In the Loop is your round-up of what’s going on in the transportation world, posted in conjunction with Talking Transit.
In August, Mayor Rahm Emanuel named Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) President MarySue Barrett co-chair of the City of Chicago’s Museum Campus Transportation Study task force, along with City Chief Operating Officer Joe Deal. The task force’s mission is to improve connections to and between the campus’ museums and other facilities, making it easier for residents and visitors to experience this exciting area of the city. As a result of Barrett’s nomination, MPC will be supervising work by staff at the Chicago Dept. of Transportation. In addition, MPC will host an open house at our offices on Tuesday, Oct. 14, from 4 to 6 p.m., for the general public to learn about the study and contribute their ideas.
In collaboration with Alderman Rey Colón, MPC is conducting a three-part Corridor Development Initiative process in Logan Square. As part of the Initiative, residents of the community and other interested stakeholders are planning proactively for the future of the Logan Square Blue Line station plaza and adjacent surface parking lot on Emmett Street. The first two meetings each attracted more than 160 attendees; the third meeting will occur on Tuesday, Sept. 30, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Hairpin Arts Center.
In recent weeks, MPC has also hammered home the importance of long-term regional planning principles. In addition, MPC is tracking work being conducted to develop a public-private partnership for the development of the City of Chicago’s Riverwalk project.
This week, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released a much-anticipated report on the quality of transit in the Chicago region. The report drew heavily on MPC’s research and analysis of the challenges facing Northeastern Illinois’ public transportation system, and noted that the region needs better cooperation between regional transportation entities and more funding in order to achieve world-class status.
Chicago was lucky to receive a bit more funding this month, however, for the creation of a new pedestrian bridge at 41st Street. Through separate funds, the City of Chicago is also building new bridges at 35th and 43rd Streets; all will improve connections between Bronzeville and the Lakefront. The 41st Street bridge is funded by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s TIGER competitive grant program, which also provided funds this year for bus rapid transit in Omaha, Neb. and Richmond, Va. and streetcars in Detroit and Providence, R.I. In previous years, the City of Chicago has received TIGER grants for the Riverwalk, the 95th Street Red Line Station and the CREATE project.
Transit systems in other cities are moving forward with innovative new ways to make their networks more appealing for passengers. In Honolulu, construction is well underway on what will be the nation’s first driverless rail transit line that does not connect to an airport. The line, which will cost $5.2 billion, will open in stages beginning in 2017.
In Indianapolis, a bus rapid transit line is being promoted by the local government, with the intention of providing speedy, efficient commutes for people through that region. And in San Antonio, the focus is being put on public art. New bus shelters feature fanciful colors and shapes designed to appeal to users and also people just walking along the sidewalks.