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  #15541  
Old Posted Nov 12, 2021, 3:49 PM
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Originally Posted by left of center View Post
Hrm. I assume CSX would not be willing to give up any space/trackage from its ROW in that section of 290 either.
I'm not sure. Chicago is the interface point between western railroads and eastern railroads, and the Altenheim Sub is what allows CSX to do the interchange without using somebody else's tracks and paying trackage fees to another Class I, or loading all the cargo into trucks just to go 10 miles. Specifically CSX picks up cars from CN/CP yards around O'Hare and takes them to their own yards on the South Side to be hauled to points east or the East Coast. I'm reluctant to encourage the abandonment of the Altenheim Sub if it means that cargo gets loaded onto trucks to go across town instead.

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Originally Posted by Busy Bee View Post
How awesome would a Congress Line extension to Mannheim Road at the Bellwood/Hillside border be? The Eisenhower has the row to widen to 8 lanes, even with accomidating westbound ramps, by shifting the centerpoont south easily creating an easement for a 2 track line west from the current Forest Park terminal tail tracks to Mannheim. The large open land on the west side of Mannheim could also hold a new yard and a sizable park/ride facility. Possible intermittent stations at 1st Ave and 25th Ave. Rush period trains could potentially run express on a 4-track row to and from Halsted to Austin drastically speeding service for western end riders.

Sure seems like this should be part of the conversation.
It is. The new section of Eisenhower through Maywood/Bellwood will be built for transit in the median. I'm not sure why they're not just doing a grassy median like other expressways built for future transit lines (Bishop Ford, I-57) but it is being future-proofed for a transit line regardless. The rendering shows buses but rail is also under consideration.



This isn't traditionally part of CTA's service area, so they'd have to be dragged kicking and screaming into it for a rail extension. Not sure what the prospects are for ridership, but it's a long slow journey into downtown or the IMD. A bus project would be worse though with the forced transfer.
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  #15542  
Old Posted Nov 12, 2021, 4:00 PM
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Originally Posted by SIGSEGV View Post
Maybe using the SSL track? The tracks are parallel by the Dunes I believe so could switch there?
I think a connection track is planned in Burns Harbor to allow Amtrak Michigan trains onto the South Shore? Not sure but I've heard this from some people. This would be a fairly slow route into Chicago because Amtrak would have to crawl behind SSL trains, but at least it would be predictable/reliable with way less potential for delays.

Otherwise the connection could use the former Michigan Central track, which diverges from the South Shore near 130th/Altgeld Gardens and runs through Burnham and Calumet City. This was contemplated as part of the big "South of the Lake" project that would carve out a dedicated passenger corridor between Chicago and the start of Amtrak's line in Porter.

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I also would like to remind everyone that the METRA electric district powers their EMU commuter trains with 1500 VDC, not several thousand volts AC that most HSR trains require.
Metra has considered replacing their DC system with 25kV AC but the low bridges on the lakefront north of Pershing make this difficult/expensive. In the context of an HSR buildout, the benefits of reusing a wide, fully grade-separated ROW built to very high standards though the city probably outweigh the costs of switching to AC. It is the Chicago equivalent of the Hell Gate Line in NYC and the natural entry for intercity trains. Or you could get dual-voltage trainsets with an onboard rectifier.
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Last edited by ardecila; Nov 12, 2021 at 4:12 PM.
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  #15543  
Old Posted Nov 12, 2021, 4:28 PM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
It is. The new section of Eisenhower through Maywood/Bellwood will be built for transit in the median. I'm not sure why they're not just doing a grassy median like other expressways built for future transit lines (Bishop Ford, I-57) but it is being future-proofed for a transit line regardless. The rendering shows buses but rail is also under consideration.



This isn't traditionally part of CTA's service area, so they'd have to be dragged kicking and screaming into it for a rail extension. Not sure what the prospects are for ridership, but it's a long slow journey into downtown or the IMD. A bus project would be worse though with the forced transfer.
Isn't this the median running rail that you have been railing against with me others promotion of a Bishop Ford Red extension?

With regards to a possible western Blue extension from Forest Park, what possible sense does it make to re-insert median running when the current Forest Park terminal and a clear r.o.w. path is right there on the north side of the highway r.o.w. all the way from Forest Park to Mannheim? The westbound ramps could be effectively engineered to allow a Blue line r.o.w. with more desirable east-west street station access instead of mid-bridge north-south station access. Ardecila, I respect you opinions and base of knowledge, but I'm going to need you to answer this.
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  #15544  
Old Posted Nov 12, 2021, 4:42 PM
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I don't think it makes a difference whether you're on the side of the expressway or in the middle. It sucks either way and undercuts the idea of community investment. The Blue Line is even worse because the Eisenhower corridor is heavily residential with almost no commercial or multifamily currently.

