I-290 expansion may need higher ramps for Oak Park exits

Village says IDOT isn't answering questions

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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

It's hard to conceptualize what the future of the Eisenhower Expressway will look like, at least from the Village of Oak Park's perspective.

Higher left-side ramps; lower road heights; an extra lane on each side; narrower lane widths; public transit expansion — these are a few of the key concepts listed in the five scenarios that officials from the Illinois Department of Transportation presented at a recent village board meeting. Fifteen meetings and hours of presentations later, however, Oak Parkers and IDOT remain divided on the plans involving interchanges at Austin Boulevard and Harlem Avenue in Oak Park.

It's too early to tell which direction the discussions are headed, but Oak Park officials want IDOT to stay in close contact as decisions are made.

"We still feel there is a significant amount of discussion that needs to be held," said Rob Cole, assistant village manager. "There are still some significant questions unanswered."

The most optimistic scenario has construction on I-290 starting in 2017, pending funding, according to Pete Harmet, IDOT's bureau chief of programming. He said from day one, IDOT has promised its goal was to stay within the trench and not expand the expressway beyond its current reach. That, however, may mean evaluating lane widths and the possibility of acquiring land currently used by the CSX Railroad, which is part of the Eisenhower Transportation Corridor. They have three tracks running through the Oak Park "canyon."

Currently, there's no indication which tracks CSX plans to keep, but Harmet said discussions are in the works to see what could be done to acquire that land for possible expressway expansion. He noted the CSX line adds complex elements to evaluate as IDOT moves forward with its plan.

The CSX trains serve the Ferrara Pan Candy Company, which transports a significant amount of sugar on the railways. An employee of the company said at the village board meeting last week that without the railway, it would be impossible to get the same amount of product distributed.

Still, the rail lines running along the expressway, including the CTA Blue Line, remain just a small portion of the overall discussion of what the Ike will eventually look like from IDOT's perspective.

"In some ways we are talking about concepts, regardless of what's been resolved," Harmet said. The process, taking into account stakeholders and various design alternatives, builds into what IDOT hopes will become a finalized plan in the spring of 2014. "That's really the purpose and scale of what we're doing."

Each step, Harmet said, will become more detailed and will hopefully allow interested parties to better conceptualize the next steps in drawing up the overall design.

The other piece of the puzzle on Oak Parkers' minds are the height of the ramps, which could be closer in height to people's homes, according to the renderings presented in IDOT's recent drawings.

The conceptual drawings provided by IDOT suggest the ramps could be raised as much as 15 or more feet at some spots, which leaves questions about air and noise pollution.

In terms of the overpass, Harmet said, the goal isn't necessarily to simply raise it, but to find "innovative" ways to stay within the footprint.

"Our objective is to stay within something that maintains the status quo with the bridge," Harmet said, emphasizing this would create a more pedestrian friendly crossing and connect the two ends of the overpass better. The interchanges, Harmet said, are just one factor in determining how to improve mobility and safety of the expressway and its surrounding areas.

Overall, besides a potential widening, other aspects that factor into IDOT's decisions include toll carpool lanes, express bus lanes, and an extension of the CTA Blue Line.

"We will add additional detail to these alternatives and preliminary costs," Harmet said. This includes factoring in environmental impacts, which many residents said IDOT did not include in its previous public presentation. "You don't want to start with design and then talk about what the alternatives will be," he explained.

Cole said the village isn't overly confident about IDOT's plans, especially since it doesn't see enough evidence presented as to why the transportation agency thinks left lane ramps are inherently more dangerous than those that exit on the right.

"We remain concerned that they are not appropriately hearing and responding to the questions we raise," Cole said. IDOT, he added, seems fixed on only highway solutions, whereas Oak Parkers would like more focus on transit-oriented options. That way, the problems of encroaching on people's homes who border the expressway would be lessened instead of possibly increased.

Air quality and environmental impacts are among Oak Park's top priorities as the project moves forward. Those concerns tie into the height of the ramps and the expansion of lanes, which IDOT officials say will be part of a future analysis.

"IDOT represents that environmental impacts are done later in the study," Cole said. "That seems backward, the way they do things. … Those types of measures are on the tail end of the study, so they end up being a secondary consideration."

The ramp heights and how they impact the presence of the expressway on Oak Park also remains a concern on Cole's list.

