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  #15621  
Old Posted Nov 29, 2021, 1:34 AM
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I'm all for the Red Line Extension (really, any expansion in rail access is a win in my book), but I do think there are other projects that may (or may not, this is my opinion after all!) be more deserving of scarce transit funding. The circle line would be my top priority if I had any pull with the RTA. We have pretty extensive rail infrastructure in this city, but its very much hub and spoke; if I want to transfer onto other lines, I either need to go downtown or take a bus. The Circle Line adds maybe a few miles of additional rail, but makes connections so much more seamless that it adds value to every single existing CTA line simply by making every line more accessible to one another. The potential Metra tie-ins is icing on the cake.


Source: chicago-l.org

That said, I think Metra and the CTA (and to a lesser extent, Pace) need to stop competing and start working together. Combined, they have a much louder voice than they do now fighting amongst themselves. The RTA needs to simply be given total control of finances and leadership, and each of the existing agencies simply become an arm of a much bigger transit authority. The chances of that happening however are pretty low.
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  #15622  
Old Posted Nov 29, 2021, 2:03 AM
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Originally Posted by left of center View Post
That said, I think Metra and the CTA (and to a lesser extent, Pace) need to stop competing and start working together. Combined, they have a much louder voice than they do now fighting amongst themselves. The RTA needs to simply be given total control of finances and leadership, and each of the existing agencies simply become an arm of a much bigger transit authority. The chances of that happening however are pretty low.
Yes, they should be merged into a single transit authority, like the MBTA. It's stupid to have the ME actively competing with the 2/6/26/28/J14, for example, when they should be cooperating.
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  #15623  
Old Posted Nov 29, 2021, 2:07 PM
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Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
Yes we do. We just invest it in things that a LOT of taxpayers actually use (roads), as opposed to things that most people don’t use (trains)

And due to this perpetual overreaction to Covid, that is now a permanent state of affairs.

How often do you personally ride the L? You live in Chicago.

That’s an expensive as hell system to maintain, and only makes sense when a massive number of people ride it a LOT. CTA trains are half empty. Meanwhile roads everywhere are congested
So we now assume that the current lack of congestion on the trains is going to last forever because everyone's scared to ride the trains? Are you insane? Seriously, are you nuts? Ridership will come back, and frankly already has in many areas. Sure, ridership is down right now, has been since COVID started, but that will certainly change. I'm not against major road improvements either, as long as they're targeted in specific areas (ie: Eisenhower in the 4 lane to 3 lane choke point region, that kind of thing.)

I ride the buses a LOT. I ride the train less as I'm not going to the downtown core too often at the moment, but that will change. I'm glad to know the buses are being replaced with new stock as well.

Anyhow, I'm honestly done with this thread. Everyone seems to have their hearts set on a number of improvements that are either completely unfunded, haven't even begun their environmental/planning studies or are just pipe dreams, all while shitting all over improvements that ARE being made.

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  #15624  
Old Posted Nov 29, 2021, 2:13 PM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
^ What comes first, though? Why should we trust those same transit agencies with even more tax dollars, when they can't even work together to better use the resources they already have?

I have no faith that pumping a bunch of cash into the existing system will lead to better outcomes. Maybe we get a few flashy new projects that benefit small areas of the city, but the overall transit system in Chicagoland will still be status quo.

For what it's worth, Preckwinkle's pilot program to lower Metra Electric fares was awesome and a breath of fresh air. I had zero faith in Preckwinkle as a leader when she ran for mayor, but she deserves a lot of credit for pushing this pilot. Lightfoot, on the other hand, deserves plenty of scorn for letting her personal feud with Preckwinkle stand in the way of what's best for South Siders (and south suburban residents).



The great thing about Metra Electric is that it already exists. Metra could start running frequent trains tomorrow and start accepting CTA bus transfers. No environmental work or community meetings needed. It would just require them to readjust their priorities. Yes, long term they need to rebuild stations for accessibility and add some infill stations, but we're not talking about a megaproject here. It's an incremental upgrade that starts with service changes only.
I'm absolutely in agreement that Metra and CTA need to stop butting heads and actually work together on the best way to move forward, which is most definitely fare integration! Metra Electric and SSL both can be much more frequent very quickly, perhaps with some signaling and electrical upgrades if necessary.

