'..
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  #13443  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2017, 5:21 PM
emathias emathias is offline
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Originally Posted by sentinel View Post
Um, if you're a "25 year old Singaporean female MBA or programmer", you're most likely driving a BMW or Audi to UofC or Northwestern, and NOT taking the L...because almost anyone I know that has come to a top-tier university for graduate studies from a place like that has the money to not have to 'bother' with public transportation. The 'Anecdotal evidence game' can be played by anyone, just sayin'..
I'm pretty sure you misunderstand what me means by "MBA or programmer." He means a working professional, not a student. Even students who drove to class may convert to public transit for commuting to jobs if they work in the central Loop.
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  #13444  
Old Posted Jan 19, 2017, 6:19 PM
orulz orulz is offline
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I would say that the riveted steel structure of the L is iconic, historic, and objectively cool in much the same way as the Eiffel tower. Said hypothetical student from Singapore, doesn't expect or want Chicago to look like Singapore.

It is good for CTA to prioritize structural integrity if funding for maintenance is limited, but if they had resources to pay more attention to aesthetics, it would make a big difference in the overall impression of the system. The sections that are painted light colors really do just look grungy. With a bit more attention to upkeep and cleanliness of structures and stations, the L could maintain its distinctive character while simultaneously being a world-class transit system.
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  #13445  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2017, 12:38 AM
marothisu marothisu is offline
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Originally Posted by intrepidDesign View Post
Really? Can you show me proof that this is real? Because this reeks of BS.
Of course it's BS. Not that it's proof, but my anecdotes include tons of visitors (friends or friends of friends) from Europe and Asia that I've taken around Chicago. All of them saw at least the train going around in the Loop and was right near it for the noise. I can't remember one person complaining. All of them thought it was pretty cool. Even my rich ex girlfriend from Malaysia and her rich friends from Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia took the train around everywhere in Chicago when they lived in Chicago even though they didn't necessarily have to.
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  #13446  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2017, 12:48 AM
TimeAgain TimeAgain is offline
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Originally Posted by orulz View Post
I would say that the riveted steel structure of the L is iconic, historic, and objectively cool in much the same way as the Eiffel tower. Said hypothetical student from Singapore, doesn't expect or want Chicago to look like Singapore.

It is good for CTA to prioritize structural integrity if funding for maintenance is limited, but if they had resources to pay more attention to aesthetics, it would make a big difference in the overall impression of the system. The sections that are painted light colors really do just look grungy. With a bit more attention to upkeep and cleanliness of structures and stations, the L could maintain its distinctive character while simultaneously being a world-class transit system.
To be fair, they are upgrading a good number of stations.
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  #13447  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2017, 11:00 AM
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They need to make the L work better, first and foremost. It's too damn slow and the trains don't run frequently enough.
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  #13448  
Old Posted Jan 20, 2017, 4:57 PM
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I have no doubt in my mind there is an engineering solution to the extreme noise. Something like a steel/rubber/composite sandwich under the trackway, engineered dampening ties and doing everything possible to isolate vibrations from the steel structure.


As far as the color goes, I get why light colors are chosen. Its probably the same reason many people are timid of darker colors in there own homes, that is the incorrect belief that it will darken and "depress" the space, and that is probably the reasoning especially in the Loop, along with hiding salt spray. I don't think a darker structure paint color would significantly change the feeling of darkness that is a reality under the L. I think colors like this would look great:

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  #13449  
Old Posted Jan 21, 2017, 9:21 AM
denizen467 denizen467 is offline
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Originally Posted by sentinel View Post
Um, if you're a "25 year old Singaporean female MBA or programmer", you're most likely driving a BMW or Audi to UofC or Northwestern, and NOT taking the L...because almost anyone I know that has come to a top-tier university for graduate studies from a place like that has the money to not have to 'bother' with public transportation. The 'Anecdotal evidence game' can be played by anyone, just sayin'..
Your finest hour has been often, but maybe not this hour; first, you needn't be so fixated on wealthy Singapore; the comment is generic to people coming from even modest Asian backgrounds, and they're not all going to have cars, and they're not all attending the top 2 schools here. Second, on a forum that is so rabidly anti car and pro transit, I don't know why you would use a driving scenario as a default case when ordinarily we're demanding everybody, even visitors, use transit. Third, as emathias pointed out, I was referring to commuting to work downtown, not students still in a campus coccoon. Fourth, there was no anecdote, there is only the standards of safety and comfort and cleanliness that people in modern Asian cities are used to on their train systems (related comment below).
Quote:
Originally Posted by marothisu View Post
Of course it's BS. Not that it's proof, but my anecdotes include tons of visitors (friends or friends of friends) from Europe and Asia that I've taken around Chicago. All of them saw at least the train going around in the Loop and was right near it for the noise. I can't remember one person complaining. All of them thought it was pretty cool. Even my rich ex girlfriend from Malaysia and her rich friends from Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia took the train around everywhere in Chicago when they lived in Chicago even though they didn't necessarily have to.
Visitors are polite. Visitors tend to find many things novel and fun when they first encounter them -- especially if they're focused on the scenery for the first couple times. Visitors aren't going to complain to the person taking them around, especially if a friend. Visitors usually aren't considering staying long term to work. Finally, visitors who have already made it to Chicago have already self-selected themselves to some degree.