In the case of the Red Line, Roseland and West Pullman advocated for a Red Line route through the heart of their community along the UP tracks, and advocated against the Bishop Ford median. I think for Roseland residents the impact of an elevated CTA line is minor, considering the UP corridor already hosts an active and busy freight line.

In Maywood/Bellwood, there is a Prairie Path alignment nowhere near the expressway that would be ideal from a planning perspective, but nobody wants the L to run behind their house on what is currently a quiet peaceful path. The community came out strongly against that alignment.
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  #15545  
Old Posted Nov 12, 2021, 4:55 PM
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^ I'm not talking about a Prairie Path alignment. That was never uttered. I am talking about shifting the centerline of the Eisenhower slightly south from Mannheim Rd to Des Plaines, just enough to widen the existing north side shoulder and embankment to create a row for a line. I see no engineering reasons why this isn't totally obvious to planners versus swinging the trackway back into a median after Forest Park. Just look at the satellite map, it's begging for a row tucked along the north edge of the Ike. The tightest spot would be where the highways tightest point already is, passing through the cemeteries, but I think it could be done even with an 8-lane widening. An attractive stone wall or berm on the south may be in order to lighten the impact but its not rocket science. Some small property acquisition may be necessary in the industrial area between 1st and the river, but beyond that it looks like you could easily secure a 50' row with little problem. Westbound on and off ramps would be the biggest engineering challenge but I believe could be accomplished with an ounce of imagination. Oh IDOT how I wish you had an ounce of imagination...
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  #15546  
Old Posted Nov 12, 2021, 5:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Busy Bee View Post
^ I'm not talking about a Prairie Path alignment. That was never uttered. I am talking about shifting the centerline of the Eisenhower slightly south from Mannheim Rd to Des Plaines, just enough to widen the existing north side shoulder and embankment to create a row for a line. I see no engineering reasons why this isn't totally obvious to planners versus swinging the trackway back into a median after Forest Park. Just look at the satellite map, it's begging for a row tucked along the north edge of the Ike. The tightest spot would be where the highways tightest point already is, passing through the cemeteries, but I think it could be done even with an 8-lane widening. An attractive stone wall or berm on the south may be in order to lighten the impact but its not rocket science. Some small property acquisition may be necessary in the industrial area between 1st and the river, but beyond that it looks like you could easily secure a 50' row with little problem. Westbound on and off ramps would be the biggest engineering challenge but I believe could be accomplished with an ounce of imagination. Oh IDOT how I wish you had an ounce of imagination...
I personally don't think a side alignment is any better than a median anyway. People still don't want to live or shop next to a busy expressway, so your potential for development is almost zero.* In the 1960s, nobody cared because they assumed nobody would hang out near the station, they would transfer from a bus. That's still a consideration obviously but the number of people willing to do this has declined year after year. If you want people to ride your trains, you either need to put housing around the stations or park'n'ride lots. Obviously one of those is way better than the other...

However, if you have to build transit in an expressway ROW, then a median alignment is better simply because it puts more of the cost on the "highway side" of the ledger. Highway funds can be used for more of the advance work, so that the transit agency only has to lay down tracks and build stations. Under our current system, transit funds are a lot more limited and competitive than highway funds.



* = I will admit that other systems have better median stations than CTA, because they have more space available for landscape buffers, wider platforms, sound walls, etc and the pedestrian entrances don't require you to cross busy onramps. You can get on the DC Metro at East Falls Church and barely know you're in a highway median.
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  #15547  
Old Posted Nov 12, 2021, 5:26 PM
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Ardecila, you're not talking me out of it no matter how hard you try
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  #15548  
Old Posted Nov 12, 2021, 6:53 PM
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One other aspect of the Eisenhower project that's not talked about is that they will build a regional path through the corridor, basically extending the Illinois Prairie Path eastward to Columbus Park. And the city is now working to convert part of the CSX Altenheim Line to a trail through North Lawndale too. That's two huge chunks of a West Side "bike superhighway" that would get built and could eventually extend to downtown.
I'm very excited about this prospect, but I can't find any information about where the alignment would be. Though in reading the studies I saw that Oak Park was interested in exploring the possibility of capping sections of the highway. This would make any path exponentially more pleasant and useable. I've biked on frontage roads before. It's not pleasant considering all of the noise, smell and air pollution you're breathing while exercising.
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  #15549  
Old Posted Nov 12, 2021, 7:04 PM
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I'm very excited about this prospect, but I can't find any information about where the alignment would be. Though in reading the studies I saw that Oak Park was interested in exploring the possibility of capping sections of the highway. This would make any path exponentially more pleasant and useable. I've biked on frontage roads before. It's not pleasant considering all of the noise, smell and air pollution you're breathing while exercising.
Scroll to page 20 of this PDF: https://www.oak-park.us/sites/defaul...o%20Cicero.pdf

