Friday, December 9, 2011

Did you know?

The Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) Holiday Train delivers 300 food baskets to community organizations throughout the city of Chicago.

Santa rides the CTA!

Photo: Devyn Caldwell

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) continues its traditional Holiday Train this month. The Holiday Train, decked out top-to-bottom with thousands of twinkling lights, garland, and bows, and ridden by Santa himself, will be pulling into a station near you throughout the month of December. The Holiday Train is a 20-year tradition that not only puts Chicagoans and visitors in the holiday spirit, but also brings good cheer to the less fortunate: CTA employees give of their time and money to purchase groceries and assemble 300 food baskets, which the Holiday Train delivers to community organizations across the city.

The Holiday Train will traverse every CTA rail line in December as part of regular rail service. Normal fares apply. Visit the CTA Holiday Train web site to find out when Santa will be coming to your train station.

Metra to the North Pole!

Also this month, little ones can take a magical ride to the North Pole on Metra’s Polar Express! This not-to-be missed experience is based on the delightful children’s book Polar Express, written by Chris Van Allsburg. Like the boy in the story who is awakened by a train conductor in the middle night and hops aboard headed to the North Pole, children on Metra’s Polar Express are encouraged to board in their pajamas. They will enjoy milk and cookies, meet Santa and his elves, and hear a reading of Van Allsburg’s classic Christmas tale. To take this enchanting ride to the North Pole, visit Santa in Chicago for boarding locations. Special fares apply. 

MPC Headlines 

Chicago-area employers unlocking gridlock through Commute Options
On Dec. 1, MPC hosted a roundtable on Commute Options, Better Commutes, Less Congestion: Employer Unlock the Region’s Gridlock. More than 80 attendees heard from area employers and the City of Chicago about what they are doing to provide workers with alternatives to the all-too-typical grinding commute.

Chicago Streets for Cycling Plan 2020
Studies show more urban residents want to bike, but many hesitate to do so because of safety concerns. The City of Chicago is on a mission to address this valid concern through the Chicago Streets for Cycling Plan 2020. Read on to find out how you can get involved.

W. Cook County Housing Collaborative to benefit from more than $7M in state, federal funding for foreclosure recovery, housing redevelopment near transit
U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development announces $2.9 million Challenge Grant; Illinois Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity announces $4.2 million grant.

All things Red Line
While I’ve lived in Chicago more than 25 years, and ride transit almost every day, the idea of traveling from one end of a line to the other end had never occurred to me. 

The power of paying attention
How the Chicago Dept. of Transporation employed Placemaking principles in the reopening of the Queen’s Landing Crossing on Lake Shore Drive.

Pace, IDOT, RTA begin Bus on Shoulder pilot project
Effective Nov. 14, Pace Express Routes 755 and 855 – which operate between free Park-n-Ride lots in the southwest suburbs and the Illinois Medical District, Loop and North Michigan Avenue in Chicago – began operating on designated portions of the shoulder on I-55, the Stevenson Expressway.



Chicago Transit Authority rehiring laid-off rail car cleaners in deal with union
The Chicago Transit Authority is rehiring about 25 rail car cleaners who were laid off two years ago. CTA and the rail union announced Thursday a deal to bring back the laid-off workers and also extend an employment program for ex-offenders, recovering addict and others.

Celebrate snow-free protected bike lanes
Good news for Chicago’s swiftly expanding population of year-round cyclists: The city now has a dedicated snow plow for protected bike lanes! The snow plow is the result of a grant from the company that makes Advil pain reliever.

Breaking down the battle John McCarron wants to start
At Grid Chicago, we like to deal with facts and we said before that we would combat bike lane backlash. The Chicago Tribune published Sunday an op-ed by John McCarron, an adjunct lecturer at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and monthly columnist, about how using bicycles and fast buses to get to work is not practical. I’ve picked 7 misinformed or inaccurate points he makes to tell you what’s real.

Running a Red Light. Stealing a Wallet. The Cameras Are Watching.
One legacy of Rahm Emanuel is digitally clear. Security cameras will follow us like a bad credit rating. The Missile’s bravura early performance includes a drastic increase in cameras to protect us from bad guys and to keep us from breaking laws, notably speeding, even while surely accelerating a loss of individual privacy.

Chicago Transit Authority Places a $454 Million Bet on Open-Fare Payments
Open-fare payments for public transportation got a big boost when the Chicago Transit Authority announced it had awarded a $454 million, 12-year contract to Cubic Transportation Systems to build and maintain a payment system that accepts contactless cards. The CTA, which provides about 500 million rides a year, thus becomes the biggest U.S. transit agency yet to commit to tap-and-go open-fare payments systemwide; the only other one is the much smaller Utah Transit Authority in the Salt Lake City area.