Earsplitting noise is one massive factor in reducing safety and perception of safety, and more so for a foreign visitor. It creates many situations where you can't call for help, even to the person next to you, and you can't explain a situation to an attendant, if you can get the attention of an attendant -- especially if in broken English. To say nothing of being stymied from making a call on a cellphone, whether that's for help or advice or just to confirm the location for an interview. The very notion that you can't reliably take a call from a client or make a call to your boss, without having to time it based on being in between stations or in between trains, is a step down from professional life in a city with a modern rail system. Keep in mind this isn't just during commuting - in most giant cities, businesspeople can be on the train several times during the day, to and from client meetings.
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  #13450  
Old Posted Jan 21, 2017, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
Rickety elevated trains exist in abundance in New York and in Philadelphia too.

But go figure it's Chicago forumers complaining about how it diminishes us, makes us seem so backward and parochial
You're assuming people in those cities aren't complaining. Many in the outer boroughs might be wearing the noise, or visual uniqueness, like a badge, as we do, but don't assume everybody would say no to a quieter system. Also, in, say, Philadelphia, is there as much density near the elevated for it to be an issue with many people. In any event in poor, outer neighborhoods they'll be preoccupied with bigger issues.

Conversely, in Manhattan, can you imagine an earsplitting elevated running through modern Wall Street or today's Upper East Side. Or if it did, whether the powers that be would just leave it that way forever. A new train line just opened up along Second Avenue this month. Its budget as a subway was stratospheric, and it would have been just a fraction of that if elevated. They did not make it elevated.
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  #13451  
Old Posted Jan 21, 2017, 2:29 PM
the urban politician the urban politician is offline
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^ I'm not proposing we build new elevated trains in the downtown area. I think it is assumed that any new heavy rail, if ever built downtown, would have to be subway.
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  #13452  
Old Posted Jan 21, 2017, 4:16 PM
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The Connector project would be nearly all elevated over the street.

It's interesting to see the conclusions big Southeast Asian cities have reached on the matter. For budget reasons, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Taipei began with elevated light metro lines. All have switched to underground full metros for their recent lines. Singapore's new lines are all being put underground, even in outer reaches of the island. Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Jakarta have heeded the lesson, and are going underground—despite shallow water tables—at least in their central areas.
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  #13453  
Old Posted Jan 21, 2017, 11:46 PM
chicagopcclcar1 chicagopcclcar1 is offline
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Originally Posted by Mr Downtown View Post
The Connector project would be nearly all elevated over the street.

[IMG][/IMG]

W. Lake Street between Pulaski and Cicero Aves.

Is your "Connector project" the CTA Circle Line? My interpretation of the CTA's Circle Line would call for using the State St. subway from Clybourn to Roosevelt, so that is not "nearly all elevated over the street." Plus, in Chicago, except on the downtown areas where the private owners give their permission and Lake St. west of Market St. (N. Wacker Dr.), illegally built.... the city's "L"s weren't built over streets. Chicago "L" are built on private lands. E. 63rd St. also received permission from property owners. Subways and expressway medians are city-owned.

Still out from plans is the stretch of the Circle Line from Lake and Paulina to Clybourn....elevated, subway, or whatever.

DH

Last edited by chicagopcclcar1; Jan 22, 2017 at 1:04 AM.
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  #13454  
Old Posted Jan 22, 2017, 3:42 AM
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Originally Posted by chicagopcclcar1 View Post
W. Lake Street between Pulaski and Cicero Aves.
Just sayin, the Lake St branch is not the best representation of elevated trains over the street. Having been all over the east coast for school, the Lake St branch is a real outlier when it comes to elevated trains. The only reason why Lake st looks like crap is because the street was never zoned for businesses, and instead has always been zoned for manufacturing. If that wasn't the case dense housing would have been built along much of he street, just like in Boston, Philadelphia, as well as Brooklyn and The Bronx, all areas that have active businesses underneath their elevated lines.

Also, the connector project kept referencing the London Docklands Light Railway as a model to follow instead of other heavy rail systems, so the connector system would end up looking more like this:
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  #13455  
Old Posted Jan 22, 2017, 4:28 AM
emathias emathias is offline
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Originally Posted by denizen467 View Post
...
Earsplitting noise is one massive factor in reducing safety and perception of safety, and more so for a foreign visitor. It creates many situations where you can't call for help, even to the person next to you, and you can't explain a situation to an attendant, if you can get the attention of an attendant -- especially if in broken English. ...
A former roommate of mine used to work in Midtown Manhattan and I'd call him sometimes during the day. Invariably, our conversation would be broken up by the sirens of emergency response vehicles - ambulances or fire trucks. Elevated lines aren't the only thing in urban environments that create enough noise to temporarily silence auditory communication.

