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  #4601  
Old Posted Feb 26, 2009, 3:26 AM
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  #4602  
Old Posted Feb 26, 2009, 4:57 AM
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Kind of interesting that all the comments on that story are about how 110 mph is a waste of money and we should go whole hog. Wouldn't have minded getting ten times as much in the stimulus so that could happen. I would be pleasantly surprised if the Chicago lines got $2 billion of this money though.

The times he mentions are pretty lackluster. Chicago to Madison in under three hours? You can drive in two and a half, or even stop in Milwaukee first in just over three. It's only 170 miles.
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  #4603  
Old Posted Feb 26, 2009, 5:12 AM
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The Chicago-Milwaukee line is well suited to incremental improvement via the "Amtrak+" approach. It's probably the only city where that works, however.
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  #4604  
Old Posted Feb 26, 2009, 6:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BVictor1 View Post
http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune....ff--filli.html

Chicago as a high-speed rail hub: Has the time for this idea finally come?



......... Groups pushing for a Midwest, high-speed rail network centered in Chicago, an idea that the Chicago Architectural Club explored last year with an ideas competition for a station for such a network (above left). It would be located just east of Union Station. Despite the practical hurdles in its way, like the two buildings now on the site, perhaps this is an idea whose time has finally come.

Been thinking about this of late and want to get thoughts. If theoretically Chicago were to develop a new HSR/inter-city "hub" what/where plan would you like to see.......

- Union St./Gateway Cener - Demolishing of 222 S.Riverside Plaza (like the Chicago Architectural Club winner depicts). Pros - Could make Union Stations platform areas much brighter and modern instead of the dingy caves they are now. Has a great potential riverside aspect. Cons - The demolishing of a +40 story building isn't very environmental sensitive plus downright expensive, hassles for commuters for a few years. How I see it (please correct me where I have facts/logistics wrong)....

- West Loop Transit Center -.....Pro's - It fully built out as planned would be a highly integrated intermodal station with new tracks that would no longer crowd commuter and inter-city trains for same space. Not really sure how many tracks could be devoted and built under Clinton St. Cons - Sounds expensive if just HSR portion is built, sounds dreadful expensive if all transit levels are built. A subterranean hub may be a wonder of engineering but doesn't provide much of a street presence.

- Old Post Office - Only listing this because I have seen it mentioned a few times as a possibility. Pros - The building and tracks are already in place and potential adjoining hotel and offices subway (could build a connection to Clinton Blue Line I imagine rather easily). Cons - Still dingy subterranean platforms. Not sure if track logistics would provide for good traffic flow or make it even feasible. Plans for the Old Post Office seem in place.

- Completely new station outside of downtown connected by transit. I think there are cases where this is being done in Europe/Asia. Pros - Much more creative freedom and less expense to build since no need to demolish or excavate any building or streets. Could provide plenty of room for expansion and be built so there would be minimal interference of current commuter rail. Cons - Not sure if I am looking over some major hurdles that would prevent these locations or not. Not immediately accessible to downtown destinations. Would have to build or extend a transit line to connect the station to downtown which greatly increases cost. The area of the locations I have in mind are dreary to say the least.

Two Potential locations?
#1 - Racine / Kinzie
#2 - Canal / 14th Pl.
http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...2538&encType=1

Last edited by nomarandlee; Feb 26, 2009 at 8:51 PM.
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  #4605  
Old Posted Feb 26, 2009, 7:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nomarandlee View Post
Been thinking about this of late and want to get thoughts. If theoretically Chicago were to develop a new HSR/inter-city "hub" what/where plan would you like to see.......

- Union St./Gateway Cener - Demolishing of 222 S.Riverside Plaza (like the Chicago Architectural Club winner depicts). Pros - Could make Union Stations platform areas much brighter and modern instead of the dingy caves they are now. Has a great potential riverside aspect. Cons - The demolishing of a +40 story building isn't very environmental sensitive plus downright expensive, hassles for commuters for a few years. How I see it (please correct me where I have facts/logistics wrong)....

- West Loop Transit Center -.....Pro's - It fully built out as planned would be a highly integrated intermodal station with new tracks that would no longer crowd commuter and inter-city trains for same space. Not really sure how many tracks could be devoted and built under Clinton St. Cons - Sounds expensive if just HSR portion is built, sounds dreadful expensive if all transit levels are built. A subterranean hub may be a wonder of engineering but doesn't provide much of a street presence.

