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  #5601  
Old Posted Aug 20, 2009, 1:39 AM
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I do not like this downsizing of Create.
I took a look at what was cancelled... really nothing too important. A few random grade separations on low-traffic streets, and a handful of major projects that would have benefited only CN.

All the improvements affecting Amtrak and Metra remain in the plans.

Canceled:
Grade separation, 144th Street & UP RR, Blue Island, $15m
Grade separation, Burr Oak Ave & CSX RR, Blue Island $15m
Grade separation, 19th Avenue & UP RR, Maywood $15m
Central Corridor, Ogden-Grand Crossing, Chicago $97m
Ogden Junction/BNSF Connector $16m
CN Altenheim Subdivision Rebuild $31m

Total savings: $189m (only 6% of the total $3B)


The Altenheim Subdivision project's cancellation is probably a huge bonus, in fact, for Chicago transportation. It is the freight line that runs next to the Eisenhower in Oak Park, then in Franklin Park, becomes part of Metra's North Central Service. Because of the EJ&E purchase, CN will no longer be running large numbers of trains on this line. That means that portions of it may be up for purchase, providing a possible solution to capacity problems on the Metra line, and a possible solution to Eisenhower widening through Oak Park.
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Last edited by ardecila; Aug 20, 2009 at 1:55 AM.
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  #5602  
Old Posted Aug 20, 2009, 3:14 AM
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a possible solution to capacity problems on the Metra line
What Metra line?
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  #5603  
Old Posted Aug 20, 2009, 4:24 AM
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CN owns the tracks on which Metra's North Central Service runs. Due to CN's purchase of the EJ&E, most of their through-Chicago trains will be diverted from this line. The tracks will not be totally abandoned by CN, but a greatly reduced number of freight trains will allow for a more robust Metra schedule on the NCS, including a potential O'Hare express train (if coupled with a People Mover extension).

In Forest Park, the south end of CN's line connects to CSX's Altenheim Sub (owned as part of the B&OCT). Although CSX owns this line, it connects only to CN tracks on the west end in Forest Park, and I believe CN is the sole user, through trackage rights. CN's purchase of EJ&E means they will no longer be using this line, allowing it to be abandoned and possibly used for transit purposes or highway expansion. I doubt CN will continue to pay for trackage rights on a line they no longer use, and without that revenue, CSX will no longer wish to maintain the line.

There's also a short stretch of CN-owned track between Franklin Park and Forest Park that will also be abandoned by CN.
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Last edited by ardecila; Aug 20, 2009 at 4:53 AM.
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  #5604  
Old Posted Aug 20, 2009, 2:01 PM
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^Right, I understand all that, but how would the Altenheim sub provide "a possible solution to capacity problems on the Metra line?" Which Metra line?
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  #5605  
Old Posted Aug 20, 2009, 4:56 PM
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The Altenheim Sub itself wouldn't affect Metra either way. But further up the line (north of Franklin Park), CN is reducing freight traffic on their ex-Soo Line tracks, which should allow more North Central trains.

Under the original CREATE plan, the Altenheim Sub would have been reconstructed and linked to a new CN corridor running southeast to Grand Junction, giving CN a dedicated corridor through the city. With the EJ&E purchase, the need for the Altenheim Sub and the ex-Soo Line has been eliminated or greatly reduced.

Essentially, CN's EJ&E purchase should remove the majority of CN trains from their lines inside the EJ&E, leaving a bunch of CN-owned, urban/suburban rail corridors that are unused or lightly used.

There's the ex-Soo Line going north from Franklin Park, then an IC corridor heading west (proposed for Amtrak service to Rockford/Dubuque) and one heading south along Metra Electric.
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  #5606  
Old Posted Aug 22, 2009, 4:24 AM
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http://www.thetelegraph.com/news/ter...linsville.html

LaHood terms car program a success

August 21, 2009 10:27 PM

By SANFORD J. SCHMIDT

The Telegraph

COLLINSVILLE — Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called the "Cash for Clunkers" program an overwhelming success Friday, even as he faced a grilling because some car dealers aren’t getting their cash as fast as they would like.

LaHood, a former Republican congressman from Peoria, spoke to the media in Collinsville shortly after a meeting with area leaders on the subject of transportation. Reporters from St. Louis television stations told him the dealers in their city are up in arms because the federal government still owes them money.

"We had no idea this program was going to be so successful," LaHood said. He called it "one of the most overwhelming successes I can remember."

