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There is a better way

Working for a regional organization means I log miles daily. Sometimes that’s on foot, traversing the Loop, taking advantage of its centrality and excellent transit access as a convenient location for MPC to convene our diverse stakeholders.

I also enjoy my time on the road — or riding the rails, if they’re headed my direction — meeting with partners in communities such as Aurora, Chicago Heights, and Palos Hills. I often team up with Kristi DeLaurentiis, whose natural outreach skills led to her promotion earlier this year as MPC’s director of local government and community relations.

It’s on these “field trips,” as my four-year-old daughter calls them, that I appreciate the urgency of MPC’s work to strengthen and coordinate our regional transportation system. I don’t do a daily reverse or suburb-to-suburb commute, but for all who do, I feel your pain. Like you, I’ve been frustrated when trying to map a transit-friendly trip, only to discover it’s impossible, or been steamed when another traffic jam means another missed Little League game. We’re among the thousands of frustrated travelers who think, “There must be a better way!”

MPC is motivated by the fact that we know there is a better way. As the cover story illustrates, we face an historic opportunity to inspire innovative changes to the relentless outward march of Chicagoland’s car-dependent development by redirecting infrastructure investments to unlock economic growth, especially in areas that have been bypassed. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) must lead the way in mapping out the kind of attractive and convenient communities we all want and deserve, while navigating the tough decisions of how and where to invest. Whether in Kane or western Cook County, MPC believes people deserve to live in neighborhoods where walking or biking to the store, school and train is a convenient option.

At its Annual Meeting Luncheon (see pg. 8) in August and subsequent forum in September, MPC asked Illinois’ Republican and Democratic candidates for governor, Judy Barr Topinka and Rod Blagojevich, what they would do, if elected, to invest wisely in housing and transportation, plan sensibly for growth, and reform property taxes and education funding. Both made commitments we support — which we’ll hold them to — but they also reminded us we have more work to do. For excerpts of their remarks, visit MPC’s Web site at

With strong leadership from the Governor’s Office, and the individual and cooperative efforts of CMAP, RTA, state legislators, and organizations such as MPC, we not only can meet our growing transportation needs, but also share in the benefits of new jobs and healthier, walkable communities. Our first test will be the next state capital plan, which the General Assembly will take up this fall or during its spring session. But if we get that right, I’ll have more reason to look forward to “field trips” with the same sense of excitement and adventure as my daughter does hers.

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For more than 85 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has partnered with communities, businesses, and governments to unleash the greatness of the Chicago region. We believe that every neighborhood has promise, every community should be heard, and every person can thrive. To tackle the toughest urban planning and development challenges, we create collaborations that change perceptions, conversations—and the status quo. Read more about our work »

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