Lightfoot and Preckwinkle DO need to work together. Simple as that.

To whoever commented about L.A.'s massive investment in roads, I wonder if they have seen the massive transit investment they've made in the last 20 years? L.A.'s transit system is already quite large and is becoming ever-larger, it's actually quite remarkable! But that took several votes by the electorate to make it happen. Several sales tax increases solely for transit improvements/expansions. I doubt Chicagoans have the appetite for this, unfortunately.

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  #15625  
Old Posted Nov 29, 2021, 3:18 PM
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I'm in favor of replacing the Gas Tax with a Mileage Tax which would be more fair in applying the true expense of our road network to the users. Isn't that the height of libertarian thought? Obviously shippers and heavy commercial users have a different rate than smaller vehicles based on GVW.

It would have an interesting side effect of testing vehicle owners on their self reporting of mileage use for business to the IRS. Right now their is a HUGE incentive to report a high number for business mileage. 60 cents a mile. So 100K miles nets $60,000 tax deduction for business use of vehicle/s, This includes Fuel used (basically a rebate on gas consumption), maintenance and vehicle depreciation.

Business and individuals that claim the mileage deduction are getting reimbursed on their fuel tax! A mileage tax would appropriate a fair tax on the largest users of the road network and would be self reported to the same degree that the vehicle mileage use is used. Line 17: what is your vehicle mileage for business? Ok here is your deduction for depreciation and here is your road use tax.

Alternately it could easily be verified through the now ubiquitous application of vehicle GPS systems.
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  #15626  
Old Posted Nov 29, 2021, 3:34 PM
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Originally Posted by glowrock View Post
So we now assume that the current lack of congestion on the trains is going to last forever because everyone's scared to ride the trains? Are you insane? Seriously, are you nuts? Ridership will come back, and frankly already has in many areas. Sure, ridership is down right now, has been since COVID started, but that will certainly change. I'm not against major road improvements either, as long as they're targeted in specific areas (ie: Eisenhower in the 4 lane to 3 lane choke point region, that kind of thing.)

I ride the buses a LOT. I ride the train less as I'm not going to the downtown core too often at the moment, but that will change. I'm glad to know the buses are being replaced with new stock as well.

Anyhow, I'm honestly done with this thread. Everyone seems to have their hearts set on a number of improvements that are either completely unfunded, haven't even begun their environmental/planning studies or are just pipe dreams, all while shitting all over improvements that ARE being made.

Aaron (Glowrock)
Not sure why you always have to get so worked up all of the time, but yes of course I am serious. Facts matter.

Ridership is WAY down, nobody in leadership is willing to confront the realities of accepting COVID as endemic (if they did, maybe more people would wake up and be willing to ride the trains more), and WFH is essentially a semi-permanent state of affairs, if not permanent altogether.

Improvements in the internet is an infrastructure investment, a HUGE one, that is making rail transit somewhat obsolete. Technology tends to do that. People will still ride trains, but far fewer people will be doing it than pre-COVID. I don't think daily CTA rail ridership will ever again reach where it was prior to 2020.
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  #15627  
Old Posted Nov 29, 2021, 7:58 PM
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Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
Not sure why you always have to get so worked up all of the time, but yes of course I am serious. Facts matter.

Ridership is WAY down, nobody in leadership is willing to confront the realities of accepting COVID as endemic (if they did, maybe more people would wake up and be willing to ride the trains more), and WFH is essentially a semi-permanent state of affairs, if not permanent altogether.

Improvements in the internet is an infrastructure investment, a HUGE one, that is making rail transit somewhat obsolete. Technology tends to do that. People will still ride trains, but far fewer people will be doing it than pre-COVID. I don't think daily CTA rail ridership will ever again reach where it was prior to 2020.

