TagBRT

Non-auto construction projects in Chicago

There are 17 construction projects listed here and none are about automobiles. Additionally, there is information about 2 studies for bus rapid transit-like projects.

Download all of these into Google Earth with this KML file.

A couple of these projects are being held up by the current Illinois roadway construction workers’ strike. UPDATE: Apparently a deal has been reached to end the strike.

Streetscapes

  • Blue Island/Cermak – I wrote about this project at length in October 2009. Construction should begin as soon as the strike is resolved. CONSTRUCTION UPDATE, 10-21-10: Bioswale, or creek, is mostly complete at Benito Juarez Community Academy (BJCA). Plaza with permeable pavers, and sheltered bike parking also complete. Photos here.
  • Congress Parkway – Full details and renderings from CDOT (PDF). Project should begin in 2010 and will narrow lanes, reduce number of lanes, straighten lanes (no more mid-intersection lane shifts), widen sidewalks, and improve crosswalks. Will add a lot of landscaping and unique and decorative lighting.
  • PROPOSED: Lawrence Avenue between Ashland and Western. Reduce the number of travel lanes from four to three, adding bike lanes and a center turn lane. Project limits include the rebuilt Ravenswood Metra station at 1800 W Lawrence. More details on Center Square Journal. Construction wouldn’t begin until 2011.

Transit

  • Morgan/Lake Green and Pink Line CTA station (new) – Details and renderings from CDOT (PDF) – Overview from Chicago Transit Authority – Tons of bike parking included at the beginning, how it should be. Construction should start this year. To better serve the West Loop area, where more people are moving to, but also has lots of existing businesses.
  • State/Grand Red Line CTA station renovation – Construction should finish this year.
  • 35th/Federal Rock Island Metra station (new) – Construction started in 2010.
  • LaSalle/Congress Intermodal Center – To improve connection between buses and the LaSalle Metra station. Mentioned in the Congress Parkway streetscape presentation (PDF).
  • Wilson Red Line CTA station renovation – Down the street from a new Target store that opens this weekend and hundreds of brand new housing units in the Wilson Yard development. Will use TIF funds from the Wilson Yard district. Overview on CTA Tattler.
  • Ravenswood Metra Station – A popular station on the Union Pacific-North line (to Kenosha). Will add longer and sheltered platform and become accessible. Details with Chicago Square Journal.
  • FLOATING: New Green Line CTA station at 18th or Cermak. Roosevelt station serves three lines. South Loop neighborhood fast growing. The new station would improve transit access to McCormick Place (at least if built at Cermak). Follow the Chicago Journal for more news on this topic.

morgan cta station rendering

Rendering from the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) showing context-sensitive design. See the full presentation (PDF) for architectural influences.

Bridges

  • Halsted Street over North Branch Canal of the Chicago River. Replaces 99-year old moveable span with fixed span. No information on how it will accommodate the Halsted Street bike lane. Construction to begin in 2010 (PDF). CDOT project number 74062.
  • Navy Pier Flyover – Elevated section of the Lakefront Trail to bypass current bottleneck where the Lakefront Trail currently enters the Lake Shore Drive bridge over the Chicago River and DuSable park. Details from CDOT presentation on July 15, 2010.
  • PROPOSED: 35th Street pedestrian bridge over Metra/Illinois Central tracks and Lake Shore Drive to lakefront and Lakefront Trail. Bridge will be self-anchored suspension, like the new Bay Bridge from Oakland to San Francisco. Overview on Burnham Centennial (drawing says 2007).

Rendering of the Navy Pier Flyover as it travels over the Lakepoint Tower condominiums as seen at the Cities and Bicycles forum with David Byrne in June at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Other

  • Various CREATE projects. All CREATE projects involve railroads in some way and most projects will construct grade separations. I’ve written about CREATE.
  • The Chicago Park District opened a new beach at Oakwood/41st Street this year. The grand opening for the beach house happened this past Saturday.
  • The Chicago Park District is currently building a harbor and marina immediately south of the 31st Street beach. The Public Building Commission of Chicago has the details and renderings. AECOM, the architect of record, produced these concept drawings (PDF). It appears how bike riders currently navigate the intersection at the entrance to the beach will change to be a little more normal and not force bike riders on the sidewalk. It’s unclear how many new parking spaces are being created along the lakefront – the fewer the better. The concept plan shows a new parking lot on the west side of the railroad tracks, a design I wholly support.
  • FLOATING: Luann Hamilton mentioned at the Cities and Bicycles forum with David Byrne in June that CDOT was thinking about a buffered bike lane on Wells Street.

31st street harbor concept rendering

Rendering of the 31st Street harbor concept plan. As seen in the contractor’s presentation to the Public Building Commission of Chicago.

Related

Although not construction projects, two additional proposals merit your attention. The Chicago Department of Transportation and the Chicago Transit Authority each received grants this month to study and develop two corridors with bus rapid transit-like features. CDOT’s plan is to develop a priority bus lanes for up to seven routes between the Metra stations and Navy Pier and North Michigan Avenue (the Miracle Mile). Thank you to Kevin Z for the update.