"How much higher would they be?" he said. "I don't know."

Bottom line for Oak Park, he said, is that a lot of questions are being asked but answers aren't coming back. The drawings, he said, do not necessarily convey that the entire project will stay within the roadway as promised.

He's hoping this will change as plans develop.

"We'd like to be able to be an informed participant," Cole said, which involves having an impact on the overall outcome, not just offering policy commitments.

Courtesy of IDOT

Email: anna@oakpark.com Twitter: @AnnaLothson

Reader Comments

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Just Sayin'  

Posted: June 25th, 2012 4:46 PM

Also . . . Red Eye reported today, June 25th also a Trib publication), that 3,943 crimes occurred at CTA rail stations between Jan 1, 2009, and June 13, 2012. Will the real number of crimes please stand up? 10,759 or 3,943 over a longer period? In either case, driving is still more dangerous . . .

Just Sayin'  

Posted: June 25th, 2012 4:01 PM

Yes, Enuf is Enuf, a more balanced discussion would certainly help this study out - it is heavily biased in favor of cars and highways. To illustrate, while Chicago police report 8,885 robberies while people are in or accessing their vehicles (not including another 7,811 in alleys) it includes only 1,874 on CTA property during the same period of analysis. Quoting 10K plus crimes without a basis for comparison isn't quite the level playing field you indicate that you'd prefer. Cars are dangerous.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: June 24th, 2012 10:56 AM

While I am a regular user of the Blue Line and generally support mass transit, I would like a more balanced discussion of safety and affordability. While it is true there is minimal risk of CTA crashes relative to vehicular crashes on I290, there have been more than 10,700 crimes (robbery, theft, battery) reported on the CTA during 2009-11 (Chicago Tribune, June 24, 2012), which is a safety concern not shared by I290 vehicles. Also, the $4.50 r/t CTA fare is not inexpensive.

Just Sayin'  

Posted: June 22nd, 2012 11:44 AM

JBM: Yes, I'd agree that Chicago is very interested in what happens on I-290. To place that interest in perspective, though, I suspect they would be much more interested in getting their proposed Red Line south extension funded, or perhaps their emerging intracity BRT system funded than they are interested in seeing a partial highway expansion on I-290. There is a significant focus in Chicago on sustainable transportation - ever-increasing parking fees, new bike lanes, etc., suggest policy view.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 22nd, 2012 11:24 AM

Kyle, Just Sayin', and Michael O - I have not studied the IDOT plan at all. All I know is what I have heard from the WJ and the posters. My comment about Chicago's view of the expansion was a cautionary view for OP. Chicago is the big player in this decision and business revenues are the key to their position. Naperville, Schaumburg, etc. continue to expand and attract both business and retail development. My bet is that the highway is a big concern for Chicago and will be an active player. My view is that Chi would support expansion, but as seen in the post -- I could be wrong. I find Michaels statement interesting. Just Sayin' has filled in info on IDOT's plans, or lack thereof, but has OP considered all aspects of the plan in terms of impact on the village beyond traffic. It is also worth keeping in mind that OP should be careful about spending any money on this project until more is revealed by IDOT.

Just Sayin'  

Posted: June 22nd, 2012 10:29 AM

@Actual Transit: Also, to appreciate why the discussion necessarily involves transit service presence and reliability west of Forest Park, see the slide IDOT presented at roughly 7:00 in the 6/11 Village Board meeting - it depicts where I-290 traffic comes from. If transit can't effectively serve the places where people are coming/going from/to, then it is not a viable option, leaving only driving. The meeting video is online @Village Board TV


Posted: June 22nd, 2012 10:27 AM

Keep in mind that there is only funding for study...not money for final design or actual construction. "For the I-290 Study, the purpose of the project is to provide an improved transportation facility along the I-290 Eisenhower expressway multi-modal corridor. The five specific needs identified for the project include: improve regional and local travel, improve access to employment, improve safety for all users, improve modal connections and opportunities, and improve facility deficiencies."

Just Sayin'  

Posted: June 22nd, 2012 10:12 AM

Well, Michael, they've actually clarified it several times: They say it's a safety project. Funny, though, that is also what they said of the Hillside Strangler project, yet CMAP writes in its analysis of the Hillside Strangler projects effectiveness in achieving the objective: "Indeed, the analysis of six years of crash data shows the level of reduction in crashes was no greater on the improved section of I-290 than the unimproved section of I-290." Guess we should spend billions 2 do it again.

