Observations on Ike-plan specifics

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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Widening the expressway has a small impact on congestion. There are 17 hours of weekday congestion now. IDOT project congestion would occur 16.5 to 16.75 hours on the general purpose lanes and 4 to 6.5 hours on the managed lanes.

Right-hand side ramps have negative impacts because homes are close to the expressway. Right side ramps move the source of air and pollution closer to homes. They tend to lower property values and property tax revenues. They make the social and visual connections across the corridor worse.

Joint planning is essential because every mode of transportation plays a role. The CTA Blue Line serves Captive Riders (no access to a car) and Choice Riders (access to a car, but choose transit). Wider and better-designed bridges encourage pedestrian and bicycle access.

IDOT has not considered all possible solutions. Lowering the expressway to bring the ramps down to grade level would improve social and visual connections across the expressway. Using part of the CSX right-of-way allows standard 12-foot instead of 11-foot lanes at the Oak Park Avenue Pinch Point. Wider bridges, better use of CTA and Metra lines, and information technology would increase transit ridership and decrease expressway congestion.

IDOT could finish the expressway project years before a Blue Line extension because of different funding sources.

IDOT can manage lanes to optimize traffic flow on the managed lanes or optimize revenues. Ideally, IDOT will optimize traffic but may optimize revenues to get something built.

The CTA's Compact Layout Conceptual Design centers each station under a bridge with a single access point. Current station designs have access at both ends. Two access locations are better. Having stations centered under Austin, Oak Park Avenue, and Harlem would eliminate entrances at Lombard, East, and Circle.

Rick Kuner

Citizens for Appropriate Transportation

Reader Comments

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Chris Goode from Oak Park  

Posted: November 8th, 2013 5:40 PM

@muntz Blue line tracks forming a buffer to the north is an interesting idea but only works if you are leaving the three railroad tracks as a buffer to the residential areas to the south with the highway in between. The right hand exits would be in closer proximity to both sides then they are now but with a deeper ditch that might keep ramps lower longer. Blue line is at center east of OP & want to wants be on the north side of the highway at Forest Park. Not sure what works beyond to Mannheim.


Posted: November 8th, 2013 12:27 PM

@Chris-The entire corridor has right-hand exits. I agree it brings "high speed traffic" closer to residents, but it does so for everyone else as well. If you have a different engineering solution, why not bring it to the table? I have one...shift the Blue Line to the northern-most part of the trench and move I290 south of it (only thru OP).The right-hand exits will then be away from the residential area, easier CTA access (for those north of the corridor). I have innovative ideas...does CAT?

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: November 7th, 2013 2:29 PM

Chris, wishing everyone take the El/Metra from outer burbs is a fantasy. The Ike needs an extra lane. I agree OP needs to get something out of it, but the Ike will get that lane one way or the other. By the way, it only cost me $10/day to park in a garage in the loop (in by 10am). The El is no faster than me driving 290 or back streets and I'll pay the extra in gas/parking to not have to deal with the Westside hoodrats on the Greenline or blue line.

Chris Goode from Oak Park  

Posted: November 7th, 2013 1:58 PM

@GMAB. The IKE is being studied from the circle interchange to Mannheim Road. If the highway is obsolete after over 50 years of use than the Blue Line tracks built at the same time must be in the same condition. The Red Line was just renovated and speeds are improved and that needs to happen all across the El system. How much does it cost to leave your car downtown compared to fare? $27+ for all day parking. Lets put all the Blue Line passengers in cars and see how quickly the Ike clogs up.

GMAB from Reality  

Posted: November 7th, 2013 1:41 PM

@Goode: What is extending the Blue Line to Mannheim going to do? The thing is so slow between OP and downtown it would take people over an hour to get downtown from there. Who is going to do that when you can drive? Be real and stop peddling garbage.

Chris Goode from Oak Park  

Posted: November 7th, 2013 1:18 PM

We can add more and more lanes until we lose another block of Oak Park and the IKE looks like the Dan Ryan and my guess is it will still back up without any useful transportation alternatives. Currently their is a multi-year long wait list for parking spaces at train stations in the western burbs. If a fraction of the money for the expansion was used to make it easier for folks to take the existing train that would help a great deal. As will extending the Blue Line to Mannheim Road & beyond.

