(CHICAGO) .... Just days before the Regional Transportation Authority,
Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and Pace release their draft strategic plan to
improve and expand the region’s transit system while fighting traffic
congestion, Rail~Volution Chicago 2006 rolled into town, showing off what the
Chicago region is known for: our historic and new communities built around train
Some 1,500 transportation advocates and experts
from across the country are gathered in Chicago Sunday, Nov. 5, through
Wednesday, Nov. 8, for Rail~Volution, an annual conference highlighting how
cutting-edge communities are using transportation connections not only to fight
congestion and ease workers’ commutes, but also to boost local business, attract
new housing development, and improve quality of life for local residents.
Rail~Volution Chicago 2006 is the 12th annual Rail~Volution conference, with
recent past host cities including Salt Lake City, Utah; and Portland, Ore. At
Monday’s Opening Plenary, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters said,
“With America’s population and economy growing at a record pace, rail and other
transit services must play a role in shaping and sustaining our communities.”
“While we may not be able
to simply pave our way out of gridlock, we might just be able to ride the rails
around it,” Secretary Peters said.
Since 1995, Rail~Volution
has been the foremost learning experience for community leaders, investors,
planners, decision makers, and others interested in swapping transportation
development success stories. The growing national appetite for the tangible
benefits of “transit-oriented development,” or TOD – the organic or intentional
creation of attractive, mixed-use, mixed-income communities accessible to
transit stops – led in 1995 to the creation of the conference by U.S. Rep. Earl
Blumenauer (D-Ore.). The congressman told the crowd at Monday’s opening session
that the market for sustainable community development is strong.
"We are excited about
Rail~Volution coming to Chicago because of its stature not just as a great
transit city , but as a leader in sustainable development and livability,” U.S.
Rep. Blumenauer said, adding, “We look forward to working with diverse groups of
citizens and professionals to explore innovative solutions and help communities
everywhere make the same transition toward becoming communities of the future.”
Other featured speakers at the conference include local
and national experts Doug Farr, Farr Associates; Jacky Grimshaw, Center for
Neighborhood Technology; and Diane Legge Kemp, DLK Civic Design. Speakers from
national and international organizations include Jan Gehl, Gehl Architects,
Denmark; David Goldberg, Smart Growth America, Washington D.C.; Greg LeRoy, Good
Jobs First, Washington D.C.; William W. Millar, American Public Transportation
Association, Washington, D.C.; Peter Newman, Murdoch University
, Western Australia; and
Robert Puentes, The Brookings Institution, Washington D.C.
During the four-day conference, some 22 different “mobile workshops” will
depart from the Marriott Magnificent Mile Hotel, 540 N. Michigan Ave., taking
participants by train, bike and foot to towns and cities in the tri-state region
(northeastern Illinois, northwestern Indiana, and southeastern Wisconsin) where
transportation is transforming communities. Groups will see firsthand how job
centers, mixed-income homes, and retail shops are being supported by commuter
rail stations, pedestrian-friendly streets, and bike routes in places like
Joliet, Ill.; Gary Ind.; and Chicago’s revitalized South Shore neighborhood.
From towns where TOD projects are in the works to decades-old urban
neighborhoods that grew up around Chicago’s famous El train, the mobile
workshops will bring TOD to life for Rail~Volution participants.
“The Chicago region – widely considered the 'granddaddy of transit-oriented
development' – is well known for using innovative transportation connections to
support great neighborhoods and a healthy region,” said James R. Reilly, Board
chair of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), conference co-host. “Since
its streetcar days, before transit-oriented development even had a name, Chicago
has been at the forefront of innovative community design. We’re thrilled to have
the opportunity to share our success stories with Rail~Volution Chicago 2006
addition to mobile workshops, conference sessions
at the Marriott will cover
topics such as “green” transportation design; the growing car sharing movement;
community building lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina; and the latest
strategies for managing downtown parking.
“Across the country, as
our cities experience the relentless outward march of car-dependent development,
we know there’s a better way,”
Barrett, president of the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC),
conference co-host. “By redirecting infrastructure investments to unlock
economic growth, especially in areas that have been bypassed, our region can
continue to grow while cutting down on marathon commutes and grinding traffic
congestion. Rail~Volution reminds us that the time is
RTA and MPC co-hosted Rail~Volution Chicago 2006. Several locally based
including the American Planning Association and Congress for the New Urbanism,
were Rail~Volution Chicago 2006 affiliates.
To learn more about Rail~Volution Chicago 2006, visit www.railvolution.com.