September Media Tips - Metropolitan Planning Council

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September Media Tips


Chicago Climate Action Plan Focuses on Greener Buildings, Transportation

The Chicago Climate Action Plan, released last week, is the city of Chicago’s new roadmap for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to reverse the alarming trend of global warming. With specific actions grouped under five over-arching strategies – energy efficient buildings, clean and renewable energy sources, improved transportation options, reduced wasted and industrial pollution, and adaptation – the plan is a coordinated guide for dozens of city and suburban agencies and organizations working to lower the entire region’s emissions.

The plan was based on extensive scientific research, showing energy consumed by buildings accounts for 70 percent of Chicago’s emissions, and transportation 21 percent. Giving people better travel options so they can drive less, by expanding and connecting transit routes and bike lanes, fixing sidewalks, and developing neighborhoods around transit hubs, is on the agenda at city agencies, Chicago Transit Authority, Regional Transportation Authority, and MPC.

None of this work will be easy, but as the plan astutely points out, “Cities, by their very nature, have a great potential to be green.” People consume less energy when they have more access to transit, smaller living spaces and shared walls (characteristic of condos and apartments). To help city residents further decrease their energy consumption and costs, the plan offers a checklist for individuals. And, as communities around the region do their part to counter climate change, Mayor Daley is urging suburban leaders to adapt the plan’s strategies for their own use.

The Chicago Climate Action Plan is available at For more information about the environmental and economic benefits of developing near transit, contact MarySue Barrett, MPC president, at 312.863.6001, or .

Learn about City’s New Bus Rapid Transit Plan at Public Meetings Sept. 24 and 25

This week, at three public meetings on Chicago’s South, West and North sides, Chicagoans can learn more about the city and Chicago Transit Authority’s proposed bus rapid transit pilot, which is funded by a $153 million federal grant and promises to help meet Chicagoans’ growing demand for more and faster public transit. Visit MPC’s Web calendar for times and locations of the three meetings.

Bus rapid transit is thriving in at least a dozen cities around the globe, in part because it’s not your typical bus service. A key difference is bus rapid transit systems have fixed stations that attract new storefronts, increase the land value around stations, and bring new residential and retail life to streets and neighborhoods. Cleveland, Ohio’s, 6.7-mile Healthline sparked 7.9 million square feet of new commercial development and 9,000 jobs. Bus rapid transit also is 25 to 30 percent more on time than other transit services, and is faster than buses, due to its dedicated lanes, traffic signal priority, and pre-boarding payment.

Even for Chicagoans who won’t ride bus rapid transit, developing a system has benefits. According to MPC’s recent report Moving at the Speed of Congestion, traffic congestion costs metropolitan Chicago $7.3 billion a year. Bus rapid transit can give Chicagoans an alternative to driving that is three times faster and eight times cheaper to build than a new rail network, but will take comparable numbers of people off the roads. Plus, Chicago isn’t the only local municipality looking into bus rapid transit. The Regional Transportation Authority and Pace also are exploring bus rapid transit routes to ease traffic and generate economic development along Golf Road in northern Cook County; on Cermak Road in Cook and DuPage counties; and in a north-south corridor connecting communities in Will, DuPage and Cook counties.

To learn more about bus rapid transit, visit MPC’s Web site, or contact Peter Skosey, vice president of external relations, at 312.863.6004, or .

Traffic Congestion a Factor in Illinois Unemployment Rates

Illinois’ unemployment rate spiked to 7.3 percent in August, marking the fourth month in a row Illinois employers cut jobs and reduced the overall workforce, according to the Ill. Dept. of Employment Security . MPC’s recent report Moving at the Speed of Congestion points to one reason why Illinois’ unemployment rate is at its highest level since June 1992: companies cannot afford to create jobs when they’re paying for unprecedented traffic congestion on our roads.

The report shows Chicago-area gridlock increases labor costs for local employers, impeding the creation of some 87,000 jobs a year in metropolitan Chicago. The freight industry alone loses $1 billion a year due to congestion. Solving the region’s traffic woes starts with identifying a new state capital plan to fund roads, bridges, transit and schools, and basing that plan on a criteria-based system for selecting projects that will provide the biggest bang for the buck.

Learn more about regional congestion and its effects on our economy and quality of life by reading Moving at the Speed of Congestion. Proposals for solving the region’s congestion dilemma are outlined in the companion report, Putting Illinois Back on the Map . Contact Peter Skosey, vice president of external relations, at 312.863.6004, or .

New Housing 1-2-3 Workbook Helps Community Leaders Meet Housing Goals

From sky-high foreclosure rates to falling home values, communities across the region are struggling to maintain and diversify their housing stocks. Housing 1-2-3 can help. The free workbook is the fourth installment in the award-winning 1-2-3 community planning series, from the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus and MPC. The book will debut Friday, Sept. 26, at the Illinois Municipal Conference. The workbook offers local case studies and expert advice to help local officials and community leaders looking to:

• Assess local housing stock, determine community housing goals, and identify the strategies and tools needed to create a healthy mix of housing options at a range or price points.

• Preserve existing affordable homes, both rental and for-sale, to stabilize and maintain community character.

• Take a pro-active role in property management

• Build community acceptance and understanding of affordable housing options.

• Find the right resources and information to pursue community goals.

• Attract market-rate housing in low-cost communities.

Like the other three books in the 1-2-3 series – Planning 1-2-3, Retail 1-2-3, and Sensible Tools for Healthy CommunitiesHousing 1-2-3 includes real examples of northeastern Illinois communities. To learn more about how communities are using these books to grow and develop, contact Mandy Burrell Booth, 312-863-6018 or .

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