In the Loop: June 27, 2013 - Metropolitan Planning Council

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In the Loop: June 27, 2013

Flickr user kristina k. dymond (cc).

Musicians playing on the Porch at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station.

In the Loop is your round-up of what's going on in the transportation world, posted in conjunction with Talking Transit.

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Union Station is one of the biggest destinations in Chicagoland, with more daily users than Midway Airport. With few amenities and a deficit of active uses, though, it’s an underperforming space. That’s why MPC’s fifth annual placemaking contest, Activate Union Station, will reward $5,000 to the best proposal for how to temporarily remake a space in or around the station. The contest, which was in part inspired by the transformation of a formerly deserted space outside Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, is sponsored by Fifth Third Bank. Applications are due by 5 p.m. July 24.

Similar placemaking is planned on the streets of Chicago thanks to exciting designs for bus rapid transit stations revealed this month. Those BRT stops would be a nice amenity for local neighborhoods and a great alternative for the increasing number of people who choose to share cars or don’t own one at all. But for people who still want to drive, they should be ready for performance parking, already being implemented in cities like Austin, Tex., Boulder, Colo., and Miami, Fla.

elsewhere

The shutdown of the south section of Chicago’s Red Line, which we profiled last month, is on schedule and on budget. That’s good news for the always-tight-budgeted Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago want to know more about your transit commute; take a quick survey and you may win a tablet or gift certificate.

CTA hopes to begin planning for improving services on the West Side branch of the Blue Line, which could see an upgrade similar to that of the Red Line and possibly an extension. Meanwhile, O’Hare International Airport is applying for a federal grant to create a major new transit hub connecting Metra commuter rail, the airport’s people mover, and a rental car center.

Chicago installed permanent new bike lanes on Milwaukee Avenue in order to improve the commutes of one of the city’s most popular cycle corridors. That’s good timing, because the Divvy Bike Sharing system opens this month, with 75 initial stations around the city. New York, which opened its Citibike system last month, now has more than 47,000 annual members ($95 each) and about 30,000 daily riders.

The nation’s infrastructure challenges continued to take center stage as Transportation for America released a report showing significant maintenance concerns in roads and bridges across the country. One out of every nine bridges is structurally deficient. Illinois looks slightly better than the rest of the country, with one of out every 12 bridges suffering from major problems.

Protests across Brazil this month shut down many of the country’s biggest cities, including Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, in part because of the high costs of public transportation. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff responded by canceling proposed fare increases and agreeing to invest $25 billion in improved transit.

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