MichaelO from Oak Park  

Posted: June 22nd, 2012 9:47 AM

Just Sayin', Just what is IDOT's goal?

Just Sayin'  

Posted: June 22nd, 2012 9:13 AM

Keep in mind, too, that people are actually moving back into the city and other places well-served by transit, especially younger folks that, when surveyed, have increasingly expressed preference for car-free (or limited car use) lifestyles. Add to that the simple fact that Boomers are coming to points in their lives where driving is either not an option or a poor one, and the gap between existing transit service and that which is needed grows even larger.

Just Sayin'  

Posted: June 22nd, 2012 9:08 AM

@Actual Transit: How many "transit activists here" use transit??? Also, with respect to METRA saving ten minutes for only $.75 more, how much would someone that gets on the Blue Line at Harlem by walking there save by getting to the UP West line in terms of time and money? Blue Line wins, obviously. That also happens to be one of the many fallacies supporting an HOV/HOT lane addition - the rather tenuous claim of time savings. If one has to wait for, pick-up/drop-off people, its a negative sum.


Posted: June 22nd, 2012 9:06 AM

John, I gotta disagree with you and here's why...business moving to the burbs has nothing to do with needing freeway. The reason Chicago saw an exodus of people last century had everything to do with those same highways. The love affair with the car. Tax rates. White flight. The history of public housing. The loss of manufacturing. Shifting immigrant patterns. Expanding the freeways doesn't solve the underlying problem of people not wanting to live in the city and jobs following the population.

Just Sayin'  

Posted: June 22nd, 2012 8:59 AM

The problems with expansion, JBM, are multi-fold. What IDOT is proposing is insufficient to actually solve congestion - that is not their goal, and their own data indicate that I-290 will remain congested multiple hours per day *after* they invest billions to construct their ill-fated projected. Also, & the record is clear on this, the effectiveness of capacity enhancements (if there is any at all from day one), erodes rapidly - in as little as three years, data shows. Chicago doesn't want cars.

Just Sayin'  

Posted: June 22nd, 2012 8:54 AM

Kyle is dead-on when he writes, "We as a region need to be saying we're done building more freeways so adjust your life accordingly."

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 21st, 2012 10:40 PM

Kyle - there is an elephant in the room with clout that disagrees with you -- the City of Chicago. If the highways are not expanded, the ever increasing congestion will result in businesses moving to the burbs. My comment is not an endorsement of widening, but a recognition that there are more players than Oak Park in the game.


Posted: June 21st, 2012 5:37 PM

Actual, I agree that Oak Park shouldn't be the one doing the finger wagging. Strike that...ONLY one. Know what I mean? We as a region need to be saying we're done building more freeways so adjust your life accordingly. The 20th century move to the suburbs and then exurbs was unfortunate and something we're still dealing with. It's kinda also about low density housing, strip malls, and fast food. If people want to live in, say, Naperville that's cool just don't complain about the commute.


Posted: June 21st, 2012 5:28 PM

Actual, I have taken the Metra, but Union Station isn't nearly as convenient for me so it doesn't really save me any time. The inflexibility of departure times is also an issue. Nevertheless, it is a viable option for some.

Actual Transit Rider from Oak Park  

Posted: June 21st, 2012 5:14 PM

And Kyle, I do agree with you about lifestyle choices. But the Ike has run thru OP for 50 yrs. Anyone below the age of 70 here who lives near the expressway or lives in a town split by one has made that lifestyle choice. And I don't buy that Oak Park (pop 50000) gets to be the self-appointed finger wagging Richard Simmons imposing a transportation gastric bypass for the entire area (pop 9 million).


Posted: June 21st, 2012 5:11 PM

I think every 12 min is quite reasonable...if it kept up that schedule all day 7 days a week. The problem is off-peak and weekends. Not to mention that you get spit out at a train station fairly far across the loop from where you want to be probably. And bikes/strollers on all the trains (L too) are a hassle.