- Old Post Office - Only listing this because I have seen it mentioned a few times as a possibility. Pros - The building and tracks are already in place and potential adjoining hotel and offices subway (could build a connection to Clinton Blue Line I imagine rather easily). Cons - Still dingy subterranean platforms. Not sure if track logistics would provide for good traffic flow or make it even feasible. Plans for the Old Post Office seem in place.

- Completely new station outside of downtown connected by transit. I think there are cases where this is being done in Europe/Asia. Pros - Much more creative freedom and less expense to build since no need to demolish or excavate any building or streets. Could provide plenty of room for expansion and be built so there would be minimal interference of current commuter rail. Cons - Not sure if I am looking over some major hurdles that would prevent these locations or not. Not immediately accessible to downtown destinations. Would have to build or extend a transit line to connect the station to downtown which greatly increases cost. The area of the locations I have in mind are dreary to say the least.

Potential locations?
http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...2538&encType=1
The 110 mph trains the Midwest High Speed Rail Association plans to use are FRA compliant. Therefore, they can continue to use Union Station. A new HSR train station in Chicago isn't needed, just as new train stations in every town and city aren't needed. That's one reason why the Midwest High Speed Rail Association plans costs are so low.

Off hand, I can think of two manufactures of 110+ mph trains that are FRA compliant.
(1) Bombardier - using the same passenger cars Amtrak's Acela uses but using the JetTrain locomotive.


(2) Talgo - using the same passenger cars Amtrak's Cascades uses, with Talgo diesel locomotive or a more traditional American locomotove.



But Union Station in Chicago could be remodeled and refurbished.
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  #4606  
Old Posted Feb 26, 2009, 2:50 PM
mcfinley mcfinley is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nomarandlee View Post
Been thinking about this of late and want to get thoughts. If theoretically Chicago were to develop a new HSR/inter-city "hub" what/where plan would you like to see.......

- Union St./Gateway Cener - Demolishing of 222 S.Riverside Plaza (like the Chicago Architectural Club winner depicts). Pros - Could make Union Stations platform areas much brighter and modern instead of the dingy caves they are now. Has a great potential riverside aspect. Cons - The demolishing of a +40 story building isn't very environmental sensitive plus downright expensive, hassles for commuters for a few years. How I see it (please correct me where I have facts/logistics wrong)....

- West Loop Transit Center -.....Pro's - It fully built out as planned would be a highly integrated intermodal station with new tracks that would no longer crowd commuter and inter-city trains for same space. Not really sure how many tracks could be devoted and built under Clinton St. Cons - Sounds expensive if just HSR portion is built, sounds dreadful expensive if all transit levels are built. A subterranean hub may be a wonder of engineering but doesn't provide much of a street presence.

- Old Post Office - Only listing this because I have seen it mentioned a few times as a possibility. Pros - The building and tracks are already in place and potential adjoining hotel and offices subway (could build a connection to Clinton Blue Line I imagine rather easily). Cons - Still dingy subterranean platforms. Not sure if track logistics would provide for good traffic flow or make it even feasible. Plans for the Old Post Office seem in place.

- Completely new station outside of downtown connected by transit. I think there are cases where this is being done in Europe/Asia. Pros - Much more creative freedom and less expense to build since no need to demolish or excavate any building or streets. Could provide plenty of room for expansion and be built so there would be minimal interference of current commuter rail. Cons - Not sure if I am looking over some major hurdles that would prevent these locations or not. Not immediately accessible to downtown destinations. Would have to build or extend a transit line to connect the station to downtown which greatly increases cost. The area of the locations I have in mind are dreary to say the least.

Potential locations?
http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...2538&encType=1
I've been thinking about this a lot lately too. I think it's important to use the existing Union Station or some other location between it and Ogilvie, relatively. Even if that means using an ugly subterranean station with little street presence, I believe maintaining high connectivity with existing Amtrak/Metra/CTA trains should be the highest priority to maximize its use. A separate station for South/East bound trains at Millennium would also be smart, and I believe two dedicated tracks are about to be abandoned for such a thing with the CN-EJ&E merger. That said, I would very much like to see some sort of CTA extension if we get real HSR--one that runs along Canal, between Kedzie and Roosevelt and connecting every form of mass transit in between.