How Tomorrow's Infrastructure Will Be Built
In the old times – that's only ten years ago – a federal minister of planning would sit in his office and single-handedly decide whether a road, port or power-plant would be built, as well as who would build it. Contracts would then be signed behind closed doors, bulldozers would roll in, and taxpayers would foot the bill – the entire bill. Well, those days are all but gone, and a new way of building infrastructure is taking shape.

VDOT plans to build a second Midtown Tunnel in Hampton Roads
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has announced a $2.1 billion public/private partnership project, which would include the creation of a second Midtown Tunnel in Hampton Roads.

$280 million infrastructure loan OK’d to build Denver’s Eagle P3 commuter rail line
The U.S. Department of Transportation on Dec. 2 approved a federal loan of up to $280 million to advance construction on Denver’s 30-mile Eagle P3 commuter rail project, which will significantly expand transportation choices in the greater Denver area. The project is a two-pronged effort. The western segment of Eagle P3, known as the Gold Line, will serve the Denver-area suburbs of Arvada and Wheat Ridge. The East Line will run from Denver’s historic Union Station nearly 23 miles east to Denver International Airport and will connect to existing light rail and bus service. Both lines are under construction and roughly 4,700 construction-related jobs are expected to be generated by the work.

Cuomo Proposes New York Tax Overhaul, Infrastructure Fund
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to overhaul the state’s tax system, use public-private partnerships to fix infrastructure and legalize gambling as he faces a deficit of as much as $3.5 billion next fiscal year.

Mitch Daniels' legacy: infrastructure
When it comes to assessing Mitch Daniels' legacy, that rule has to be broken. With a full year left of his governorship, there's not much left on his "to do list" because he's done it already. His foremost accomplishment boils down to one word: infrastructure. According to Daniels, infrastructure is the secret to economic health.

Tracking High Priority Infrastructure Projects
The White House launched the Federal Infrastructure Projects Dashboard, a new web page where you can track the federal permitting and environmental review process for expedited high priority infrastructure projects. These projects were identified pursuant to a Presidential Memorandum, in which the President directed agencies to expedite environmental reviews and permit decisions for a selection of high priority infrastructure projects that will create a significant number of jobs, have already identified necessary funding, and where the significant steps remaining before construction are within the control and jurisdiction of the federal government and can be completed within 18 months. 


108 Giant Chinese Infrastructure Projects That Are Reshaping The World
There's an old Chinese saying that goes: “If you want to be rich, you must first build roads.” And, boy, have they built some roads: In the past year, we've seen the world's longest sea bridge, the world's longest gas pipeline and a high-speed railway that's left everyone else in the dust — literally. The resultant infrastructure push is incredible. A list of 108 super projects is floating around Chinese message boards and we picked out the 45 coolest ones to showcase here.

Philippines - More public-private partnership projects to be bidded out next year
Malacanang said more public-private partnership (PPP) projects will be up for grabs next year as the government intensifies its spending, particularly on infrastructure development. He said the government is bidding out this year the Daang Hari-South Luzon Expressway Road construction project and the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) project. There are already interested bidders for the Daang-Hari

Italian govt releases Euro 5 billion for infrastructure
Italian Premier Mario Monti's government will release euro4.8 billion ($6.43 billion) from state coffers to fund major infrastructure projects to help stimulate economic growth. The move is part of Monti's program to help Italy revive its economy. The funds released will pay for highway expansion, new railways and moveable barriers to help protect Venice from floods. Many of the projects have been stalled in progress or stuck in planning.

2012 Top 100 Global Infrastructure Projects List Released
CG/LA Infrastructure LLC, the global leader in infrastructure project identification, announced today the release of the Top 100 Global Strategic Infrastructure Projects for 2012. The total estimated value of the projects is nearly US $800 billion, double the value of the Top 100 Projects for 2011. 

Infrastructure a road block for businesses
West Australian businesses are losing commercial opportunities and paying more because of deficiencies with roads, telecommunications and energy. Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA chief economist John Nicolaou said these three areas were causing issues for local businesses and reducing their productivity. "The survey reveals that the biggest infrastructure bottlenecks facing employers are roads, telecommunications and energy," Mr Nicolaou said. Almost half of the respondents said that these three areas resulted in higher operating costs for their businesses, 43 per cent said they caused timing delays and 33 per cent said they had lost commercial opportunities because of them.

Metropolitan Planning Council
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