The flu is also endemic. The thing is, no one freaks out about it because it has been around all our lives. Covid (which is also a flu) is new and people are afraid of the unknown. In 5 years, they will be much less afraid. In 10 years it will be a total afterthought unless you are immunocompromised or elderly and need to take safety precautions (as such people do now for the regular flu variants). In 30 years you will have adults that have never known a world without Covid, and will not be deterred in taking trains, buses or planes because of it. Transit will come back, and my guess is it may even reach 2019 levels before 2025.

WFH will remain, but people will still want/need to move about the city. Lets not forget that the vast majority of jobs cannot be done at home. Transit will always be needed, because if everyone in Chicago started driving cars it would turn every thoroughfare into a jammed parking lot. There literally isn't enough room to park all the cars if every adult in the city decided to own one.

Defunding transit would be incredibly short sited, especially since we need to build now for higher commuter volumes in the future. New capacity does not come online right away. It would be as silly as stopping the O'Hare Modernization Project in 2009 because airline customer volume collapsed in the wake of the Great Recession.
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  #15628  
Old Posted Nov 29, 2021, 8:13 PM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
^ Why should we trust those same transit agencies with even more tax dollars, when they can't even work together to better use the resources they already have?

I have no faith that pumping a bunch of cash into the existing system will lead to better outcomes. Maybe we get a few flashy new projects that benefit small areas of the city, but the overall transit system in Chicagoland will still be status quo.
Two answers to your question as to why Chicago should spend more money on mass transit:

1. Chicago has one of the most efficient mass transit systems in the country.
Here are measures of operating expense per passenger mile for the top six bus systems and top six rail systems in the country. Systems with the lowest operating expense per passenger mile are the most efficient. Chicago is first in rail operating efficiency and third in bus. These numbers come from a report prepared by The Civic Federation dated Nov 1, 2018.

BUS		
LA $0.84
Philly $1.07
Chicago $1.26
Boston $1.38
DC $1.48
NYC $1.79

RAIL
Chicago $0.41
Philly $0.44
Atlanta $0.47
NYC $0.50
Boston $0.58
DC $0.68

One thing that jumps out is the fact that bus operating expenses are about three times higher than rail operating expenses; a major reason to invest more in rail.


2. Investments in mass transit support greater urban density, higher economic growth, more employment, higher wage increases and higher property values.
The attached blog explains and quantifies these benefits: "Why Does Everyone Want Public Transit To Pay For Itself?"
Furthermore, the mass transit investments that produce the greatest benefits are rail investments, particularly rail investments in large cities with existing transit networks.
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  #15629  
Old Posted Nov 29, 2021, 8:25 PM
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Why Chicago officials like their chances to win major grants in $1 trillion infrastructure bill
Source: https://www.chicagotribune.com/polit...ueq-story.html

Quote:
The $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that President Joe Biden signed into law earlier this month promises to send billions of dollars to Illinois, with much of that money flowing to Chicago-area roads, bridges, transit agencies and airports through transportation funding formulas.

But if some of Chicago’s most ambitious public works projects are going to get built, the city will have to win additional competitive grants that are funded in the legislation. That includes money for replacing toxic lead water lines, converting the city’s bus fleet from diesel to electric, making “L” stations accessible to those with disabilities and extending the Red Line south to 130th Street.

...

Illinois is expected to receive at least $17 billion from the infrastructure bill, a number that is likely to balloon once the grants get doled out. Senior Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin lauded the historic size of the legislation, noting that Congress used to pass smaller federal infrastructure bills on a more regular basis.

...

Durbin and Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker both have said Illinois is better positioned than most states to spend the money quickly — especially on roads and bridges.

That’s because the influx in federal funding will accelerate portions of Pritzker’s “Rebuild Illinois,” an ongoing six-year, $45 billion program to repair and upgrade roads, bridges, university buildings, state facilities and other infrastructure. That, in turn, will free up state money previously set aside for the state’s program to fund other projects in Illinois’ lengthy backlog of infrastructure projects.

The federal infrastructure legislation sets aside $89 billion in federal transit formula funding, the largest federal investment in transit in U.S. history. Illinois’ cut of that money is $4 billion.

...