You'll see the trail start at Desplaines Ave and extend east to Columbus Park. Basically it is a widened sidewalk along Harrison/Flournoy Streets on the north side of the expressway.

Sound walls are planned along much of the length, and the path would run on the neighborhood side of the wall so that should cut down on the noise and other unpleasant aspects (not that a mile-long blank wall is much better). It's not reflected in the PDF but I think there's also a possibility for the trail to fly under Harlem and Austin so cyclists wouldn't have to cross those interchanges at grade.
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  #15550  
Old Posted Nov 12, 2021, 7:41 PM
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Blank sound walls don't have to be ugly. For every effort that is made to mimic fake stonework in concrete they could dramatically improve the aesthetics by designing with ivy growth in mind. IMO every sound wall should be covered in ivy or climbing flowering vines.
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  #15551  
Old Posted Nov 12, 2021, 9:44 PM
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Metra seems to be exploring proof-of-payment and fare integration with CTA and Pace with their new ticket machines. This, coupled with the recent frequency increases, would truly be transformational

Metra approves major ticket vending machine contract
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“These machines will allow Metra to meet a longstanding goal of eliminating cash sales of tickets onboard trains, and all the accounting hassles and safety issues that go with onboard cash sales,” said Metra Executive Director/CEO Jim Derwinski. “But they also will do much, much more, such as make tickets easier and more convenient to purchase, reduce person-to-person contact, speed up fare validation, reduce missed sales, reduce fare evasion, reduce printing costs, and allow for more flexible and promotional ticketing.”

“And, although other changes also would be needed, these vending machines can facilitate a best practices ‘proof of payment” fare system – in which a ticket is required to board a train, with fines for those found without a valid ticket – and fare integration with CTA and Pace.
https://metra.com/newsroom/metra-app...chine-contract
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  #15552  
Old Posted Nov 12, 2021, 11:23 PM
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Metra seems to be exploring proof-of-payment and fare integration with CTA and Pace with their new ticket machines. This, coupled with the recent frequency increases, would truly be transformational

Metra approves major ticket vending machine contract

https://metra.com/newsroom/metra-app...chine-contract
I've achieved fare integration by moving my ventra card to my phone and using ventra balance to purchase metra tickets on the App. It's... ok, but if my phone runs out of batteries I'm SOL.
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  #15553  
Old Posted Nov 13, 2021, 8:36 PM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
the Altenheim Sub is what allows CSX to do the interchange without using somebody else's tracks and paying trackage fees to another Class I, or loading all the cargo into trucks just to go 10 miles. Specifically CSX picks up cars from CN/CP yards around O'Hare and takes them to their own yards on the South Side to be hauled to points east or the East Coast.
Not on the Altenheim Sub, they don't. It's been out of service, if not technically abandoned, since roughly 2018. Many of the bridges and the retaining walls would need to be replaced for it to be used by rail traffic again.
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  #15554  
Old Posted Nov 15, 2021, 2:33 AM
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Not on the Altenheim Sub, they don't. It's been out of service, if not technically abandoned, since roughly 2018. Many of the bridges and the retaining walls would need to be replaced for it to be used by rail traffic again.
I thought the Altenheim Sub is still active west of the Belt junction? I see trains parked in the trench frequently and CSX has several active customers with sidings on that stretch as well. Maybe it's only local switching?