Actual Transit Rider from Oak Park  

Posted: June 21st, 2012 4:57 PM

Kyle, during morning rush Metra runs every 12 min on avg. The Blue Line runs every 9-10 min. Even if you survive the harrowing walk to the bleak Harlem Blue Line station and catch your train 3 minutes earlier than Metra, you will still arrive downtown 10 min later than the Metra riders. And Metra is $3.00 vs $2.25 on CTA. Based on the guy below who said he's pay double for an express train, that's a bargain. Makes me wonder how many transit activists here actually use public transit.

Just Sayin'  

Posted: June 21st, 2012 3:19 PM

Like Kyle said, you don't solve your weight problem by buying larger pants - buying a size that is still too small does not help, either, as then you're just lying to yourself . . . IDOT's plan is the bigger pants syndrome. I don't want bigger pants, or bigger pants that are still smaller than what I need so that I feel better about buying them. I want to address the underlying weight problem because it is killing me - and you, too.

Just Sayin'  

Posted: June 21st, 2012 3:13 PM

Bottom line is that we have deployed the same strategy for solving congestion and improving safety for several decades without success. We have the most extensive modern road network on the planet. So, we should keep doing the same thing? Congestion relief and safety are the red herrings, folks. I think the majority of people are smarter than such a blatantly transparent ploy. It hasn't worked in 50 years, but will tomorrow - more lanes will solve the problem. Really?? C'mon.

Just Sayin'  

Posted: June 21st, 2012 3:05 PM

Actual Transit: Is it all that difficult to accept that a transit network is necessary to make it competitive with a road network? Seems quite logical, actually. A lot more logical, in fact, than a plainly ridiculous concept involving spending billions to add a lane at one point and take away a lane just east of it. What's even better is that that traffic is dumped out where nobody's trip starts or ends. Great plan. You can't be for real . . . lol.


Posted: June 21st, 2012 3:04 PM

PS Isn't the traffic congestion problem pretty much the same problem as Americans being fat? We make horrible choices about how to live then want to complain about the consequences of those bad choices? The answer is don't go through the fast food drive thru then drive to work. lol


Posted: June 21st, 2012 3:00 PM

Actual Transit Rider from Oak Park; Thank you for referring people to the Metra and for citing the extension of the Blue Line as a red herring. Nothing would prohibit the extension of the EL to coincide with the widening of the IKE. Years ago IDOT said that Phase I would be extending the Blue Line into Maywood at the ComEd property could be completed in 5 years. More than that now and what has been accomplished? But, about the rudeness of fellow riders, that isn't government's responsibility


Posted: June 21st, 2012 2:59 PM

Actual, the problem with Metra is it's infrequent and more expensive. But I will at least give you that public transit isn't the magic solution. Neither is expanding the Ike. Maybe the real issue here is where people have chosen to live & work & our region has an overall transportation problem given the population. Nothing is going to solve that without lifestyle changes. Everyone gets a choice--crowded 290 or smelling the urine on the Blue Line. Take your pick! lol

Actual Transit Rider from Oak Park  

Posted: June 21st, 2012 2:33 PM

Amusing story from this Tues morning's rush hour Green Line commute: Woman in loud conversation with her seatmate "I don't give a f*#% about...". Same woman noticing young girl sitting on her mom's lap across the aisle "Oh, I'm sorry baby...". Same woman, continuing conversation with her seatmate, 5% less loudly: "I don't give a f*#% about...". Lovely.

Actual Transit Rider from Oak Park  

Posted: June 21st, 2012 2:25 PM

Oak Park already has express train, Marion St to downtown Chicago in 18 minutes, zero to one stop in between. Clean, safe, fast. It's called the Metra. Logistically or physically (tracks and stations), the Green Line isn't set up for express trains.

Actual Transit Rider from Oak Park  

Posted: June 21st, 2012 2:19 PM

Just sayin: So now you are just sayin' that we must have public transit between Naperville and Schaumburg to solve the Ike's problems? The red herring of the Blue Line Extension and reverse commuters has been exposed for what it is. At some point it becomes transit for transit's sake and activism for activism's sake. What's next on the obstructionist agenda?


Posted: June 21st, 2012 1:49 PM

An express train would probably help Oak Park home values too. I don't take the train much because it isn't that much of a difference time wise for me to drive to the loop and as long as I get in before 10am, only $10 bucks to park in a garage. however, I'd take the El more frequently if it were more of a pleasant ride through the west side. Face reality, West Side and OP are two different worlds/classes.

