In the Loop: September 6, 2013 - Metropolitan Planning Council

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In the Loop: September 6, 2013

Flickr user County Lemonade (cc).

Look both ways when crossing.

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


We’re busy preparing for a public roundtable on development near bus rapid transit, scheduled for September 11—registration’s still open. The event will feature Institute for Transportation and Development Policy’s Annie Weinstock and Walter Hook, as well as Melinda Pollack from Enterprise Community Partners. At MPC, we’ve also been thinking about how to use bike sharing as a path towards community building and what to do when a monorail becomes obsolete.

MPC has taken a position in opposition to the inclusion of the proposed Illiana Expressway on the Chicago region’s long-term plan, GO TO 2040. The project won’t provide the kinds of benefits any major transportation project should offer. Among other problems—such as its failure to relieve congestion and promote economic growth—the Illiana would increase automobile use and likely reduce transit use. Not great results for improving congestion our region.


Illinois Governor Pat Quinn asked the new Northeastern Illinois Public Transit Task Force to consider how to improve the Chicago region’s patchwork of buses, subways and commuter rail lines. On the Task Force are MPC Board members Carole Brown and George Ranney, as well as MPC Regional Planning and Investments Committee member Robert Reiter.

The Task Force was asked by the governor, who argued that the system needs to be streamlined, to provide intermediate recommendations by October 18 and a final report by January. Whether that means merging planning departments, consolidating agencies or something else remains to be seen.

Utah finished up its FrontLines 2015 rail expansion program two years early and $300 million under budget. The project, which was approved by voters in 2006, added a total of 25 light rail miles (on four lines) and 44 commuter rail miles to the Salt Lake City region. Maryland hopes to repeat Utah’s success. The state this week committed almost $700 million for the Baltimore Red Line, a 14-mile light rail corridor that could cost $2.5 billion, as much as the entire FrontLines program.

The U.S. Department of Transportation, now headed up by new Secretary Anthony Foxx, began to unveil its TIGER grants for 2013. The grants, which are distributed based on a competitive evaluation of transportation projects around the country, amount to about $474 million this year. They’ve been distributed since 2009, and they usually requirea local match.

The Chicago region’s been a winner in the past, taking in funding for the CREATE freight rail project, a new 95th Street terminal for the Red Line, repairs on the CTA Blue Line, and a bike share system. The region has been less lucky this time around, but others across the country—including Springfield, Ill., which will build a new underpass with the funds—have benefited mightily.

Seattle and Kansas City received TIGER funds to introduce new rail lines. Duluth, Baltimore and Tucson plan to upgrade their ports. New Haven, Raleigh and Rochester will upgrade their passenger rail stations. And Atlanta will receive support for its new Beltline trail.


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