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Old 03-30-2011, 02:18 PM
 
Location: Denver, CO
816 posts, read 1,260,024 times
Reputation: 319

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Another issue is that the population change data from the US Census (from 2000-2010) indicates that "suburbanization" continues, and continues to sprawl further out. Kendall County nearly doubled in population, while McHenry, Kane, and Will Counties saw sizable increases in population. All while Cook County population decreased slightly, and Chicago's population decreased 7%. Now, an argument can be made that this trend is changing/going to change due to oil price/supply uncertainty. However, if we are determining a transportation model based only on population and population trends, the answer to our congestion problems would mostly rely on vastly expanding highway capacity, including more roads, more highways, and wider highways.

In my opinion, Chicago does need more rail, but we do have limited resources to allocate, and the only way to justify allocating more resources to passenger rail that is primarily intra-city is to make a strong case that the current up-take in gas prices is fueling a gigantic move back to the city, AND that employment in the city is steady if not rising. This is not supported by the official census data, so other evidence would be needed.

It would be justified to expand METRA, including more lines, the long dormant STAR line, more reverse commute express trains, and the expansion of service on some of the undeserved lines, such as the Southwest and North Central line, on the basis of reducing congestion- especially now that we do see some pretty nasty traffic on the reverse commute. This is an artifact of people more and more choosing to live in the city from the time they get their first job out of college until the time they have school aged children and don't want to take part in the massive gamble known as the CPS, regardless of where their work is.
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Old 03-30-2011, 02:24 PM
 
Location: Logan Square
312 posts, read 379,678 times
Reputation: 121
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smedskjaer View Post
So what really is needed are lines from the burbs to the down town areas?
These exist in the form of Metra Commuter lines. Last I heard, Metra was embroiled in corruption charges and was hurting for money like most other municipal services.

Their chief officer stepped in front of a Metra train last year because of it
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Old 03-30-2011, 03:21 PM
 
9,171 posts, read 13,669,824 times
Reputation: 7411
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smedskjaer View Post
So what really is needed are lines from the burbs to the down town areas?
There already are 11 commuter rail lines that radiate out from the downtown area. They carry hundreds of thousands of people on 700 trains a day into and out of downtown with around 240 stations in the system.

They actually did extend two of the lines during the past few years, and do have plans for expanding capacity on two of the lines and building two more lines (one from downtown to the south, and another circle line that would connect multiple lines together at a far distance from downtown).

It's all a matter of money.
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Old 03-30-2011, 04:01 PM
 
Location: Seven Seven Three
434 posts, read 612,719 times
Reputation: 245
From what I have read, the CTA extensions are all just "wishes" as of now. The system is broke (literally and figuratively), so any expansions of the current lines, or additions of new lines are on hold for now. Personally, I don't see too much advantage to expand the Red Line to the southern border of the city. For those that live that far south, the Metra is there to get them downtown. I would much rather see the current lines get fixed and have better service, than to see an extension to 130th Street. It's not very densely populated down there anyways, and to me, just doesn't seem like the proper thing to do with any extra funding that might come out of the woodwork, when a good amount of the existing system is in need of repair. Express buses to the Loop from the 100 blocks would be a better option.

Also, if the Red Line were to get expanded to 130th, what would become of the yard south of 95th Street? I'm also assuming they would need to create a new yard just south of 130th, unless they were to use the yard between Ashland & Halsted, north of 138th Street.
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Old 03-30-2011, 04:54 PM
 
Location: River North, Chicago, Illinois
3,172 posts, read 3,127,504 times
Reputation: 3059
Quote:
Originally Posted by nidex View Post
From what I have read, the CTA extensions are all just "wishes" as of now. The system is broke (literally and figuratively), so any expansions of the current lines, or additions of new lines are on hold for now.
...
It's not as dire as you're implying, especially as long as the economy continues to recover.

And plans aren't all "on hold," for some the necessary studies are still underway. Building rail lines in the U.S. with Federal funding requires a long, drawn-out process that takes years to complete. If progress seems non-existent, it's mainly that most of the projects aren't at funding phases or are of only marginal need so there's no need to rush into them.

It's also worth noting that the highest-traffic "L" station in the entire system is the 95th at the southern tip of the Red Line. Whether you realize it or not, there is demand for rail service there and if the city ups zoning near new stations, there would likely be growth, too. The extension would also simplify and improve bus service in the area, so it would likely induce additional overall CTA ridership from better bus service quality, too. From 95th, the Red Line is also faster than the Metra services that cover a similar area, and definitely has more frequent service.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nidex View Post
Also, if the Red Line were to get expanded to 130th, what would become of the yard south of 95th Street? I'm also assuming they would need to create a new yard just south of 130th, unless they were to use the yard between Ashland & Halsted, north of 138th Street.
I believe the plan is to build a new one. The existing one is already smaller than would be justified for existing Red Line service needs, and is awkwardly sited. A new one is justified regardless of an extension.
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Old 03-30-2011, 05:15 PM
 
Location: River North, Chicago, Illinois
3,172 posts, read 3,127,504 times
Reputation: 3059
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smedskjaer View Post
Can Chicago even grow without expanding the rail? Roads are hitting their capacity daily already. What will it look like in ten years?
Almost none of the CTA rail lines are at true max capacity. The Red Line's north branch comes close at rush hour with current signal capability, but with improvements nearly done to the signaling, additional trains could be added if necessary. Also, for far less than the cost of a new line, the CTA could expand platforms to accomodate 10-car trains on the Red Line, which would give them the potential for nearly a 25% capacity improvement without building any new actual rails.