Regarding the routes, I think the decisions that are made now will determine what type of connectivity is prioritized in the future. I believe that a Chicago to Minneapolis corridor is more important to establish first than one from Chicago to St Louis. The length of the routes are approximately the same, but Minneapolis has a greater international presence and a more complimentary service industry than St. Louis. Therefore, the amount of business travel between Chicago and Minneapolis would be increased by a much greater degree than Chicago-St Louis, particularly in winter when flying becomes unreliable for short trips.

Secondly, I don't think that a Chicago-Milwaukee-Madison-...Minneapolis line is smart, precisely because the amount of intra-city slowdown that is necessary will substantially reduce the end-to-end commutes that are established to compete with the travel times of flying. A 110 line between Milwaukee-Chicago and Milwaukee-Madison will take care of most intercity jaunts; HSR isn't really needed. But I think a smarter connection north would be Chicago-O-Hare-Rockford-Madison-Rochester-(MSP? a wee bit out of the way)-Minneapolis. That would provide a well used route that isn't crippled by slow zones near the ends.

Third, I would very much like to see a connection among the Midwest's elite universities play a role in where inter-city stations are established. This would both improve the pedigree of established universities, and would also make the Midwest a more attractive location for graduate student immigration--a valued population that doesn't necessarily own a car. Broadly, the Mega-region around Chicago has 9(?) schools that are top 100 all around, top 20 in specialized fields: U. Chicago, Northwestern, U. Wisconsin, U. Minnesota, U. Illinois, Purdue, Washington U. St Louis, Notre Dame, and U Michigan. For this reason, I think a Chicago to St Louis route should pass through Champaign rather than Bloomington. Also, this is another reason that a Madison to Chicago route should not be hampered by Chicago-Milwaukee slow zones.
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  #4607  
Old Posted Feb 26, 2009, 3:01 PM
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Originally Posted by nomarandlee View Post
Completely new station outside of downtown connected by transit. I think there are cases where this is being done in Europe/Asia. Pros - Much more creative freedom and less expense to build since no need to demolish or excavate any building or streets. Could provide plenty of room for expansion and be built so there would be minimal interference of current commuter rail. Cons - Not sure if I am looking over some major hurdles that would prevent these locations or not. Not immediately accessible to downtown destinations. Would have to build or extend a transit line to connect the station to downtown which greatly increases cost. The area of the locations I have in mind are dreary to say the least.
^ All good ideas, but I'll strike this one down for the reasons you mentioned above. Any station that is not downtown simply loses any of the advantages that rail offers. You really do have to have the HSR system terminate in downtown Chicago, not anywhere else (including O'Hare, which a few people have proposed, and which I would consider a huge mistake that, if ever proposed seriously, I would hope city leaders would strike down in an instant).

I have discussed this before, and I'll propose this again: Chicago should have 2 major transit nodes:

1. West Loop Transportation Center (Blue line spur, Metra and Amtrak terminals, HSR terminal)

2. East Loop Transportation Center (Connects to the Red Line, the Elevated train, connects via walkway to Millennium Station)

The above should be connected to eachother by an underground subway akin to the Times Sq/Grand Central Terminal shuttle in NYC.

Finally, the city should build that Carrol Avenue BRT to finally link Streeterville/Navy Pier/Mag Mile/Northwestern Univ to its downtown rail terminals, especially since it's eliminating the free trolley system.
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  #4608  
Old Posted Feb 26, 2009, 4:49 PM
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What reasons are there that the current union station could not be used without demolishing 222 S Riverside Plaza? Subterranean platforms do not necessarily have to equate to dark and dingy. It could be dressed up to be much less depressing. Keep the 40 story building, but rebuild the rest of the block to be a modern rail station.

While we're on the subject, if platform space at Union Station is one of the reasons they're looking for alternatives, aren't some folks thinking of rebuilding it to have run-through tracks? Through-routing trains (both commuter and high speed) could increase efficiency and require fewer platforms.

