William O. Lipinski Transportation Policy Symposium to shape reform agenda for region's transportation system - Metropolitan Planning Council

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William O. Lipinski Transportation Policy Symposium to shape reform agenda for region's transportation system

Recommendations likely to include new approaches for implementing, managing and financing transportation projects, adapted from worldwide best practices

(Chicago) … When it comes to transportation in Illinois , there are more questions than answers: when will the state finally identify a capital funding package for roads, bridges and schools? What is the future of transit in the Chicago region? Is it time to move beyond traditional funding mechanisms and explore new ways to finance and manage our transportation investments?

At “Moving the Region in a New Direction: the Inaugural William O. Lipinski Symposium on Transportation Policy,” on Monday, Oct. 15, at the W Hotel in downtown Chicago, global, national and regional transportation experts presented an array of possible answers to a crowd of regional and statewide transportation decision-makers. At the day-long, invitation-only forum, co-sponsored by McCormick Tribune Foundation, Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), and Northwestern University , the conference’s namesake encouraged attendees to leave the symposium invigorated by new ideas for solving the worsening ground transportation dilemma threatening Chicago.

“Often, the best ideas come from far and wide. That is why we are holding this symposium: to bring policymakers together with innovative thinkers and practitioners of best practices to find ways to improve Chicago’s transportation network for the benefit of not only the region, but the nation and the world,” said William O. Lipinski, former U.S. representative and former ranking minority member of the Aviation, Rail, and Highways subcommittees.

Keynote speaker U.S. Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), chair of the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, likewise urged participants to take a more global approach to developing a sustainable, integrated, multi-modal transportation system in this region.

“As Congress moves toward the reauthorization of our federal surface transportation programs, we face many challenges: aging bridges, crumbling road surfaces, a lack of transportation alternatives ... complex problems requiring complex solutions. Local and regional symposiums such as this tap the expertise of a broad base of transportation professionals and academics, and can help us find some of those complex solutions,” said Oberstar. “I am pleased and proud to be part of this event, continuing the legacy of transportation leadership of my good friend and former colleague Bill Lipinski.”

The majority of the day’s presentations focused on new approaches to implementing, managing and financing transportation projects. Panelists also emphasized the importance of selecting the right regionally significant projects to create a balanced and sustainable transportation system. Guest speakers included Edward Hamberger, president and CEO, Association of American Railroads; Todd Litman, founder and executive director, Victoria Transport Policy Institute; Timothy J. Lomax, research engineer, Texas Transportation Institute; Hani S. Mahmassani, professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Northwestern University; Daniel Murray, vice president of research, American Transportation Research Institute; Robert Puentes, scholar fellow, The Brookings Institution; and Gunnar Soderholm, director, Stockholm, Sweden’s Congestion Charging Program.

After hearing from these transportation experts, Chicago-area transportation decision-makers closed the day with a panel discussion on best approaches for Chicago and the state. Panelists were Ill. Rep. Julie Hamos (D-Evanston), chair, House Mass Transit Committee; Randy Blankenhorn, executive director, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning ; Ron Huberman, president, Chicago Transit Authority; Robert Schillerstrom, chairman, DuPage County Board; and Suzi Schmidt, chair, Lake County Board.

Northwestern University’s Infrastructure Technology Institute and The Transportation Center, along with MPC will compile the presentations and concluding remarks, including audience questions and comments, to shape recommendations for a near-term agenda to build more attractive communities with a range of travel options, backed by state revenues.

“Today’s conference injected much-needed fresh thinking about ways to move people and goods, increase access, connect regional job centers, create more attractive places, reduce commutes – and pay for it all with minimal financial support from traditional government sources,” said MarySue Barrett , president, Metropolitan Planning Council. “The next step is to identify the most feasible, high-impact ideas and test them on the ground in metropolitan Chicago.”

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