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Originally Posted by Mr Downtown View Post
The Connector project would be nearly all elevated over the street.
...
I haven't seen anything that indicates that this has been actually decided. In fact the planning documents I have seen indicate that while elevated lines would be cheaper than subways, the total costs would not be so great as to force a decision for elevated lines. I personally think that given the docuements I've seen, if Chicago actually discovered a way to fund something along the lines of the Circulator or similar routes, that subways would make far more sense for a variety of pragmatic reasons even if they cost somewhat more.
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  #13456  
Old Posted Jan 23, 2017, 1:04 AM
IrishIllini IrishIllini is offline
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I personally love that you can hear the L. I lived directly across the street from the houses the L ran behind in my first apartment and I never heard it unless my window was open. Even then it was a quick woosh and then back to silence.
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  #13457  
Old Posted Jan 23, 2017, 2:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Randomguy34 View Post
Just sayin, the Lake St branch is not the best representation of elevated trains over the street. Having been all over the east coast for school, the Lake St branch is a real outlier when it comes to elevated trains. The only reason why Lake st looks like crap is because the street was never zoned for businesses, and instead has always been zoned for manufacturing. If that wasn't the case dense housing would have been built along much of he street, just like in Boston, Philadelphia, as well as Brooklyn and The Bronx, all areas that have active businesses underneath their elevated lines
Actually this isn't true. The industrial corridor along Lake took the place of a residential neighborhood. Lake Street was actually the city's original Main Street, and had lots of small scale development even when the surrounding areas were still undeveloped.

It was only after the L was built (around 1890) that property values started to drop, residents moved elsewhere and the old residential buildings were gradually bought up and replaced with low-slung warehouses. When the zoning ordinance was first created in the 50s, this process was already well underway and the ordinance only put this into law. Planners at that time assumed either the elevated line would get torn down, or that riders would transfer from buses, so they saw no need to concentrate housing around the stations.
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Last edited by ardecila; Jan 23, 2017 at 2:55 AM.
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  #13458  
Old Posted Jan 23, 2017, 5:06 PM
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With the future 7000-series cars, I wonder what will the line assignments be. Blue Line riders are probably hoping they don't get shorted again as they did with the 5000-series. While the base order of the 7000-series is to replace the 2600-series, I wonder if CTA will instead give the Blue Line some hand-me-down 5000-series cars from the Red, Purple, and Yellow Lines and make those lines all 7000-series. Note that there are plans to expand the Red Line, and since the requirement for the 7000s to be compatible with the 5000s was eliminated, this could indeed happen. Some of the 7000-series options are for fleet expansion and I believe these are for the Red Line extension (after the 3200-series replacement options for the Orange and Brown Lines).

The reason why the Blue Line didn't get 5000s was because the Red, Purple, and Yellow Lines share a yard (Howard Yard), and CTA wanted those three lines to have a common fleet, since occasionally trains assigned to one line may be substituted from one assigned to another (Purple Line occasionally borrows Red Line equipment, for example).

What I personally think should be done instead is to keep the 5000s on the Red, Purple, and Yellow Lines, but once all 7000s are delivered (if all options are exercised), give the Green and Pink Lines 7000s and use their 5000s to cover for the Red Line extension. The Green and Pink Lines should have about enough 5000s to cover for the Red Line extension, and just as CTA wants the Red, Purple, and Yellow to have a common fleet, the same is true for the Green and Pink, since those lines also sometimes borrow each other's equipment. So I think it would make sense to have the 5000s on the Red, Purple, and Yellow Lines, and the 7000s on the Blue, Orange, Brown, Green, and Pink Lines in the end.
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  #13459  
Old Posted Jan 23, 2017, 5:48 PM
emathias emathias is offline
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
Actually this isn't true. The industrial corridor along Lake took the place of a residential neighborhood. Lake Street was actually the city's original Main Street, and had lots of small scale development even when the surrounding areas were still undeveloped.

It was only after the L was built (around 1890) that property values started to drop, residents moved elsewhere and the old residential buildings were gradually bought up and replaced with low-slung warehouses. When the zoning ordinance was first created in the 50s, this process was already well underway and the ordinance only put this into law. Planners at that time assumed either the elevated line would get torn down, or that riders would transfer from buses, so they saw no need to concentrate housing around the stations.
The Blue Line subway has a short starter spur headed west under Lake Street. People definitely though it would be at least partially subway eventually.
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  #13460  
Old Posted Jan 23, 2017, 7:14 PM
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Originally Posted by denizen467 View Post
Conversely, in Manhattan, can you imagine an earsplitting elevated running through modern Wall Street or today's Upper East Side. Or if it did, whether the powers that be would just leave it that way forever. A new train line just opened up along Second Avenue this month. Its budget as a subway was stratospheric, and it would have been just a fraction of that if elevated. They did not make it elevated.
The Second Avenue Subway is replacing an El that was torn down 80 years ago.
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