One problem might be if the columns from the building above make that impossible. Although I'd hate to think they built it without taking that into account, but if that's the case then demolishing the building might make sense after all
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  #4609  
Old Posted Feb 26, 2009, 6:04 PM
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Originally Posted by orulz View Post
What reasons are there that the current union station could not be used without demolishing 222 S Riverside Plaza? Subterranean platforms do not necessarily have to equate to dark and dingy. It could be dressed up to be much less depressing. Keep the 40 story building, but rebuild the rest of the block to be a modern rail station.
According to the MWHSRA, Union Station is already at capacity during rush hour, so any intercity trains would have to depart or arrive outside of the rush, which is suboptimal. There's a bunch of information about what they think should be done at Union Station here: http://www.downtownairport.com/index.htm

I think Millennium Station supposedly can't handle diesel trains. No idea how difficult it would be to make it possible to do so.

Is there capacity left at Ogilvie during the rush?

How about LaSalle? Could southbound trains use that station, perhaps if connectivity to the other stations were improved?
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  #4610  
Old Posted Feb 26, 2009, 6:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Abner View Post
How about LaSalle? Could southbound trains use that station, perhaps if connectivity to the other stations were improved?
part of the CREATE program is to build a connection at 75th and parnell to allow the Metra SW service to move to the Lasalle Terminal.
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  #4611  
Old Posted Feb 26, 2009, 6:32 PM
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Or we could just get really creative with Union Station and preserve the 40 story building, open up the tracks to light, and have a street presence. I love how people always assume things undoable. Its this simple, empty out 222 of tenants for the time being, then demolish the cladding on the lower 4 or 5 floors of it. Wherever possible, take out the floor plates as well, essentially leaving the whole building on stilts with nothing but the core and supports remaining. Then reenforce the building if necessary and re build the whole thing with a giant crystalline structure taking up the whole bottom of the block forming a base which 222 juts out of and allowing huge glass atrium that allow light to pour down through the passageways, food courts, waiting areas, ticket lines, and tracks below.

I don't know why people don't think of stuff like this as a solution more often. I mean "we need to build under this building", its a skeletal building, just remove everything but the essential skeleton on the lower floors and go from there. Yeah you'd have to work around it, but the end result would be stunning...
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  #4612  
Old Posted Feb 26, 2009, 7:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Nowhereman1280 View Post
Its this simple, empty out 222 of tenants for the time being, then demolish the cladding on the lower 4 or 5 floors of it. Wherever possible, take out the floor plates as well, essentially leaving the whole building on stilts with nothing but the core and supports remaining. Then reenforce the building if necessary and re build the whole thing with a giant crystalline structure taking up the whole bottom of the block forming a base which 222 juts out of and allowing huge glass atrium that allow light to pour down through the passageways, food courts, waiting areas, ticket lines, and tracks below.
That's probably possible - but even given such a radical rebuild of the building's base, my question is: Would it be possible to increase the number of run-through tracks and platforms at Union Station? That's the key to increasing the station's capacity. If the core and supports of 222 are advantageously configured, it might be possible. I've not seen or heard any word on this one way or the other. Anybody know?

If it is possible, the other question is, would it be more or less expensive than digging a deep trench under Clinton for the West Loop Transportation Center and sticking in four HSR run-through tracks on the bottom level? Will 4 run-through tracks be enough? Which offers better operational characteristics such as grade, curvature, track layout; connections to other modes, proximity to amenities, etc.?

Last edited by orulz; Feb 26, 2009 at 8:27 PM.
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  #4613  
Old Posted Feb 26, 2009, 8:22 PM
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Kind of interesting that all the comments on that story are about how 110 mph is a waste of money and we should go whole hog. Wouldn't have minded getting ten times as much in the stimulus so that could happen. I would be pleasantly surprised if the Chicago lines got $2 billion of this money though.

The times he mentions are pretty lackluster. Chicago to Madison in under three hours? You can drive in two and a half, or even stop in Milwaukee first in just over three. It's only 170 miles.
Again, I think that we must remember that the money we're talking about now is just coming from the stimulus package. Seeing as a lot of road projects are getting money as well, that could bode well for us and rail when it's time to renew the Transportation Bill. Also, don't forget the posibility of the Olympics. If we get them, that'll mean even more money. 3 possible sources: stimulus, transit bill and olympics.

