TagWalking

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.

Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C., is where laws and funding decisions are made that affect our daily lives. We would be smart to pay attention to news that comes from here.

Photo by Jonathan Maus of BikePortland.org. “Gary Fisher telling US DOT Sec. Ray LaHood (and I paraphrase), ‘Look at this turnout… look at all these people here supporting bikes!’ “

Yesterday, Ray LaHood (Secretary of the Department of Transportation), fresh from his “tabletop speech” at the National Bike Summit, announced a big change in federal transportation funding and project selection policy.

The United States DOT says in “Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation Regulations and Recommendations” that the recommended actions were created based on already existing law and regulations.

I hope this policy change has the authority of your mom telling you not to eat cookies because she made them for a neighbor – and if you do get a couple, you’ll see the consequences in the form of a wooden spoon.

Why should we be “Collecting data on walking and biking trips”? Well, we might get the wooden spoon if we don’t, but “Communities that routinely collect walking and bicycling data are able to track trends and prioritize investments to ensure the success of new facilities.”

The document does remind readers that the Secretary (or more likely, his designee, a project reviewer) “has the authority to withhold approval for projects that would negatively impact pedestrians and bicyclists under certain circumstances.”

Found via Active Transportation Alliance. More photos.

Paths of least resistance, part two

On the same day I wrote about “paths of least resistance” in a “Tuesday Roundup,” linking to a post on Discovering Urbanism, Boing Boing posted about “pathways of desire,” referencing this article on Sweet Juniper about the walking paths found after the snow is gone in Detroit.

From Sweet Juniper: “Gaston Bachelard called these les chemins du désir: pathways of desire. Paths that weren’t designed but eroded casually away by individuals finding the shortest distance between where they are coming from and where they intend to go.”

Photo: In 2006 I went on a tour of Chicago via a chartered Chicago Transit Authority train. Part of the tour traveled along the Green Line. From above, you can see many of the trails people paved. Using Google Maps’ satellite imagery, I took a screen capture of 50th Street and King Drive and marked all of the unofficial walking paths I could see.

And, “it is an urban legend on many college campuses that many sidewalks and pathways were not planned at all, but paved by the university after students created their own paths from building to building, straying from those originally prescribed.”

Photo: From the top of University Hall, you can see all of the constructed diagonal paths surrounding the quad on the University of Illinois at Chicago’s East Campus. You can see at least four cemented “pathways of desire” in the photo.

You may also know these footpaths as “intention lines.”

Photo: A worn path or intention line through the snow in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Richard Akerman.

Tuesday roundup: Getting around

These are the posts about “getting around” I found interesting today. Blogs and the links to the referenced articles are in bold.

“Nowhere does transportation happen for transportation’s sake.” – Professor DiJohn, UIC.

Discovering Urbanism

Have you ever noticed from an elevated train or an airplane the dirt paths and small trails through parks and vacant lots? Like water and electricity, people travel the path of least resistance, with or without a dedicated facility. (Is that why flooding’s so difficult to control?) In the most recent “Google Earth Travelogue,” Discovering Urbanism points out the innumerable walking paths in the quarter mile park or mall between two highways and building corridors in Brasilia, the master planned capital of Brasil. Selected quotes:

I added this comment about how planners can use this “route choice theory” (path of least resistance) to determine where to install paths for bicyclists: “Where should cities build bikeways? Where people want them. And how might we figure where people go, aside from a stated answer survey, we could tag 1,000 random bicyclists with GPS and track where they go. It would probably give us an image like the second one in your post: with yellow lines criss-crossing the city’s street network.”

Jennifer Dill’s study of Portland, Oregon, bicyclists did just that! She asked, “How does the built environment influence bicycling behavior; and what routes did they take?” The project wasn’t used to determine where routes should be built, but how existing routes affect trips. I think the same data the project collected could also be used to answer my question, “Where should cities build bikeways?”

Human Transit

The City of Minneapolis, Minnesota, is in the midst of a major transportation upgrade in downtown. They’re converting one-way streets to two way streets with bike lanes and off-peak parking. What a way to “unlock downtown,” says Human Transit.

And they tripled bus capacity on new transit malls with two regular travel lanes in one direction, and two bus-only lanes in the opposite direction. The malls also mixing in staggered bus stops, or groups of stops targeted at a specific area of the city, making “service more legible.” Selected quotes:

  • “…every bus was as slow as the slowest bus.”
  • “Doubling the width triples the capacity.”

I visited Minneapolis in September to explore the Midtown Greenway and Hiawatha light rail. I also rode my rental bike through downtown to get a feel for how another Midwestern city’s downtown lives.

The Transport Politic

Dubai seems to grab way more headlines than its Persian Gulf neighbor, Qatar. But Qatar, with the fastest growing economy on Earth, has decided rail (both passenger and freight) infrastructure is a “crucial element to economic viability.” Some might say the Dubai Metro heavy rail transit line is too late to battle congestion (Reuters). Can Qatar avoid the same fate?

The plan the Qatari government signed with Germany’s Deutsche Bahn is ambitious: “The project will incorporate 180 miles of local light and metro rail for Doha city center, rapidly expanding public transportation offerings for what is now a car-centric place.” Selected quotes:

  • “Deutsche Bahn is laying its reputation — and its money — on the line for this project, which will be its largest-ever foreign investment.”
  • “If a country is defined by the spending it commits to its future, the U.S. is falling behind rapidly.”

I don’t think the United States will start comparing itself it to any Middle Eastern country anytime soon – many in this country still think Iraq was involved in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

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