Carl Aneman  

Posted: June 21st, 2012 1:45 PM

Violet After two tours in the Middle East, I can assure you that I have seen and done worse than the vast majority of people on the green line. Trying to be liberal cool by thinking that the people from Central to Laramie are harmless is just being stupid in my opinion. These people are not like you despite what you think. Read the crime section and guess by the names and pictures where these animals are from. They love people like you and your Iphones

Violet Aura  

Posted: June 21st, 2012 1:39 PM

EDIT: "frequenting parks..."

Violet Aura  

Posted: June 21st, 2012 1:38 PM

LOL- I knew that most of the bleeding hearts are also hypocrites. Scared little rabbits who won't ride the El? And @ Done: sorry that it doesn't meet your sensibilities to see someone passed out. Maybe you should stick to the sterility of Oak Brook or something...And it's a load of caca. I haven't seen many people passed out and besides, I've seen people passed out in OP parks and other public places. That doesn't mean I'd stop frequently parks!

Carl Aneman  

Posted: June 21st, 2012 1:36 PM

I really enjoy the thief, drunks, hoes and thugs from Laramie to Central. Nothing like a third generation welfare mom feeding their kid apple juice and flaming hot cheetos for breakfast to make you feel good about donating to all the educational programs that you think can change genetics. I also like to try and find all the bikes that I have stolen over the years from the train or see the guys with copper gutters hanging from shoping carts and believing that "they really pushed that all the w

Former rider  

Posted: June 21st, 2012 1:34 PM

Russ, running express trains is a brilliant idea. I'd pay double too.


Posted: June 21st, 2012 1:28 PM

Green line would see a massive influx of riders if it ran express from Austin to the new Morgan stop during rush hour. Heck, I'd pay double fair to be able to skip the west side.

Former Blue Line rider  

Posted: June 21st, 2012 10:59 AM

I used the L to get downtown at 6:30 am and returned home in the late afternoon just before rush hour. The train is well used during these periods though not packed. My point is, if CTA wants riders, money should be spent on personnel or security to patrol the cars. I originally located near the Blue Line specifically so I could commute on it.

Tom from River Forest  

Posted: June 21st, 2012 9:41 AM

Gee, who would ever have guessed that Done from Oak Park was a Ted Nugent fan?

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: June 21st, 2012 9:34 AM

I wish I could play some Ted Nugent through my phone and sit next some jackwagon playing his "n^#$@& at the club" crap through his phone and let them enjoy my music.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: June 21st, 2012 9:31 AM

LMAO - I ride the green line five days a week. I don't blame people for not wanting to ride. My wife and kids used to come downtown to meet me for lunch sometimes and we have decided to skip it because of the scum that ride it at that time. And I'm tired of being asked for money, people passed out in the seats, the trash, the lack of respect people have when kids - many times their own kids - in watching language on the train, and the joy of some dumbass playing that awesome rap through a phone.

Just Sayin'  

Posted: June 21st, 2012 8:11 AM

As a multi-modal commuter, what offends me most is the level of discourtesy and blatant aggression shown on the roads. Drivers cutting people off, using vehicles as tools to intimidate, etc. - not just on the highway, but on arterials, too. The stress associated with driving is a killer - figuratively and literally. Drive during peak or the el? Also, these el stories don't match my experiences during peak travel periods, which are the periods the proposed major investment is trying to address.


Posted: June 21st, 2012 6:12 AM

Former Blue Line Rider, I also grew up using the el and am really frustrated by the cursing on the el. It's really over the top.

Former Blue Line rider  

Posted: June 20th, 2012 5:12 PM

LMAO,I am a 50-year-old woman who commuted via public transport all my life. I am not a pansy coward, but in recent years grew tired of people making a sport of intimidating me, so I bought a car. Also stopped taking my kid on the L due to all the loud cursing we were usually treated to.

Transit Thug  

Posted: June 20th, 2012 5:10 PM

(correction) @LMAO. Looking forward to bumping into you on the EL in the near future.

Transit Thug  

Posted: June 20th, 2012 5:07 PM

@LMAO. Looking forward to bumping into on the EL in the near future.

