Rail~Volution Chicago 2006 Rolls into Town, Showcasing Why Chicago Is the 'Granddaddy of Transit-Oriented Development' - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Rail~Volution Chicago 2006 Rolls into Town, Showcasing Why Chicago Is the 'Granddaddy of Transit-Oriented Development'

At annual conference, local and national community building experts address transit-oriented development, public-private parternerships, congestion pricing, bike infrastructur,e and more

(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 stations.

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 participants.”

In 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,” said MarySue 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 now.”

The RTA and MPC co-hosted Rail~Volution Chicago 2006. Several locally based o rganizations, 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.


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