The CTA president also said he will seek grant funding to overhaul the west end of the Blue Line from the Loop to Forest Park, a project that also would allow the agency to add more trains on the line and increase capacity on the northern stretch to O’Hare, where train cars are often crammed.

But the project topping Carter’s list is the one that is furthest along in the planning stages: the long-discussed 5.3-mile extension of the Red Line south from its current terminus at 95th Street to 130th Street, adding four new stations.

...

During his July visit, Buttigieg also toured a CSX rail yard in southwest suburban Bedford Park to draw attention to the CREATE rail program, which began in 2003 to ease freight train congestion, reduce commuter train travel times and improve rail crossing safety by eliminating freight grade crossings. One in four U.S. freight trains pass through Chicago, about 500 per day, in addition to some 800 passenger and commuter trains.

...

Local officials are expected to aggressively push to fund one CREATE initiative in particular, the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project that spans Chicago’s Ashburn, Englewood, Auburn Gresham and West Chatham neighborhoods.

Two other CREATE projects pushed by U.S. Rep. Marie Newman and others involve separating the grades between the Belt Railway of Chicago at Archer Avenue and near the intersection of 63rd Street and Harlem Avenue.

To fund CREATE projects in the Chicago region and a rail improvement project in Springfield, state officials will seek to apply for the $16 billion in competitive rail grants allowed under the infrastructure bill, part of $66 billion in the legislation for modernizing, expanding and improving passenger and freight rail.

The infrastructure bill also sets aside $5 billion in grants for new low emission buses, and Carter said the CTA would aggressively pursue that money as part of an effort to make its entire 1,800 bus fleet fully electric by the year 2030. To date, the city has eight of the $900,000 electric buses, with another 20 on order and a contract to buy another 30 or 40, Carter said.

...

The infrastructure bill also includes $55 billion for water infrastructure improvements, with $1.7 billion expected for Illinois. The grants for lead pipe replacement would be tied to an additional $15 billion pool of money.
I really dig that a lot of this money is going to CREATE projects with rail/street grade separation projects and beefing up freight rail bottlenecks, like along 75th St where 6 freight lines turn into 2 for a mile segment, causing frequent backups for both freight and passenger trains. Allowing freight to move through the city at a faster pace will entice the big rail operators to invest more in the metro area instead of trying to bypass us via alternate freight hubs such as Kansas City, etc.
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  #15630  
Old Posted Nov 29, 2021, 9:59 PM
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There's no question the RLE is not the absolute highest and best use of scarce transit funds. and if Metra and the CTA weren't so fucking provincial and exclusively self-interested, there are certainly more cost effective solutions to bring better/more frequent rail transit service to the numerous citizens of far Southside (more than 200,000 Chicagoans live south of 95th, that's hardly "no one").
I am of the opinion that is rare on this thread that given the amount of upgrades that are needed to most of the stations along the Metra Electric to just provide that service I look at the Red Line extension as a needed investment that will benefit the bus and rail network that will help eventually provide the needed modernization upgrades to the Metra Electric branches.

It's easy to say, just run more trains and that will bump up ridership however one thing that is missing from these conversations is a real audit of the state of the Metra Electric stations. Most of these local stations (except for the McCormick Place, Hyde Park, Kensington and South Chicago line branch stations) need some desperate repair and modernization for visibility and accessibility that will cost a hell of a lot more than $2.5B on top of which the Metra Electric is isolated from the rest of the L' network which I believe needs a hard look at as an apples to apples comparison. This is probably why there's been talks about studies but then no studies actually get done.

In my most recent trip to Chicago to visit family I rode on the Jeffrey Jump and other South Shore Express bus services and what they provide better than Metra is not just increased frequency but direct access to the jobs on the West Loop and connections with the rest of the L network. The bus lanes on Washington and Madison that has helped improve speed and frequency of connections that has been a game changer on how passengers use it through the Loop.

If CTA/Metra/RTA needs to be less parochial then a vision of Metra Modernization needs to be in the forefront with a bold project such as converting the Metra Electric, Metro North Central and other services into a faster RER style vision from South Chicago/Pullman via Museum Campus, South Loop, Union Station/West Loop to NW Side and O'Hare. Or do one better rethink Circle Line as part of this Metra Electric modernization.