The extension of the Red Line south will probably happen within the next 10 years. How quickly it happens depends a lot on the economy and, possibly, whether Obama gets re-elected. The other extension that might happen is the Orange Line to Ford City. The Yellow Line extension seems unlikely, unless the North Suburbs want to lead the funding of it themselves.

Other than those, the next serious change in Chicago-area rail will be the reconstruction of most of the route that the Red Line's north branch and the Purple Line's express runs use. This will likely cost around $4 billion, but is pretty necessary. The city may replace most of that elevated structure with a subway, which would eliminate express service, but result in faster regular service and allow new rail with less disruption of existing service. I expect an alternative to be chosen within the next 1-3 years, and construction to start in 5-7 years once funding and a full environmental impact study is completed, with construction taking about 4 years to complete. Which means we probably wouldn't be riding trains on the new tracks for about a dozen years.

The only other rail service that I think stands a chance of getting built in the next 20 years is the proposed Clinton Street subway - or some similar route through the West Loop. There is so much both business and residential growth in the West Loop that providing direct rail service to it is becoming increasingly necessary. If high-speed rail becomes a real national goal, that increases the likelihood of a West Loop Transportation Center, which would incorporate a Clinton Street subway. But even without that, I think there's a pretty strong case to be made for a route that gets people to the jobs in the West Loop, and from the West Loop rail stations to and from the North and South sides. If Chicago's downtown keeps growing (and all evidence says it will), this line will eventually get built - it's more a question of when, than if.

The Circle Line is unlikely to get built anytime soon, because it doesn't seem to really have a compellingly vital need associated with it. It would be nice, but from a needs standpoint, there's not a strong case for it. Especially if the CTA and Metra still don't play well together, since a big part of its justification was improved Metra/CTA rail transfer capability.

Finally, the CTA has a lot of underused rail infrastructure. The biggest problem is that the City doesn't encourage transit-friendly development near stations strongly enough. In fact, in many cases they do things that discourage transit-friendly development near stations. I hope that under Rahm Emanuel's Mayorship, this fundamentally wasteful problem gets remedied.
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Old 03-30-2011, 07:01 PM
 
Location: Chicago
4,094 posts, read 1,273,846 times
Reputation: 688
Do you think the EL will ever be expanded or new lines added?
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Old 03-31-2011, 05:17 PM
 
Location: On the Rails in Northern NJ
12,344 posts, read 13,942,640 times
Reputation: 4254
Quote:
Originally Posted by emathias View Post
Almost none of the CTA rail lines are at true max capacity. The Red Line's north branch comes close at rush hour with current signal capability, but with improvements nearly done to the signaling, additional trains could be added if necessary. Also, for far less than the cost of a new line, the CTA could expand platforms to accomodate 10-car trains on the Red Line, which would give them the potential for nearly a 25% capacity improvement without building any new actual rails.

The extension of the Red Line south will probably happen within the next 10 years. How quickly it happens depends a lot on the economy and, possibly, whether Obama gets re-elected. The other extension that might happen is the Orange Line to Ford City. The Yellow Line extension seems unlikely, unless the North Suburbs want to lead the funding of it themselves.

Other than those, the next serious change in Chicago-area rail will be the reconstruction of most of the route that the Red Line's north branch and the Purple Line's express runs use. This will likely cost around $4 billion, but is pretty necessary. The city may replace most of that elevated structure with a subway, which would eliminate express service, but result in faster regular service and allow new rail with less disruption of existing service. I expect an alternative to be chosen within the next 1-3 years, and construction to start in 5-7 years once funding and a full environmental impact study is completed, with construction taking about 4 years to complete. Which means we probably wouldn't be riding trains on the new tracks for about a dozen years.

The only other rail service that I think stands a chance of getting built in the next 20 years is the proposed Clinton Street subway - or some similar route through the West Loop. There is so much both business and residential growth in the West Loop that providing direct rail service to it is becoming increasingly necessary. If high-speed rail becomes a real national goal, that increases the likelihood of a West Loop Transportation Center, which would incorporate a Clinton Street subway. But even without that, I think there's a pretty strong case to be made for a route that gets people to the jobs in the West Loop, and from the West Loop rail stations to and from the North and South sides. If Chicago's downtown keeps growing (and all evidence says it will), this line will eventually get built - it's more a question of when, than if.

The Circle Line is unlikely to get built anytime soon, because it doesn't seem to really have a compellingly vital need associated with it. It would be nice, but from a needs standpoint, there's not a strong case for it. Especially if the CTA and Metra still don't play well together, since a big part of its justification was improved Metra/CTA rail transfer capability.

Finally, the CTA has a lot of underused rail infrastructure. The biggest problem is that the City doesn't encourage transit-friendly development near stations strongly enough. In fact, in many cases they do things that discourage transit-friendly development near stations. I hope that under Rahm Emanuel's Mayorship, this fundamentally wasteful problem gets remedied.
Not just Chicago , Boston , Philly , Newark , NYC outside the cores of the city very little TOD occurs resulting in blight and wastelands....others have density holes which look funny... Shameful if you ask me...

Last edited by Nexis4Jersey; 03-31-2011 at 05:40 PM..
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Old 03-31-2011, 05:24 PM
 
Location: Hoyvík, Faroe Islands
378 posts, read 323,462 times
Reputation: 153
The consensus is, Chicago's inner city doesn't need any new lines.

But there is a party that says Chicagoland needs public transportation service surrounding stations to connect people to commuter lines.

Are we talking light rail?
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Old 03-31-2011, 05:25 PM
 
2,072 posts, read 2,448,090 times
Reputation: 917
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smedskjaer View Post
Okay. So Chicago already has an extensive subway and El-line. Does Chicago want to expand its rail system though?
The whole subway is only 12 miles long. Not what I would call extensive.
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