LaHood explained that some of the problems in reimbursing dealers are caused by applications from them that were not filled out properly.

He said 2,000 people are going over the applications, but reporters said dealers are complaining that the forms, which include 10 questions, are too complicated.

LaHood said he doesn’t feel the applications are too complicated, but he noted there will be an Internet program this weekend to walk the dealers through the process.

Under the program, the government has allocated $2 billion to people who want to trade in gas-guzzlers for more fuel-efficient cars. LaHood said there were more than 500,000 deals made in fewer than 30 days.

President Barack Obama announced this week that the program will end Monday.

"All I can say to dealers is, keep selling cars," LaHood said, assuring reporters that the dealers will get their money.

Many dealers have said they will stop Cash for Clunkers sales after today to make sure they get reimbursed by the government for the rebates of up to $4,500. The program has helped revive sagging auto sales by allowing drivers to trade in older, less fuel-efficient vehicles for new cars and trucks.

Originally expected to last for several months, the program is on track to exhaust its funds in just over four weeks.


It has been a big hit with buyers but has led to hassles for dealers, who have been paid for only a fraction of the rebates they’ve extended to customers.

Many dealers have expressed concern that they won’t be repaid. As of Thursday, only about 7 percent of rebates had been repaid.

LaHood, U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville, and Illinois Transportation Secretary Garry Hannig, a former state representative from Mount Olive, spoke to the press after talking to members of the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois.

The purpose of the visit was to talk about federal stimulus package money flowing into the state and region, along with money coming in from a capital spending bill recently passed in Illinois.

"Illinois has gotten more money out the door faster," Costello said.

He said the spending has put people to work in several parts of the state.

Hannig said the state received $620 million and units of local government have received $300 million from the federal stimulus bill. Many projects were ready to go when the bill passed, so the money was spent more quickly here than elsewhere, and the money has put more people to work, he said.

Hannig said approval and construction of a new bridge across the Mississippi River at St. Louis is the No. 1 priority for the Illinois Department of Transportation.

The guests at the transportation roundtable also talked about proposals to build a high-speed rail system in Illinois.

"Our top priority in Illinois is the Chicago-to-St. Louis route," Hannig said.

LaHood said he is convinced people will use high-speed rail if it is built to carry passengers quickly, safely and cheaply.

"If you build it, they will come,"
he said.
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  #5607  
Old Posted Aug 23, 2009, 4:06 PM
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^Finally, a rupublican with some damn sense.


Don't know if this was posted.

http://theurbanophile.blogspot.com/2...reat-part.html

Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Chicago Transit: From Good to Great, Part 1 - Building the Vision

Earlier this year, I won first prize in a global transit competition sponsored by the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. So perhaps it is past time that looked at transit in Chicago. While this article is about that city, the techniques are applicable to most places.

Both the current and former CTA presidents, Richard Rodriguez and Ron Huberman, said that Chicago has a good transit system (I agree) but deserves a great one (I also agree). So with apologies to Jim Collins, this article kicks off a multi-part series on taking Chicago area transit from good to great.

http://theurbanophile.blogspot.com/2...reat-part.html
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  #5608  
Old Posted Aug 24, 2009, 12:23 PM
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Is it me, or is this list of 19 RTA projects rather uninspiring? Several TOD studies including Skokie-Dempster Ave, Villages of Lombard, Clarendon Hills and Geneva and a corridor plan for 63rd St.

And actual transit plans for Dempster Avenue to OHare and another for the South Lakefront. The Dempster-OHare plan and So Lakefront plan sound like the work they should be doing. Is the RTA really the lead agency for TOD planning in this region? Are the studies done at the request of the towns? Im just asking, so please help me out with this.


http://www.rtachicago.com/CMS400Min/...20PROJECTS.pdf
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  #5609  
Old Posted Aug 24, 2009, 3:25 PM
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Originally Posted by jpIllInoIs View Post
Is it me, or is this list of 19 RTA projects rather uninspiring? Several TOD studies including Skokie-Dempster Ave, Villages of Lombard, Clarendon Hills and Geneva and a corridor plan for 63rd St.

