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  #21  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2006, 6:11 AM
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The megabus is cool because the region needs better direction connections, and it's nice to see Chicago recognized as the hub... all part of the plan to absorb the other cities into the empire's hinterland.

They should just double their service fee and say tickets for $2, that asterisk immediately made me think of worse terms than $.50.
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  #22  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2006, 8:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brian_b
Chicago has partnered with a research firm to survey West Loop residents about the proposed Carrol Ave light rail line. They are sliding surveys under doors all over the West Loop...

Anyway... The survey includes a map with the proposed line.

I don't have a scanner, so I made a Google map of it:
http://www.brianbauer.org/maps/Proposal.html
isnt the Ogden Avenue streetcar supposed to use the Carrol Ave ROW to connect the west side with the west loop train stations and navy pier/michigan avenue? i guess it could be the same project...

also, that link just takes me to a google map of chicago, with nothing about a train line added to it...
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  #23  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2006, 2:38 PM
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^Hmm, maybe its your browser? When I view the map I get a blue/purple line marking the route.

---------
This is about CREATE

http://www.chicagotribune.com/busine...i-business-hed

Railroads on track to revival
Freight boom benefits Chicago; tie-ups show infrastructure needs

By Greg Burns

Tribune senior correspondent
Published March 27, 2006

As a 1 1/2-mile-long freight train rumbled past a towering stack of green containers marked "China Shipping" last week, Neil Doyle, aboard his CenterPoint Properties helicopter, swooped in for a closer look.

"That line right there is L.A. to Chicago," he told a pair of Wal-Mart executives riding with him just above one of the world's busier train yards in far southwest suburban Elwood.

After generations of job cuts, consolidation and retrenchment, an old industry is growing anew. Railroads have become hot properties, hauling not only the familiar cargo of coal, grain and domestic products but also the mountain of goods pouring into California ports from Asian factories.

Huge investments in tracks, locomotives, electronic switches and sprawling facilities such as the Elwood hub at the former Joliet Arsenal suddenly make good sense as demand surges and railroad stocks soar.

Chicago stands to reap benefits. Railroads practically created the city in its early days, and it remains the point where East meets West and all six major freight lines come together before heading off again.

An estimated one-third of U.S rail cargo, from corn to clothing, flows through the tangle of track that covers the map of Chicago and its collar counties like spaghetti--creating notorious traffic jams along the way. Trains that take two days to arrive from California might take another two to go a few miles through the Chicago bottleneck.

The industry's boom underscores the need for better infrastructure, but it also raises questions about how much taxpayers should chip in. An ambitious public-private plan that targets the worst of Chicago's train-track entanglements got only a fraction of the federal funding its boosters expected in last year's pork-laden transportation bill.

While the project would help the public by shortening commuting times, improving safety at intersections and reducing exhaust emissions, the $1.5 billion cost presents a big barrier.

"Railroads are the primary economic beneficiaries," said John Gates, retired co-chairman of CenterPoint, which is developing the Joliet Arsenal site. "It's a difficult project for the public sector."

For years, the railroads have threatened to divert traffic from the area to avoid its congestion, but those threats ring hollow in the face of recent investments confirming Chicago's status as the centerpiece of the nation's rail system.

In a matter of months, CSX Corp. is expected to announce plans for another big hub in southern Cook County, industry sources say. That's on top of Union Pacific's giant new hub in Rochelle, Ill., and less-conspicuous local projects undertaken by other lines as well.

At the Joliet Arsenal site run by BNSF Railway Co., which includes the old Burlington Northern and Santa Fe lines, expansion continues on a vast scale.

Last week, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez toured the facility, telling a hometown crowd, "You've got a great advantage." He also voiced confidence in the economy despite the loss of manufacturing jobs in the face of overseas competition.

"This is the future," said Gutierrez, former chief executive of cereal-maker Kellogg Co. "It's all about trading with the rest of the world. This is the best example I can think of."

Construction expands facility

Outside the warehouse where he spoke, construction hummed at a 3.4 million-square-foot Wal-Mart distribution center slated to open this summer. At the rail yard surrounding it, BNSF expects to handle 800,000 containers this year, up from 275,000 in 2004. It might do a million next year, said John Clement Jr., the railroad's senior manager of hub operations.

"We are ahead of the growth," he said. "We know what's coming. We're going to spend the money so we can be there for ourselves and our customers."

The Association of American Railroads expects that this year the major freight lines will invest a record $8.2 billion in new track, buying equipment and improving infrastructure, up more than 20 percent from a strong 2005.