Just Sayin'  

Posted: June 20th, 2012 5:03 PM

Actual Transit Rider: "The problem was the dearth of transit on the western end." I agree. Transit can't work if there's not a reliable network. We've built-out an impressive road network and it is time to invest in alternatives to driving, not continue expand the road network. There are roughly 9 miles between METRA lines as near as Elmhurst and Hinsdale. There is a transit desert between. No high quality alternative exists between Naperville, Oak Brook, and Schaumburg. $ to go 2 more roads???


Posted: June 20th, 2012 4:44 PM

Realist said: "Unless it is rush hour, most people I know refuse to ride." You need to get some new friends, ones who aren't a bunch of pansy cowards.

Actual Transit Rider from Oak Park  

Posted: June 20th, 2012 4:42 PM

Heck, even when I worked in faroff Schaumburg, I could get nearly there, safely and quickly, via the Metra's Elgin service from nearby, walkable Galewood. The problem was the dearth of transit on the western end. I resorted to leaving my car at the Roselle Station overnight during the week. Similarly, the vaunted westbound Blue Line extension would just be a bridge to a transit desert for westward commuters.

Actual Transit Rider from Oak Park  

Posted: June 20th, 2012 4:40 PM

The Ike-tivists seem to think if they shout "Blue Line Extension" enough times, people will forget the aforementioned quicker, safer Metra West Line, running in parallel just a mile from the Blue Line and serving Maywood, Melrose Park, Bellwood, Elmhurst, Lombard and points west. As far as the reverse commute, getting west via transit is not the problem, getting around once you're there is.

Just Sayin'  

Posted: June 20th, 2012 4:36 PM

Hey, Micheal O - they could also replace it as is. Then, they could fix deteriorated elements without wasting money on adding a lane or moving ramps. If they insist on spending billions to actually improve the corridor - to actually address real transportation problems - I'm just sayin' that they need to identify the right problems and build, either by themselves or with others, something that can actually deliver what they claim and represent. Not too much to ask, really.

Just Sayin'  

Posted: June 20th, 2012 4:29 PM

Well, Michael O, that's all well and good but guess what? IDOT isn't planning to fix anything. They're planning to repeat the same mistakes - and worse - that they made on the Hillside Strangler. Is their mission to where blinders tighter than Secretariat's and spend money like a drunken sailor on shore leave? Let's hope they have some accountability for taxpayer dollars. We don't need another Illinois Top 10 Transportation Blunder, as the Strangler project was labeled by the Tribune.

MichaelO from Oak Park  

Posted: June 20th, 2012 4:17 PM

Just Saying, What are you saying? Don't drive, take the el? Don't drive, stay at home? Drive but just not on IDOT road ways? A couple of things: IDOT is not the CTA or the RTA. Wishing things were different isn't an argument. Shunting commuters into public transit rather than fix a broken stretch of highway is not the issue. Fixing a broken stretch of highway is the issue.

Just Sayin'  

Posted: June 20th, 2012 3:51 PM

@Realist: If safety were the issue, people would stay away from driving - far away. The stats clearly show driving is the safety threat, not taking transit. Not only crashes, but also safety threats in public garages, remote parking lots, and the rest. Don't ride the Blue Line because of safety?? Work from home, I suppose, 'cause driving places you at much greater risk than riding the Blue Line.

Just Sayin'  

Posted: June 20th, 2012 3:47 PM

Incidentally, RTA concluded: "All [I-290 corridor] destinations were considered accessible by automobile given the extensive network of roadways in the Corridor. Ideally, such a measure would reflect the availability of a full-fledged multimodal network of highway and transit to serve all potential combinations of movements in a region, but clearly transit is not equally available to all Corridor travel markets." Yes, that is clear. Why doesn't IDOT see it? 2 many roads 2 build . . .


Posted: June 20th, 2012 3:39 PM

SAFETY is the number #1 reason for under capacity. Unless it is rush hour, most people I know refuse to ride. They would rather take Metra and get downtown unscathed.

Just Sayin'  

Posted: June 20th, 2012 3:33 PM

Also, the reason the Blue Line runs under capacity is because O'Hare drives the service level. Thus, there is extra capacity on the Forest Park branch just waiting for it to be used. It isn't attractive to use because it is hard for people living and working west of it to get to/from their destinations relying on anything but the automobile. That needs to change - transit needs to be competitive with driving, and not just Forest Park and east.