Chris Goode from Oak Park  

Posted: November 7th, 2013 1:08 PM

cdonovan thinks that those of us who believe that widening the IKE is not going to solve many problems want IDOT to "fold their tents and go home", but that is exactly his attitude toward those seeking some benefits for Oak Park in the expansion plans. The right-hand exits are going to change the highway's effect on OP dramatically by pushing high speed traffic closer to and at the same level as the residential neigborhoods on each side. OP needs to exert pressure to get something better.


Posted: November 7th, 2013 1:06 PM

Oak Park should get something in return for this, like turning the Ike into a tunnel. Let the polution kill those who sit in it as opposed to those whose town they are driving through. But, Oak Park leadership will capitulate in exchange for little if any benefit.

Chris Goode from Oak Park  

Posted: November 7th, 2013 12:53 PM

Adding a lane was probably always inevitable to eliminate the bottleneck and because that is what IDOT does, but in my experience of seeing 30 years of major highway "improvements" around Chicago we will have the congestion back to current levels within a year of completion of the project. More drivers will choose the route (and more folks will choose to live farther west) until it fills up and slows down like all the other wider highways into the city already do despite added lanes.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: November 7th, 2013 12:39 PM

Hi Enuf - Always felt that the lack of an north south highway in Chicago is the problem. Cicero was under consideration but I guess that died.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: November 7th, 2013 12:26 PM

Traffic projections are based on CMAP's Go To 2040 plan, which also includes population and employment projections. While projections are based on assumptions and probabilities, and subject to scrutiny, the fact remains traffic demand is projected to increase significantly along the I-290 corridor. If adding a 4th lane mitigates congestion until 2040, what are the alternatives? Current congestion for I-290 (Canal?"Wolf) is available at www.cmap.illinois.gov/cmp/scans/290-eisenhower-canal-to-wolf.


Posted: November 7th, 2013 5:45 AM

My take-away from Mr. Kuner is his consistent argument that saving 15 minutes on each trip on the Ike is not worth the expense. I guess IDOT should therefore just fold its tent and go home. Another way to look at that using Mr. Kuner's and IDOT's statistics of 200,00 cars using the Ike everyday is the cumulative savings; that's 50,000 hours a day or over 18 million hours a year in reduced travel time. That is a significant savings and worth the planned improvements.

Embarrassed to be from Oak Park  

Posted: November 6th, 2013 1:17 PM

I'm guessing, based on his 10/22 letter, that he is refering to congestion in the year 2040 based on 27 years of projected growth. Apparently, he no longer feels the need to make that important clarifcation. Honestly, it seems like "CAT" is committed to obstruction at all costs, including their own credibility. Casts doubt on all the unsupported claims in this latest letter. As far as congestion in 2040, don't worry Mr. Kuner, we'll all be drivng flying cars by then.


Posted: November 6th, 2013 12:59 PM

I agree that the CONTEXT behind the congestion #'s is sorely needed. Congestion has many different meanings. For example, let's say expanded-Ike improves a 5 mile stretch from 10mph to 20mph. Both are congested, but one cuts 15 minutes off time elapsed over that stretch. Assuming your original work commute is 60 minutes, that's a 33% improvement and approx 60 hours saved over the course of 1 year. And that's only one-way. So without context, Rick's congestion argument falls a bit flat.

Embarrassed to be from Oak Park  

Posted: November 6th, 2013 12:55 PM

Is this the same Rick Kuner who, in last month's rant, quoted a traffic study that found "Left-side exit ramps had a 90 percent higher crash rate than right-side exit ramps" and then lambasted IDOT for taking 40 years to address the issue. This week, Oak Park property values and sight lines pre-empt the safety of Ike drivers. I guess the question is how many lives of those reviled DuPage County drivers is an Oak Parker's house and view worth?

OP Resident  

Posted: November 6th, 2013 9:10 AM

I am glad to live in a community whose residents care about access to public transportation. But Enuf is right - the numbers provided by Rich are presented in a misleading manner to make it appear that adding a 4th line will not improve the situation much. Adding a 4th lane will remove the only 3-lane bottleneck on the Ike. Less people will ride their cars through oak park streets at rush hour to avoid the traffic, creating less pollution even closer to our homes than higher off ramps.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: November 6th, 2013 7:20 AM

@Rick Kuner ... please define 'congestion' Are you referring to 'Congested Hours per Day' defined as the average number of hours per day during which at least 20% of the vehicle-miles traveled on the instrumented segment is traveling at congested speeds (less than 45 mph)? Also, you only provided the projected congestion relative to widening the expressway. What is the projected congested without widening the expressway?

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