In 2002, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) made a startling admission: the $140 million spent to rebuild the “Hillside Strangler” left travel times along the Eisenhower Expressway “virtually unchanged.”

Yet IDOT wants to repeat the mistake by widening the Eisenhower through
Oak Park and other West Cook communities.

Fortunately, alternatives exist. The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) is seeking public feedback on a series of alternative means to move people through the corridor.

The most promising alternative is to extend the CTA’s Blue Line. The shortest extension is to

1st Avenue
and the longest would be to Yorktown. A Blue Line extension to
1st Avenue
will help Maywood, but at 0.6 miles does not go far enough. The further west the Blue Line extension goes, the better. The Blue Line has significantly more people-carrying capacity than widening the expressway, so it would allow commuters from DuPage and Kane Counties to get through Oak Park and Forest Park with minimal negative impacts on our communities.

The most harmful projects all involve widening the Eisenhower Expressway. Whether those lanes are designated for carpools (“High-Occupancy Vehicle”) or Bus Rapid Transit or general use is largely immaterial. They all involve significant increases in noise, air pollution, and induced traffic. There is the likelihood of property acquisition in
Oak Park. There may be a negative impact on the Gunderson Historic District. Carpool lanes do little to provide better transportation service to Oak Park, and bus-only lanes would simply compete with the Blue Line.

Other projects under consideration include a Mid-City Bus Rapid Transit Line on

Cicero Avenue
, the Inner Circumferential Rail line to connect O’Hare and Midway Airports, the DuPage J Line Bus Rapid Transit Line, the I-355 Bus Rapid Transit Line, and the Elgin-O’Hare East Extension. In general, these projects neither help nor hurt Oak Park, though expanding transit options anywhere in the region has overall air quality benefits.

The RTA has scheduled a public hearing tonight from
to at Oak Park Village Hall (Council Chambers). Please attend to show your support for sensible transportation alternatives.

Kevin Brubaker, Rick Kuner

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