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Comments on 2015 Chicago Transit Authority budget

H. Michael Miley (cc)

CTA trains are running well and attracting more crowds.

The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) commends the Chicago Transit Authority’s 2015 budget proposal. Over the past four years, the transit authority has made great strides toward balancing its budget, has generally increased its ridership and has invested appropriately in the upgrade of the system’s most important physical infrastructure. The Chicago Transit Authority has been a good steward of taxpayer support and the fares paid by its riders. The agency’s costs per passenger served are lower than those of peer agencies all around the country. The agency is increasing rail service next year without increasing fares—a sign of stable, good management. Yet the transit authority’s ability to provide the transit service our region needs is constrained by the…

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Yes In My Back Yard: Washington, D.C. empowers residents to manage stormwater

Elmhurst College

Washington, D.C.'s RiverSmart initiative helps homeowners install rain gardens like this one to keep stormwater from overwhelming waterways.

Yes In My Back Yard is an ongoing series of case studies on stormwater management incentive programs around the U.S. and Canada. Name of program: RiverSmart Homes Location: Washington, D.C. Organization in charge: District Department of the Environment Funding source: Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, D.C. 5-cent plastic bag fee Date started: 2009 Type of incentive: Grants and rebates Eligible participants: Residential property owners, schools, houses of worship and commercial and multifamily property owners Goals of program: Education, outreach, stormwater mitigation and high participation among multiple stakeholders Assessment Metrics: Participation numbers, pollutant load tracking and rough estimates of volume The relatively low cost…

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Why Chicagoland's freight rail infrastructure is important to you and me

Our region is a key part of the nation's freight rail system.

“Chicago is a freight powerhouse.” I often hear this phrase, and it’s true; six of the seven largest U.S. railroads operate in the region, with 1,300 passenger and freight trains daily on 2,800 route-miles of track. In fact, 25 percent of all U.S. rail traffic touches Chicago, likely at one of the 78 rail yards. But really, how does that affect me? I don’t work in the rail industry or live near a train crossing. Sure, I ride Amtrak and sometimes my train is late because it shares the track with a freight train, but I thought that’s where my connection ended. Yesterday I learned just how wrong I was. At the Metropolitan Planning Council's (MPC) roundtable, CREATE: Freight Driving the Economy, I learned that most of the nonperishable goods purchased in the…

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Calumet Stormwater Collaborative visits the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant

Kate Calabra

This settling tank is one of the final stages of water purification.

Fall is here and that means we get to enjoy the scents of warm apple cider, pumpkin spice everything, freshly baked pies, and for the Calumet Stormwater Collaborative, a stewing batch of wastewater. Kate Calabra The Calumet Stormwater Collaborative tours the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant. The Calumet Stormwater Collaborative is pursuing solutions that address local flooding, declining infrastructure performance, and a lack of long-term capital improvement planning for green and grey stormwater systems. To optimize impact, the Collaborative emphasizes the importance of coordination between governments and stakeholders. On Friday, Nov. 7, the Collaborative kicked off the season with a tour of the oldest and second-largest wastewater treatment plant in metropolitan Chicago. The…

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Going Solo in Chicago, part 2

Flickr user David Wilson (cc)

The Rosemoor Hotel is one of Chicago's many Single Room Occupancy buildings threatened by luxury conversion.

Earlier this year, MPC featured Eric Klinenberg at an Urban Think & Drink to share his take on the dramatic increase of people living alone. Nearly 50 years ago, only 9 percent of Americans lived alone. Today, in Chicago, 36 percent of residents live alone. This series explores how this trend has evolved in our region, what the solo lifestyle looks like and what policies might emerge to accommodate this demographic. Eric Klinenberg, author of Going Solo, calls for a distinction between living alone and being alone. He claims solos are very social people and clarifies that a solo is not necessarily single; solos simply maintain their own living space. In the first installment of the Metropolitan Planning Council’s “Going Solo” blog series, I introduced the trend of…

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