Also, the fact that Ray LaHood is the Transportation Secretary, could really be helpful. Even though he's a suburban republican, from what I understand, he likes rail transportation.
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  #4614  
Old Posted Feb 26, 2009, 9:49 PM
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Would it be possible to increase the number of run-through tracks and platforms at Union Station?
During WWII, when long cross-country troop trains were regularly passing through Chicago, there was a scheme to connect tracks 17 & 26 to create an additional through track at the east end. Apparently the original caissons had been placed with that in mind, and I'm guessing 222 South Riverside didn't change that. There's another runthrough track that doesn't have platform access. Also there's a service roadway next to the river that's underused. With a few million dollars of work, I think there's room for a total of four through tracks next to the river.

To say Union Station is "at capacity" will provoke laughter from anyone who's ever stood on the platforms at Cologne or Bern Hbf, watching several dozen trains depart during a single hour. We've been so sloppy for so many decades that it seems easier to build an entirely new facility rather than change work rules or operating practices to efficiently use what we have.

Pedestrian congestion in the concourse is probably much more of an intractable problem. I'm not sure if it could be solved by moving a lot of the passenger waiting rooms and food service to the west end of the headhouse, or by pushing some facilities upward into the "ground floor" of 222 or the health club.

Last edited by Mr Downtown; Feb 27, 2009 at 2:53 AM. Reason: Revised after checking my source material
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  #4615  
Old Posted Feb 27, 2009, 2:35 AM
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Originally Posted by BVictor1 View Post
...
Even though he's a suburban republican, from what I understand, he likes rail transportation.
He's from Peoria - that's not (yet) a suburb of Chicago. Put high-speed rail from there to here, and maybe it could be, though. :-)
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  #4616  
Old Posted Feb 27, 2009, 2:36 AM
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Again, I think that we must remember that the money we're talking about now is just coming from the stimulus package. Seeing as a lot of road projects are getting money as well, that could bode well for us and rail when it's time to renew the Transportation Bill. Also, don't forget the posibility of the Olympics. If we get them, that'll mean even more money. 3 possible sources: stimulus, transit bill and olympics.

Also, the fact that Ray LaHood is the Transportation Secretary, could really be helpful. Even though he's a suburban republican, from what I understand, he likes rail transportation.

I agree. The moment I heard Ray LaHood was a candidate for Transportation Secretary I was pleased. I know LaHood's politics and his downstate district rather well so my opinion was very quickly solidified.
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  #4617  
Old Posted Feb 27, 2009, 2:21 PM
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I can't believe we aren't talking about this yet...

Quote:
Mayor Richard Daley names new CTA, aviation bosses

Richard Rodriguez takes over transit; O'Hare expansion chief Rosemarie Andolino adds duties

By Jon Hilkevitch | Tribune reporter
February 27, 2009

Richard Rodriguez had barely enough time to learn his way around Chicago's airports before he was reassigned Thursday to the CTA, the nation's second-largest transit system.

Mayor Richard Daley selected Rodriguez, whom he touted as a manager extraordinaire, to become Chicago Transit Authority president.

It was part of a double Cabinet appointment that elevated O'Hare expansion chief Rosemarie Andolino to the additional post of aviation commissioner, the job that Rodriguez held only since April.

Rodriguez, 38, said he wasn't ready to talk about the direction he would take the CTA, nor was he familiar enough to comment on the transit agency's latest budget crisis or equipment problems that have sidelined more than 200 CTA buses.

...
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...,7236624.story

So is this good move or a bad move? I really don't know anything about either of these two appointments.
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  #4618  
Old Posted Feb 27, 2009, 5:15 PM
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Is Daley allergic to the idea of appointing any experts to anything, ever? The CTA is heading into probably its worst budget crisis in history and the person in charge of the organization has no idea what's going on there? What?
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  #4619  
Old Posted Feb 27, 2009, 5:29 PM
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^ That's because Daley doesn't want to appoint anybody to any organization who isn't completely under his control
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  #4620  
Old Posted Feb 27, 2009, 8:33 PM
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Ron Huberman goes to show that an infusion of outside talent can make a big positive difference. Let's hope Rodriguez stays the course.

Domain expertise is always good - but is only one of the qualities that make a good organizational leader, and arguably not the most important.
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