CTA’s grant money is to fund the development of a speedy bus service from the southeast side to the West Loop via the north-south Jeffrey Avenue.

Circle Line brings out the public’s comments to the CTA

The public should always be involved in city and community planning. It can be a difficult exercise, though, but morally, and legally, we must do it. I got my own experience with dealing with the public by setting up and running, from the venue to the content, a public meeting about bicycling in Chicago in summer 2009 (reports and documents, photos).

Participants at the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council public meeting on Wednesday, June 17, 2009, discuss relevant bicycling topics.

What’s unfortunate, though, is that public participation tends to turn into meeting theater.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has just released the public comments from the third “screening” of the Circle Line Alternatives Analysis study. Screen 3 presented the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA), including route alignment and new station locations. I’ve collected a handful of some of the irrelevant or humorous comments members of the public submitted to the CTA after the open houses in September 2009. I’ve also included a selection of thoughtful, serious, and relevant ideas and questions (these ideas comprise the majority). Download the entire collection.

Irrelevant

These comments are recorded by the CTA study team, but not addressed and thrown in “Topic Area 23, do not pertain to the Circle Line.”

  • Nobody builds 1890s technology like Chicago!
  • What would Daniel Burnham think of this “LPA?
  • The connection for regular service to the Old Orchard Mall has my support.
  • These comment cards are meant to constrain public debate. RTA does not use these. Why does CTA need to control the public? [Note: If the commenter feels the need to say this, a comment card is the wrong outlet; also, an open house is not an opportunity to debate anything]
  • What is this “future plan? [Note: It seems that the commenter is unsure of their presence at the open house, or they don’t understand that the Locally Preferred Alternative includes only a small part of the Circle Line vision]

Serious

  • Tonight I was handed a flyer from LVEJO claiming that MidCity is cheaper than Circle even though it is 20 miles longer. CTA’s study says the opposite. Which one is more accurate? [Note: I would also like to know the answer]
  • The material provided on the CTA web site (the presentation slides and display boards) do not seem to be sufficient for public comment except at the most superficial level. Especially for those citizens who were unable to attend one of the three public sessions, the web materials are all that are available, and I do not believe they are adequate to meeting your requirements for public participation.

Common Topics

While the team who puts on the public meetings categorizes the comments into distinct topic areas (in order to more quickly address them), there are at least three major topic areas I saw prudent to discuss here. Read these after the jump. Continue reading

Earmarks: Good and bad, put simply

Earmarks are wonderful for the people and organizations for whom they’re designated. It’s a way to bypass normal funding procedures and jumpstart or finish a project. Instead of a bureaucrat in Washington, D.C., and your state capitol analyzing your project for its funding worthiness, you work with your locally elected official to get project funding.

Earmarks also help institutions ineligible for federal funding (for example: many local museums) get projects built for them. Earmarks may mean that your project starts getting federal grants earlier.

What earmarks also do is reduce the amount of money available for formula and Department of Transportation discretionary funding as well as lower the statewide “transportation pot.” It’s also probably immoral to use political instead of objective considerations to decide which projects are funded and which aren’t. 

However, with the right politician and the right group speaking in their ear, earmarks may mean the difference in your town getting that bike lane funded or not, because the state Department of Transportation continues to say no.

In the federal spending bill President Obama plans to sign soon, there are $7.7 billion dollars in earmarks, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense (TCS). This, so far, only includes disclosed earmarks (a handy table listing all earmarks and requesting politicians is downloadable), and the group is searching through the bill text to find the billions more in undisclosed earmarks.

Here I note a couple items of interest to Illinoisans in transportation (download searchable PDF with national table or download Excel spreadsheet from TCS):

  • Alternative Analysis Study for the J-Route Bus Rapid Transit (BTR) Project; $237,500; Rep. Roskam
  • Peoria Regional Airport; $950,000; Sen. Durbin
  • DeKalb/Taylor Municipal Airport, Various Improvements; $1,235,000; Rep. Foster, Sen. Durbin
  • CTA Red line Extension (Alternatives Analysis); $285,000; Rep. Jackson, Sen. Durbin
  • CTA Yellow Line Extension (Alternatives Analysis); $237,500; Rep. Schakowsky, Sen. Durbin
  • CTA Brown Line* (Capital Investment Grant); $30,00,000; Sen. Durbin
  • CTA Circle Line** (Capital Investment Grant); $6,000,000; Sen. Durbin
  • Metra Rock Island 35th St. Station Improvements; $712,500; Rep. Rush
  • Multimodal Center in Normal; $237,500; Rep. Weller
  • Paratransit Vehicles, West Central Mass Transit District; $104,500; Rep. LaHood
  • Replacement Heavy Duty Transit Buses, Madison County Mass Transit District; $475,000; Rep. Costello
  • Replacement of Paratransit Vehicles, Greater Peoria Mass Transit District, Peoria; $380,000; Rep. LaHood

And the list goes on. Click Read More for the notes about the CTA, info on Metra’s share, and BRT. Continue reading

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