I have seen some ideas on this here but I really feel that this is missing from the conversation. Its thought of piecemeal rather than presenting the larger regional vision that this is why the RLE is looked as a path of least resistance because there is already an existing network that will benefit from the infrastructure.
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  #15631  
Old Posted Nov 29, 2021, 10:18 PM
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Originally Posted by left of center View Post
WFH will remain, but people will still want/need to move about the city. Lets not forget that the vast majority of jobs cannot be done at home. Transit will always be needed, because if everyone in Chicago started driving cars it would turn every thoroughfare into a jammed parking lot. There literally isn't enough room to park all the cars if every adult in the city decided to own one.

Defunding transit would be incredibly short sited, especially since we need to build now for higher commuter volumes in the future. New capacity does not come online right away. It would be as silly as stopping the O'Hare Modernization Project in 2009 because airline customer volume collapsed in the wake of the Great Recession.
^ I don't favor cutting funds to transit, I just don't believe that expanding the rail system makes any sense. Like I said, an infill station or two could be justified, but otherwise no way. Not enough ridership, not practical enough, not well connected enough. Addressing land use and connectivity are FAR more important than adding a few extra miles of track down into a far flung area of the city at the cost of billions.
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  #15632  
Old Posted Nov 30, 2021, 2:55 AM
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Not sure why you always have to get so worked up all of the time, but yes of course I am serious. Facts matter.

Ridership is WAY down, nobody in leadership is willing to confront the realities of accepting COVID as endemic (if they did, maybe more people would wake up and be willing to ride the trains more), and WFH is essentially a semi-permanent state of affairs, if not permanent altogether.

Improvements in the internet is an infrastructure investment, a HUGE one, that is making rail transit somewhat obsolete. Technology tends to do that. People will still ride trains, but far fewer people will be doing it than pre-COVID. I don't think daily CTA rail ridership will ever again reach where it was prior to 2020.
WFH is most certainly not as permanent as you seem to think. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. of my professional friends has been forced to phase back into working full time in the office in the last month. Some only have to come in 3 days a week until the new year when it will become 5, but many are already having to do so. Plenty of the largest employers have announced that they are going to require workers to come back into the office. Omicron fear might slow that down a bot, but almost certainly not permanently.
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  #15633  
Old Posted Dec 1, 2021, 5:45 PM
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I'm not against major road improvements either, as long as they're targeted in specific areas (ie: Eisenhower in the 4 lane to 3 lane choke point region, that kind of thing.)
On balance I'm in favor of the Eisenhower project because of the CTA rebuild, the regional bike trail, the potential for a much better pedestrian experience around the rebuilt overpasses, and the "rough-in" for a future CTA extension.

However, the danger with this kind of thinking is induced demand. Many of the folks who take Metra or CTA right now because the Eisenhower is so congested will switch back to driving once the highway is widened. And with higher traffic volumes getting pumped through, then other sections of the expressway system become the new bottleneck. And so on and so forth forever. I guarantee the day the Eisenhower project is finished is the day IDOT will start looking at widening the Stevenson and the Kennedy.

Lake Shore Drive could be a good model here if they select the bus lane option - the rebuilt highway would actually be narrower than before (6 lanes instead of 8), but with a vastly increased transit capacity and a ton of additional park space built around the new highway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TR Devlin View Post
Two answers to your question as to why Chicago should spend more money on mass transit:

1. Chicago has one of the most efficient mass transit systems in the country.

2. Investments in mass transit support greater urban density, higher economic growth, more employment, higher wage increases and higher property values.
CTA should be commended for operating its system in a cost-effective manner. This is mostly about the history of CTA and the TWU, and the fact that the CTA successfully fought off wasteful work rules. Other transit systems have done this as well, but Chicago is the only place where labor costs are reasonable AND ridership is strong so it makes the cost per passenger-mile very favorable.

