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Old Posted Mar 22, 2010, 1:38 AM
emathias emathias is offline
Adoptive Chicagoan
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: River North, Chicago, Illinois
Posts: 5,157
Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
Light-rail along Lake Shore Drive might be successful, but the trains would not be able to zag westward into neighborhoods like the buses do, so riders would be stuck with a transfer or a significant walk to get to their homes.
I'm a near-daily user of transit in Chicago, and a rainfan, but I would never support any rail along Lake Shore Drive. Too much of LSD is too far from the population of residents for that to be a reasonable choice, ever. Either put rail under Clark and/or Broadway, or keep using buses, perhaps creating express bus lanes in some areas to expedite things. But rail, even light rail, along LSD would hinder, not help, transit on the North Side.

Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
Could Chicagoans be sold on a similar massive transportation package? If so, what should it contain?
It should include a program of integrating existing systems, active encouragement of TOD near rail stations and major bus interchanges, rejuvenating existing lines that are in need of it (North Main), and the selective addition of a few additional lines in the central area to link major centers (again, in conjunction with TOD zoning and incentives). It should be planned as a continuous expansion of existing services, with well-defined projects that developers and residents can plan for, depend on and work around. Planning as continuous projects will help keep costs controlled by eliminating stop/start costs, and getting better rates on products and labor both.

I have ideas on what I'd like to see happen over time, depending on what we're willing to spend and how much population and business growth they can spur. The key idea should be to build a city that attracts businesses, attracts residents, and builds on the urbanity we already have.

I also recognize that there should be parts of the city that remain low-density, with fewer services, and that are relatively car-friendly. But these should not be the majority of the city, and they should be served in such a way that, when they need to, they can choose to get to and from the higher-density areas without a car.

What exactly I think should be done varies by how much money a "massive" funding contains. At a minimum, I think rail lines should be brought into full-speed capability ($4 billion), that certain bus lines should be brought into BRT standards of speed and service ($500 million), that the existing express service the Purple Line provides should be made more of a true express and less of a commuter service ($200 million). Intentionally tie Metra service better into CTA service, including compatible fare methods and station locations ($100 milllion++). Almost any "massive" funding project would have enough money to do those things.

Past that, There are things I think are important but expensive, and other things that would be useful with good zoning if we could spur business and residential growth sufficient to fill additional TOD near new services. Below are some items I think are or could be important and useful, in roughly the order I personally think they are important. Some seem pie-in-the sky, but nearly all are dependant on achieving both business and residential growth within the City of Chicago. The more growth, the more of these will be both possible and necessary.

- Eliminate most left turns (maybe Ontario and Oak as the only exception) on North Michigan Avenue, and put a bus corridor in the center to expedite bus service through that corridor. ($125 million)
- Clinton Street subway ($4 billion)
- West Loop Transportation Center ($3 billion over the subway cost)
- Improve Peterson/Ridge for auto traffic to provide a faster, more reliable connection between the end of LSD and the Edens expressway. ($150 million)
- Elimination of all street-level crossings of CTA rail lines ($500 million)
- Distributor Subway as described in the Central Area Transit Project (CATP) of 1968 (the UIC/Monroe to Streeterville and McCormick place portions only) ($4 billion)
- Conversion of existing Metra Electric service to rapid transit levels ($250 million)
- Circle Line ($2 billion)
- Add light rail to the entire boulevard system. ($2.5 billion)
- Create a "I-190" spur from the curve by Chinatown north to connect to Wacker ($500 million)
- Send the Orange Line into a Dearborn/Clinton subway loop formed with the Clinton Street subway. ($350 million)
- Extend Brown Line to connect with the rails at the Blue Line. ($1 billion)
- Send Pink Line east along 15th Street to join the CATP lines, turning north to Streeterville, with transfers at the Circle Line and the Clinton Street Subway and the Green Line ($500 million)
- Increase through-routing capacity between Union Station and Northwestern. ($350 million)
- Convert Metra lines running through dense areas to electric, increase service to be at least every 20 minutes for 20 hours a day. ($2 billion)
- Convert all rail lines to be capable of automated operation ($4 billion)
- Mid-City Transit line, built in conjunction with a Mid-City expressway. Normally I'm against doing rail and transit together, but I think this could be done, but it MUST be done with TOD programs. ($3.2 billion)
- Curl the Mid-City Transit and Expressways east along around 79th to Red Line. ($1 billion)
- Build a connection capable of through-routing between the electrified north and northwest Metra lines to the current Metra Electric Millennium station. ($1.75 billion)
- Extend the Monroe-Streeterville subway north under Delaware and Clark to Fullerton and west , eventually jogging back south to Bloomingdale west of the River. ($3.0 billion - including Bloomingdale to Kedzie)
- Instead of joining the Clinton Street subway to the Red Line, run it along the rail ROW between Canal and Stewart, providing better service to Bridgeport. ($1.25 billion)
- Run the Circle Line south of the Orange Line near Ashland and then east near 35th ($2.5 billion)
- Extend the subway under Clark/Broadway to Wilson and then west to join the Brown Line ($2.5 billion)

That comes to an estimated $45.225 billion. Doing all that would likely take 20 years if really planned tightly. 40 years might make a better goal. That's $1-2 billion per year, most of which would be new spending. Even if, with financing, we spread some of the costs over 60 years at a low rate of interest, and get the feds to contribute 50% of the costs, we'd be looking at a best case annual cost of around $500 million.

In a city of 3 million, a region of 10 million, is that a lot of money? Over 60 years of payment, if the Feds pick up half the tab, that works out to about $40/month for every household in Chicago - not even making the suburbs pick up any of the cost. That's less than what most households spend on mobile phones. It seems reasonable to me, but it might not to someone who makes $10/hr.

Some of these programs would likely result in additional operating costs, too, which have to be factored in. I don't know how to factor that cost, though. I think with a strong push to pull jobs into the city and to create spaces people want to and can afford to live in the city, in those 40 years of construction, we could end up with a city that comfortably holds a new population of 5 million. 1.5% annual growth is what that would take. That's high, but not unattainable.

Last edited by emathias; Mar 22, 2010 at 2:29 AM.
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