Just Sayin'  

Posted: June 20th, 2012 3:28 PM

@Actual Transit Rider: The traditional commute is not the only one the corridor must serve. According to RTA, transit has over a 50% market share for the traditional commute. By comparison, it is no-existent headed in the opposite direction. Not only would more people use the Blue Line if westbound transit were improved, but more would use it eastbound, as well - no longer needing to drive all the way into Forest Park before getting on reliable transit.

Former Blue Line rider from Oak Park  

Posted: June 20th, 2012 1:58 PM

The CTA could improve Blue Line usage by adding back conductors to ensure the safety of passengers.

Actual Transit Rider  

Posted: June 20th, 2012 1:51 PM

.... disincentive.

Actual Transit Rider from Oak Park  

Posted: June 20th, 2012 1:49 PM

Perhaps the undercapacity of the Blue Line reflects the multitude of alternative transit options that those hyperfocused on the "ditch" have blinded themselves to. Just a mile north are the Green Line and Metra and just 1.5 miles south is the Pink Line. When I lived on Wash Blvd, halfway b/w the Blue and Green Lines, I most often took the Green even though the Blue was quicker and closer to my South Loop office. The unpleasant expressway setting of the Blue Line was that much of a dis

Just Sayin'  

Posted: June 20th, 2012 1:16 PM

Finally, Mitigation: Avoid --> Minimize --> Repair or Restore --> Reduce over time --> Compensate "This ordered approach to mitigation is known as 'sequencing' and involves understanding the affected environment and assessing transportation effects throughout project development. Effective mitigation starts at the beginning of the NEPA process, not at the end. Mitigation must be included as an integral part of the alternatives development and analysis process." Federal law, not local preference

Just Sayin'  

Posted: June 20th, 2012 1:14 PM

The NEPA process is intended to help public officials make decisions that are based on understanding of environmental consequences, and take actions that protect, restore, and enhance the environment. -- 40 CFR ? 1500.1(b): Purpose

Just Sayin'  

Posted: June 20th, 2012 1:13 PM

@A Resident: NEPA requires (in order): Avoiding the impact altogether; Minimizing impacts by limiting the degree or magnitude of the action and its implementation; Rectifying the impact by repairing, rehabilitating, or restoring the affected environment; Reducing or eliminating the impact over time by preservation and maintenance operations during the life of the action; Compensating for the impact by replacing or providing substitute resources or environments -- 40 CFR 1508.20

Just Sayin'  

Posted: June 20th, 2012 1:07 PM

Yes, filling up the existing Blue Line capacity is a far more effective approach than creating added highway capacity that IDOT knows in advance to be inadequate to solve congested. Each of their alternatives leaves multiple hours of congested traffic. Blue Line utilization could be improved by significantly improving bus service, in both the north/south and east/west directions. If quality bus service operated between Naperville, Oak Brook, and Schaumburg with a link to the Blue Line . . .


Posted: June 20th, 2012 8:35 AM

During the June 12th meeting IDOT reps said that the existing Blue Line is only used to 56% of its capacity. What can be done to increase that amount the other 44%. The widening of the IKE does not exclude the extension of the Blue Line, but after Harlem that becomes an issue for Forest Park, Maywood, Broadview, and Bellwood. Go look at the width of the existing berms, Congress and Bataan Drives. It is possible that they can be narrowed allowing for the widening and the railbed for the EL.


Posted: June 20th, 2012 8:02 AM

A Resident, not to pick on you, but I think that's a common misconception floating around is that somehow OP is being too demanding in all this. But the federal guidelines being used to do this study REQUIRE that impact & damage be lessened...including doing nothing as an alternative if that's what ends up being the least harm. It's not just about users, but explicitly is on the lookout for how it may harm neighborhoods to avoid the harm. If that's not possible the directive is to lessen harm.

A Resident from Oak Park  

Posted: June 20th, 2012 12:24 AM

When will Cole and OP learn that they will not get every thing they ask for in this project. It is the best alternative for the users and sometimes the impacts on the surrounding environment are not what they locals want. Did we want the adverse pollution when Oak Park said no the the initial expansion to 4 lanes? No, but the Village got the pollution when they bottlenecked the widening up to Austin. Cole needs to pick and chose his battles for OP knowing that he will not necessarily win those.

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