I'm not convinced that the kind of transit investments we make in US cities really do support the economy the way you suggest. That's certainly a possible outcome, but US cities go about it all wrong. CTA will spend huge amounts of money to extend the Red Line through Roseland and West Pullman. There is very little planning from the city about how the neighborhood should develop around the new L stations, and CTA is even squandering the best development sites on park-and-ride lots.

We don't have to imagine what this looks like, just ride the Orange Line and look at the area around any of the stations (especially Pulaski or 35th). CTA airdropped stations into neighborhoods that did not grow up around rapid transit, and the city did nothing to foster redevelopment in those areas. The stations are huge and hostile to pedestrians, since they prioritize bus transfers and park/rides only. The surrounding neighborhoods are low density and suburban. Thank god there was at least a major airport at one end. Now the city and CTA is poised to repeat all the same mistakes.
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Last edited by ardecila; Dec 1, 2021 at 6:20 PM.
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  #15634  
Old Posted Dec 2, 2021, 6:18 PM
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On balance I'm in favor of the Eisenhower project because of the CTA rebuild, the regional bike trail, the potential for a much better pedestrian experience around the rebuilt overpasses, and the "rough-in" for a future CTA extension.

However, the danger with this kind of thinking is induced demand. Many of the folks who take Metra or CTA right now because the Eisenhower is so congested will switch back to driving once the highway is widened. And with higher traffic volumes getting pumped through, then other sections of the expressway system become the new bottleneck. And so on and so forth forever. I guarantee the day the Eisenhower project is finished is the day IDOT will start looking at widening the Stevenson and the Kennedy.

Lake Shore Drive could be a good model here if they select the bus lane option - the rebuilt highway would actually be narrower than before (6 lanes instead of 8), but with a vastly increased transit capacity and a ton of additional park space built around the new highway.
What are the details with regional bike trail in the Eisenhower project?

I'm with you and probably most on here against full lane expansion to the major highways because of induced demand. However from what I understand with this project, this would only be adding a lane from the section of highway that has just 3 lanes, thereby changing what goes from 4-3-4 from 88/294 to Congress to 4 throughout. The backups at the 290/88/294 merger will likely always be troublesome, even with the other IDOT project building new ramps. But many of the bottlenecks arise from the 4 to 3 lane reduction further down at Harlem, and the left side entrance/exits at Harlem as well as Austin. Traffic is still going to be at max capacity during peak hours, but the flow would be improved without such a drastic queueing effect from thousands of late merging drivers per hour. I don't think *moderate* improvements of Eisenhower traffic will drastically encourage more driving. But I think it could have other economic benefits. Improved CTA speed and reliability of the Forest Park branch would do more to increase ridership more than lane expansion would decrease CTA ridership, if that makes sense.

I'm for the project just in the sense that it should benefit transit users along the Forest Park branch. If pedestrians and buses can more safely access Blue Line stops that's a win, especially when the neighborhoods that depend on the CTA here tend to be lower income. At the same time, I would hope greenlighting this project as a #1 priority would not completely ignore other transit projects of need. But I'm tracking the Red Line extension as the only other big dollar project.

And speaking of Harlem and Austin, does anyone know if the proposed interchange project there would be part of this larger Eisenhower project?- https://www.chicagotribune.com/subur...714-story.html

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  #15635  
Old Posted Dec 2, 2021, 7:35 PM
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^This would be a relief if completed. . . the lane constrictions are the majority of the problems on the Ike (both inbound and outbound). . . on my commute from the Loop to Oakbrook Terrace in the mornings I usually exit the Ike at Central and take Roosevelt Road the rest of the way while my evening commute back in I take Roosevelt to Austin. . . it's 20 miles and takes a solid hour. . .

. . .
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  #15636  
Old Posted Dec 2, 2021, 7:47 PM
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So the new lane through the bottleneck section will be a managed lane - some or all users will pay a toll to use the new lane during rush hours and other busy periods. They will also convert one existing lane between Austin and Racine to a managed lane, so virtually the whole Eisenhower from Mannheim to the Loop will have 3 free lanes at all times plus the managed lane. I don't think they've decided on the operating rules for the managed lane yet, but it will be some combination of tolling and carpool/HOV restrictions. This will also limit how much extra traffic results from the expansion project, so that's a good thing.