And actual transit plans for Dempster Avenue to OHare and another for the South Lakefront. The Dempster-OHare plan and So Lakefront plan sound like the work they should be doing. Is the RTA really the lead agency for TOD planning in this region? Are the studies done at the request of the towns? Im just asking, so please help me out with this.


http://www.rtachicago.com/CMS400Min/...20PROJECTS.pdf
Hmm, it appears that Metra is adding a third track through Geneva on the UP-W. That's the first time I've read or heard of those plans. Anyone else have info about this?
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  #5610  
Old Posted Aug 24, 2009, 3:38 PM
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Hmm, it appears that Metra is adding a third track through Geneva on the UP-W. That's the first time I've read or heard of those plans. Anyone else have info about this?
http://metraconnects.metrarail.com/upw.php
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  #5611  
Old Posted Aug 24, 2009, 5:14 PM
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I've looked there before. The plans talk about triple tracking between River Forest and Elmhurst, but no discussion of adding additional track elsewhere. It would make sense to add third track in Geneva since its three track just west of the Geneva Metra station and three track just east in West Chicago. Adding a third track through Geneva would require adding a new span across the Fox River, however, as the current rail bridge is only built for two tracks.
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  #5612  
Old Posted Aug 24, 2009, 6:13 PM
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Grand Avenue Red Line Stop

Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't there used to be FOUR entrances/exits for the Grand Ave. Red Line Station? Did one just become swallowed up by Rock Bottom's parking lot before our very eyes?

And does it seem to anyone else that the street surface has become substantially wider while the sidewalk surface has substantially decreased east and west along Grand Ave. from the Michigan Avenue overpass west to LaSalle?

If this was the trade off to improve the Grand Avenue station, it wasn't worth it.
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  #5613  
Old Posted Aug 24, 2009, 10:23 PM
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Originally Posted by jpIllInoIs View Post
Is it me, or is this list of 19 RTA projects rather uninspiring? Several TOD studies including Skokie-Dempster Ave, Villages of Lombard, Clarendon Hills and Geneva and a corridor plan for 63rd St.

And actual transit plans for Dempster Avenue to OHare and another for the South Lakefront. The Dempster-OHare plan and So Lakefront plan sound like the work they should be doing. Is the RTA really the lead agency for TOD planning in this region? Are the studies done at the request of the towns? Im just asking, so please help me out with this.
The plans might seem uninspiring, but TOD is TOD. The 63rd Street plan makes sense, because it aims to rebuild a corridor that has been thoroughly gutted by demolition and urban renewal. It should bolster ridership on the Green Line, and hopefully reduce the stupid perception in Woodlawn that the L tracks = blight. If residents associate the new development with transit providers, then they may support the continued presence or expansion of transit in their areas.

Clarendon Hills is a wealthy suburb without a high-end downtown like its neighbors. Obviously it wants one too.

Geneva's a bit of an anomaly, since it has a vibrant and pedestrian friendly retail downtown right next to the Metra station. Most likely, the station and platforms are under-capacity but there's no feasible way to expand parking to increase ridership. They've already built a parking deck, but they didn't allow for vertical expansion. Hence, they want to add dense residential nearby to increase the walk-to-train crowd.

Skokie is a town that's already gung-ho on TOD, but so far, their planning efforts haven't been clicking. New development is dense but not urban. At least near downtown, they want to change that.

Lombard has a fairly sparse downtown with a lot of redevelopment potential. It's mostly fragments of an older, pedestrian downtown with few modern interventions, surrounded by parking lots and such.
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  #5614  
Old Posted Aug 24, 2009, 11:54 PM
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If I recall correctly, a whole bunch of plans, community meetings, workshops, seminars, etc etc with community involvement and outlines of community goals, with the assistance of urban planners emphasizing walkability and creating an urban neighborhood occurred in the past few years for the New Communities program in the south and west sides of Chicago. Bronzeville was included.

And what came of all that? The Metropolis strip mall.

All this planning is BS if you can't simply tell a developer to go back to the drawing board and spend 15 minutes making their project more transit & pedestrian friendly.
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  #5615  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2009, 1:04 AM
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*sigh* The economy makes condos infeasible right now. The condos would have occupied the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th story of Metropolis.

The community places a premium on having a food store in the community, which is currently lacking except for a Jewel in Lake Meadows that is universally despised for its small size and poor choice. Capri Capital is willing to build a food store in their neighborhood.

The use of TIF money also places pressure on the developer to deliver ASAP. People don't like seeing their tax money get redirected from schools and police/fire to shadowy developers with no tangible result.

Hence, the project is redesigned to save money, with the residences cut out.