Also, I assume if the Altenheim was in any way "up for grabs" then IDOT would be grabbing it, but they're not so clearly CSX has a reason to hold onto it.
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Old Posted Nov 15, 2021, 3:58 PM
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Sorry; I thought you meant they were still taking trains through the West Side. Yes, I think it's still useable west of the Belt, but there are some capacity constraints:



David Wilson photo from 2004

I think about all that moves down there nowadays is sugar going to Ferrara Pan Candy. Of course, CSX will want to be paid the maximum possible by IDOT to give the line up, so they'll be characterizing it as the essential link tying together all North American rail operations.
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  #15556  
Old Posted Nov 15, 2021, 4:21 PM
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^So that's what happened to my scratch & dent Vizio...
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Old Posted Nov 15, 2021, 5:28 PM
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I think about all that moves down there nowadays is sugar going to Ferrara Pan Candy. Of course, CSX will want to be paid the maximum possible by IDOT to give the line up, so they'll be characterizing it as the essential link tying together all North American rail operations.
Yeah the city's been doing workshops to turn the Altenheim west of the Belt junction into a trail from California to Kostner. Interestingly it looks like only half the line would become a trail, and 2 trackways for rail would remain (not sure if this is a CSX requirement or if it's reserved for future transit). Between that, the new Eisenhower path, and the Illinois Prairie Path you could get a regional trail pretty deep into the city although there are a few tricky missing links there.

Rosen's Bread has an active siding too. Lemonheads and poppyseed buns!

I'm usually happy to see old rail corridors proposed for transit or trails, but every rail line we remove from the map is another set of businesses that have to turn to trucking to meet their needs. The railroads already unload a bunch of shipping containers and congest the expressways and local streets with thousands of drayage trucks, only to put the containers back onto trains at a different yard across town. CREATE will help this to some extent but there will still be plenty of "rubber tire interchange" after CREATE is finished.
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  #15558  
Old Posted Nov 15, 2021, 8:30 PM
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Sorry; I thought you meant they were still taking trains through the West Side. Yes, I think it's still useable west of the Belt, but there are some capacity constraints:



David Wilson photo from 2004

I think about all that moves down there nowadays is sugar going to Ferrara Pan Candy. Of course, CSX will want to be paid the maximum possible by IDOT to give the line up, so they'll be characterizing it as the essential link tying together all North American rail operations.
That image reminded me of the 60 Minutes segment last night explaining the current global supply chain shortages. It was mentioned how a lot of rail freight is currently trapped in Chicago train yards, and the rail owners are charging massive premiums even for containers that have no where else to go due to bottlenecks everywhere, and merchants who are waiting for goods all around the country are being gouged in fees alone (one guy who was interviewed is spending $1 million alone this year just in fees to have his stuff sit in a rail yard).

There was a lot of fascinating stuff in the segment:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7jSsyQKIfE
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  #15559  
Old Posted Nov 17, 2021, 6:41 PM
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I'm usually happy to see old rail corridors proposed for transit or trails, but every rail line we remove from the map is another set of businesses that have to turn to trucking to meet their needs. The railroads already unload a bunch of shipping containers and congest the expressways and local streets with thousands of drayage trucks, only to put the containers back onto trains at a different yard across town. CREATE will help this to some extent but there will still be plenty of "rubber tire interchange" after CREATE is finished.
Not only that, but once a rail line in a densely built urban environment like Chicago is removed, its gone forever. There's no way residents would allow the construction of any new freight lines in their backyards. While adaptive reuse as parks (ala the 606) are great, it would seem really prudent for the city/county/state to preserve as much remaining freight rail ROWs in the Chicago area as possible for the possibility of use in the years down the line.
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  #15560  
Old Posted Nov 17, 2021, 6:54 PM
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Not only that, but once a rail line in a densely built urban environment like Chicago is removed, its gone forever. There's no way residents would allow the construction of any new freight lines in their backyards. While adaptive reuse as parks (ala the 606) are great, it would seem really prudent for the city/county/state to preserve as much remaining freight rail ROWs in the Chicago area as possible for the possibility of use in the years down the line.
My post got deleted/relocated with the supply-chain stuff, but it looks like the section of the Altenheim Sub where a trail is proposed will also keep two trackways for rail. Not sure if this is for CSX to continue local freight service or if it's being banked for passenger service in the future. Or maybe this is one of those situations like the Carroll Ave line in River North where CSX will roll 2 freight cars down the tracks once a year so the government can't declare the line abandoned.

Either way this seems like a prudent decision. I've always thought the Altenheim Sub would be an ideal corridor for O'Hare Express if you can figure out where it would stop downtown.


https://www.chicago.gov/content/dam/...g_1_boards.pdf
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