Transportation and land use influence each other. Make major changes in one, expect major changes in the other. This is not a new idea. In ancient times, cities were built near bodies of water to allow people and goods to travel. In the 1930s, British town planner Raymond Unwin said, “The aim of the planner must be to place all his parts and buildings in such relation one to the other as to permit the life of the town to flourish with the least possible moving to and fro of goods and persons.”
The Illinois Department of Transportation is looking at major changes to the Eisenhower Expressway. IDOT must also consider transit alternatives, such as a Blue Line extension and upgrades to the Metra commuter rail system. Such investments in transportation infrastructure last a long time.
Transportation systems play three roles: moving people and goods, providing access to adjacent properties, and shaping development patterns. Engineers design expressways to move high volumes of traffic at high speeds, so IDOT recognizes the role the Eisenhower plays in moving people and goods. Expressways do not provide direct access to properties, but interchanges with the local street system accomplish this. It is unclear how much attention IDOT will pay to the role expressways and transit systems play in shaping development patterns. Planners and developers locate high-activity land uses, such as shopping and employment centers, near high-traffic transportation facilities.
With the need to rebuild the Eisenhower Expressway, we have a rare opportunity to provide a better quality of life for future generations. The more of us who provide meaningful input into the planning process, the better the outcome will be. You can download an issue brief on this topic from our Web site, www.CitizensForAppropriateTransportation.org.
Citizens for Appropriate Transportation