Perhaps you can use your newfound appreciation of strip malls to recognize that this project is really a huge victory in such a marginal, emerging area? This isn't Wicker Park, where the city can slap a pedestrian-street ordinance on the hood and expect everybody to walk or circle for 30 minutes looking for street parking. The project has nice landscaping, retail parcels along Pershing, State, and 40th, and plenty of sidewalks and stuff to help pedestrians get safely and comfortably to the stores.
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Last edited by ardecila; Aug 25, 2009 at 1:15 AM.
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  #5616  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2009, 3:41 AM
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Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
If I recall correctly, a whole bunch of plans, community meetings, workshops, seminars, etc etc with community involvement and outlines of community goals, with the assistance of urban planners emphasizing walkability and creating an urban neighborhood occurred in the past few years for the New Communities program in the south and west sides of Chicago. Bronzeville was included.

And what came of all that? The Metropolis strip mall.

All this planning is BS if you can't simply tell a developer to go back to the drawing board and spend 15 minutes making their project more transit & pedestrian friendly.
Yep.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...,71.63,,0,4.26

Rampant unplanned development is definitely not the first thing that comes to mind there.
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  #5617  
Old Posted Aug 31, 2009, 2:35 PM
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Illinois to Ask LaHood for $300 Million

John D. Boyd | Aug 26, 2009 5:41PM GMT
The Journal of Commerce Online - News Story

Rail industry program seeks big funding boost from stimulus TIGER grants
Illinois will ask Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to award $300 million to a multi-year project to untangle its congested freight and passenger rail lines, under a $1.5 billion discretionary funding account LaHood will allocate from the Recovery Act.
If successful, that would be the largest piece of federal funding yet directed to the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency program, or CREATE, which is a major national priority for the freight transportation industry.

George Weber, bureau chief for railroads at the Illinois Department of Transportation, said the state will ask for the $300 million for CREATE in a grant application due Sept. 15, on top of a $140 million request Illinois submitted Aug. 24 for a rail-bridge “flyover” project under the CREATE program to separate freight from commuter tracks.

That flyover grant submission was part of $550 million in all that Illinois is seeking in first-round stimulus funds for passenger rail development. The next CREATE request would be under what are called TIGER grants for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery.
While other types of transportation spending are specified in the Recovery Act, LaHood has broad power to allocate $1.5 billion for projects he deems necessary. He has said some of that money will go to seaport needs, which were not specifically included in other accounts.

But CREATE’s backers say they have an ambitious program under way that would not only untangle congested tracks and roads throughout Chicago but would also speed train movements throughout the continent by removing a major bottleneck.

This is their best chance in years to give CREATE a booster shot of federal dollars, to help fund what backers say is a package of 78 construction projects estimated to cost over $3 billion.

Chicago pledged $30 million the next year.
Illinois in July approved $322 million in state funding, but until more federal money pours in CREATE lists more than $2.5 billion in unfunded projects.

Now, though, a lot is moving Chicago’s way. The stimulus law aimed huge amounts of money at transportation infrastructure, and created a new passenger rail push that will see several high-speed rail or new Amtrak passenger corridors head to Chicago.
And Illinois now has unrivaled clout in Washington, D.C. The election of Barack Obama as president put a former senator from Illinois in the White House, with Rahm Emanuel giving up a Chicago seat in the House of Representatives to be his White House Chief of Staff.
DOT Secretary LaHood had left a House seat from Peoria, Ill. New Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo was a longtime rail union lobbyist and former mayor of Riverdale outside Chicago. And in the Senate, Richard Durbin of Illinois ranks second in the Democratic leadership, with influence over a broad range of issues.

Contact John D. Boyd at jboyd@joc.com.
http://www.joc.com/node/413097
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  #5618  
Old Posted Sep 1, 2009, 1:31 AM
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Here's part two of my transit series. It compares the design of our transit system - stations, shelters, buses, uniforms, entrances - to others around the world with a call to improve:

http://theurbanophile.blogspot.com/2...t-part_30.html

I also have a collection of photos of metro stations from around the world, but I'm guessing you've seen most of them already.
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  #5619  
Old Posted Sep 2, 2009, 8:31 PM
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Out of curiosity given the growth of ridership on the Brown line and the residential development along it over the past 10-15 years does anyone think it might be possible that we could see a return to owl service on the brown line?

Should we?

I think it might make sense....I think it certainly should go later than mid-night
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  #5620  
Old Posted Sep 2, 2009, 8:48 PM
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The shuttle between Kimball-Belmont goes until something like 2:15 and starts up by about 4:30.
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