Yes, the project will include the funky new interchanges at Harlem/Austin shown in that rendering.

The regional trail will be continuous from Desplaines to Austin where it will connect to existing paths in Columbus Park. It will run along the north side of the expressway trench, you can see it in that rendering. It will be mostly a street-level trail, but at the sidewalk level so better than an on-street bike lane. Kinda similar to the path that the city built on Roosevelt at Wabash. The trail might fly under the interchanges at Harlem and Austin, but I've seen it shown with an crosswalk across Harlem and Austin in some documents.

Not shown in that rendering are a series of sound walls that were requested by the community. Federal regulations now require sound walls along new or expanded highways in denser areas unless the community declines. Hopefully they are nicer than the god-awful sound walls that IDOT put in through Norwood/Oriole Park.
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  #15637  
Old Posted Dec 2, 2021, 9:41 PM
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^ is this the official plan? This managed lane stuff is CRAP.
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  #15638  
Old Posted Dec 2, 2021, 10:40 PM
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I remember seeing renderings for the proposed new interchanges for Harlem and Austin. I am sure they will redo those exchanges with the lane widening of 290, since the state and IDOT have long sought to remove the left hand exits there. They are dangerous and very tight spaces, which makes it hell with all the trucks trying to get on and off at those ramps. Too many times I've seen semis get stuck at those intersections and block traffic in all directions.

As for the managed lanes, I think it may be a good idea. Either HOV or tolled single use (why not both?) would work. It would generate revenue for IDOT, and should be fairly easy to implement. If they used I-Pass transponders, with cameras/sensors along the entire route, a car can switch into the lane, switch out at any time, and simply be billed for the miles/distance it traveled in that lane. I think all highways that get widened in the future should have this model, for a few reasons:

1. We've been talking about induced demand in this thread. This will help curb that. Adding a lane or two to a highway wont mean everyone will switch to driving as opposed to taking the CTA/Metra if it means they will have to pay for it as well.

2. Since people will always prefer the free lanes, this means you will always have a lane that is less congested than the others, allowing easier access for emergency vehicles.


This would be a good idea for the Kennedy as well, due to all the O'Hare business traveler traffic. I-90 desperately needs to be expanded to 4 lanes as it is, and creating it as a managed lane will allow the cost of construction and future maintenance to pay for itself.
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  #15639  
Old Posted Dec 3, 2021, 3:57 PM
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The managed lane on the Eisenhower will very much NOT pay for itself according to projections. One lane doesn't bring in much revenue unless you raise the prices to astronomical levels (which just invite political blowback). I think it's still a good policy regardless.

The tolls won't make a dent in the full Eisenhower project which is a total rebuild of everything through a densely built-up area. However, a similar project on I-55 might pay for itself because IDOT already future-proofed for a 4th lane back in the early 2000s. There were discussions under Rauner to bring in a private operator to build/operate those I-55 lanes but that conversation died off awhile back.
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Old Posted Dec 3, 2021, 8:37 PM
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I recall there being a lot of backlash from the public that the 2000s rebuild of 55 was not done with 4 lanes at the time. I also recall the toll lane discussions under Rauner, but of course like almost everything else under his term, it fizzled.

I assume the futureproofing is the grassy median in the middle of 55 through the city (between Harlem and Halsted), which appears to have enough room for an additional lane in each direction. East of Halsted, I assume the shoulder will be getting the axe? Or perhaps the 4 lanes will end after the 90/94 spaghetti bowl. There's not a lot of room under those bridges east of that interchange, like Canal/UP railyard, Wentworth, State, etc. It's probably not absolutely necessary to make it 4 lanes to LSD anyway.

I have noticed that when IDOT rebuilt the 1st Ave. interchange over 55 a few years back, they widened the bridge itself to easily accommodate new lanes, so it appears expansion still something that the state is still planning. If its done, I wonder how far out of city limits the 4 lanes would go for. They can probably easily do it up to 294/Mannheim. After that, you are talking about a lot of interchange rebuilding.
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