Oak Park needs to be heard on IDOT's Ike plans

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has asked for comments on the Purpose and Need Statement and the Round 2 Alternatives by Monday, May 20, 2013. Please submit written comments to Pete Harmet (Pete.Harmet@illinois.gov) and Mark Peterson (Mark.Peterson@illinois.gov) at IDOT.

Consider the following:

  1. IDOT's Purpose and Need Statement says nothing about the major impacts transportation has on livable communities — a serious omission.
  2. By focusing on transportation criteria, IDOT under-designed their alternatives. To do a fair and comprehensive evaluation, they should include all the environmental, economic, social, and financial impacts.
  3. All four Build Alternatives that IDOT wants to carry into Round 3 widen the expressway. At least one alternative should not widen the expressway. IDOT considered two versions of a multi-modal alternative suggested by Oak Park and Citizens for Appropriate Transportation (CAT) that upgrade and manage transit better, increase accessibility, and do not widen the expressway. Neither version scored in the top four because IDOT excluded important criteria.
  4. IDOT's proposed right-hand ramps at Austin and Harlem will negatively affect residential neighborhoods close to the expressway. Right-hand ramps move the source of air and noise pollution closer to homes.
  5. The village of Oak Park, CAT, and 80+ others submitted written comments to IDOT in June 2012. IDOT did not respond until 10 months later in late April 2013. Does a 10-month response time make you feel IDOT valued your comments?
  6. There are many ways to manage lanes. IDOT has not analyzed most of them.
  7. IDOT committed to a Context Sensitive Solutions process but has never had an architect or urban designer present concepts or designs.
  8. Using projections to the Year 2040, IDOT ranked the 12 Build Alternatives on each criterion from 12 (best) to 1 (worst). Differences among alternatives vary widely. IDOT used this ranking system to calculate averages, a procedure that treats every difference equal to one. Many differences are so small that projections 30 years into the future are unlikely to be helpful in selecting the best solution.

IDOT should revise their alternatives based on lessons learned in Round 2 so that they will perform better in future rounds. For more information, see the CAT website: www:CitizensForAppropriateTransportation.org. You can find IDOT's documents at www.EisenhowerExpressway.com/Information Center/Reports.

Rick Kuner

Citizens for Appropriate Transportation

Reader Comments

6 Comments - Add Your Comment

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Better late than never?  

Posted: May 16th, 2013 10:42 AM

All this bickering about transit vs roads is short-sighted. The larger regional network has to be kept in mind and part of that is encouraging people to think carefully about where they live and work. The population has spread out and with that comes the possibility that you may not have easy expressway or train access if you don't plan your work/home life carefully. Maybe the problem is us, not our transportation options?

Brian Chang from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 16th, 2013 9:13 AM

@Cdonovan2, regarding CTA extension, that may be true and there are also sorts of good reasons for the city to to opposed to it, but I couldn't find anything about it online. I did find this Tribune article from 2/27/13 (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-02-27/news/ct-tl-oakpark-idot-meeting-20130227_1_cta-blue-line-idot-task-force) in which a CTA official "said the CTA is open to working with IDOT on a Blue Line extension in the future." There's also this Sun-Times/Oak Leaves article from 2/26/13 (http://oakpark.suntimes.com/news/18481282-418/cta-could-announce-blue-line-extension-decision-by-fall.html) in which the same official "said the transportation agency hopes to determine within six to eight months if the extension would work." These articles seem to imply that the CTA hasn't yet shut the door to blue line extension. Of course the real problem is finding the money to pay for blue line extension. Then again, there's no money for the Ike reconstruction either.

Cdonovan2  

Posted: May 15th, 2013 9:06 PM

I live in Oak Park, so I too should be heard. I support IDOT's plan to increase the number of lanes as long as it can stay in the existing trench; which IDOT has revealed as part of its plan. so, let's claim victory and move on. For Oak Park to assert opinion outside the Village boundaries is pure hubris. In the 2/28/13 Tribune a rep of the City of Chicago was quoted saying that the CTA will not extend beyond the current lines, especially outside the City boundaries; forget Mannheim.

Brian Chang from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 15th, 2013 5:54 PM

Based on my read of the documents, all four alternatives also include Blue line extension to Mannheim. Frankly, that's better than I expected from IDOT.

MichaelO from Oak Park  

Posted: May 15th, 2013 1:45 PM

Could you please be more specific: in item 3 what important criteria did IDOT exclude? And why do you think it's necessary that IDOT study "major impacts transportation has on livable communities." The Eisenhower is already here. Why not also demand a study of impacts on unlivable communities?

Better late than never?  

Posted: May 15th, 2013 10:52 AM

I was one of the writers who just got a response from IDOT about my questions...I had forgotten that I wrote! To be fair to them, they were already considering and going to use several of the traffic management tools I suggested. The process is definitely flawed and I have low expectations for the result--no matter what they decide to do.

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