Seattle’s East Link project recently received TIFIA financing from the federal government.
In the Loop is your round-up of what’s going on in the transportation world, posted in conjunction with Talking Transit.
The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) kicked off the new year with the release of our final report on the Logan Square Corridor Development Initiative, a community engagement process we conducted in 2014 in association with 35th Ward Alderman Rey Colón. It recommends several ways to construct transit-oriented development on the plaza above the Blue Line station entrance in the neighborhood, as well as the adjacent parking lot. The report summarizes the insight we gained from neighborhood residents who spent hours of their time developing concept plans for the future of their community.
MPC staff have several events coming up in the next few weeks. On Tuesday, Jan. 27, we’ll host a roundtable in our offices inviting the public to learn more about the challenges to urban resilience related to a changing climate, with guest speakers Kobi Ruthenberg and David Waggonner, who will speak about their respective work in New Jersey and New Orleans. That evening, Mr. Waggonner will speak in Homewood in the South Suburbs about his experience with the recovery from Hurricane Katrina.
On Friday, Jan. 30, I’ll be speaking at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Urban Innovation Symposium—an excellent opportunity to learn about the latest trends in city planning from a local perspective.
Transit-oriented investments are ramping up in Chicago. According to an analysis by Chicago Ctiyscape, 56 percent of new construction dollars and 75 percent of renovation dollars in the city were permitted to areas very close to the rail system in 2014. This suggests significant demand for people to live and work near transit.
Fortunately, the Chicago Transit Authority has a number of improvements planned for this year. Old trains are being phased out; the last train operating on the El built in the 1970s was taken out of service this week. A new station will open on the Green Line at Cermak-McCormick Place, and construction will continue on the Central Loop bus rapid transit project and improvements for the Brown and Purple Lines in River North and Lincoln Park.
The transit authority is likely to see increasing ridership this year despite declining gas prices, much like other cities across the country. In December 2014, our peers in New York City experienced nine days with over six million customers on their Subway system—that’s about eight times the typical daily ridership on the El.
To respond to increasing ridership, several cities are planning new investments. New Toronto Mayor John Tory announced that he would ask riders on the TTC transit system there to pay a 10-cent fare increase in exchange for 10-minute or less headways all day on most of the city’s bus and streetcar lines six days a week. In San Francisco, Mayor Ed Lee announced plans to fund the expansion of the city’s light rail fleet from 150 vehicles today to at least 215 to carry more riders.
And Seattle received great news from the federal government, which financed a $1.33 billion Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan for that region’s 14.5-mile East Link light rail line. That project, which is expected to begin construction this year, would be completed in 2023 and carry 50,000 daily riders between downtown Seattle and its eastern suburbs.