It's a historic shift after many decades when railroads couldn't make enough money to cover their cost of borrowing it, which discouraged capital spending in one of the more capital-intensive businesses.

"My railroad for the first time in maybe half a century will earn its cost of capital," noted Chicagoan Robert Krebs, retired chief executive of BNSF. "It's a vibrant company now."

Though some believe the current railroad boom represents the peak of an economic cycle, others see a longer-term change. After 90 years, the railroads finally have run out of excess capacity. That in turn has restored their ability to raise rates, according to James Valentine, a research analyst for Wall Street giant Morgan Stanley.

"These positive trends in pricing and better returns are likely to continue for years, maybe decades," Valentine said.

Because "all roads lead to Chicago," he added, the region will get a generous slice. "It should receive a disproportionate benefit from the railroads' resurgence."

To a degree, the industry owes today's recovery to a drastic deregulation plan implemented a quarter-century ago.

The 1980 Staggers Rail Act came in the midst of severe financial troubles for the industry.

The government had prevented railroads from setting their rates, closing unprofitable tracks and consolidating networks. Service was terrible, and long-haul truckers gained market share.

Deregulation went hand-in-hand with additional consolidation. Major freight lines once numbering in the dozens combined into the mere half-dozen left today. Employment plunged from 458,000 when Congress approved Staggers to 165,000 as of 2005.

That difficult period left scars, including strained relations with workers and ultracautious management.

Over time, the railroads have increased efficiency by adopting so-called intermodal systems, which enable freight to move from point of origin to distribution destination without being removed from a trailer or giant container. It is more reliable and cheaper than transport over long stretches of highway.

Demand for the coal used to fuel power plants grew as well, and grain shipments remained a steady and important source of railroad profits.

The promise of continued growth makes straightening out Chicago's rail network all the more urgent. But the region's $1.5 billion public-private plan lost its political champion with the retirement in January 2005 of Rep. William Lipinski, a Chicago Democrat known for his transit clout. Just recently the plan suffered another blow when Canadian National Railway Co. withdrew from it.

Because none of the plan's initial construction projects would benefit its line, CN could not justify putting up money for it, a spokesman said. It might rejoin later, he added.

Indeed, the plan is far from dead. The $100 million in federal funding it managed to obtain, coupled with support from the other five railroads, has paid for mapping, surveying and engineering work in anticipation of eventual funding.

Yet it could be stuck in neutral for some time.

Not a priority

"The state has higher priorities, the city has higher priorities, the railroads individually have higher priorities, and it's still needed," said Jim LaBelle, deputy director at Metropolis 2020, a civic group backing the measure.

Meantime, out at the Joliet Arsenal site, BNSF's Clement is doing what he can to keep up with demand. He is adopting electronic systems for speeding the flow of some 2,500 trucks that visit the facility each day, using a software program designed specifically for rail-yard management. Also on the way: global positioning system technology for tracking the thousands of containers piled high on the sweeping expanse of blacktop Clement calls "the parking lot."

The other railroads are on the move too. CSX expects to add 3,500 to its 30,000-plus workforce this year, said spokeswoman Kim Freely. It is increasing capacity by adding 10,000-foot sidings every 15 miles or so on its Chicago-to-Florida run, which will enable slower trains to pull over as needed. Freely confirmed that CSX is looking for a new intermodal site south of the city but declined to elaborate or comment on timing. It has two such sites in the Chicago area.

One emerging threat: Re-regulation. Some coal and chemical shippers, feeling burned as the railroads flex their newfound power to raise freight rates, have started complaining to Congress. It's a struggle that has flared on and off for more than 150 years, and it could flare anew as these old companies continue shifting into a higher gear.
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  #24  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2006, 4:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rivernorth
isnt the Ogden Avenue streetcar supposed to use the Carrol Ave ROW to connect the west side with the west loop train stations and navy pier/michigan avenue? i guess it could be the same project...

also, that link just takes me to a google map of chicago, with nothing about a train line added to it...
It must be the same project. This survey actually doesn't name the project. It just says proposed transitway.

The link has a line drawn on the map. If you're not getting the line, I don't know what the cause is. It works for me in Safari and Firefox. Are you using IE?
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  #25  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2006, 6:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiArchie
From the looks of the skematic the old freight bridge by the Mart will be reused. I can't imagine how often that thing would have to raised and lowered in the summer (damn architecture tours ).

But I'm guessing that bridge was fixed years ago, so a new one would be in order. Geez that just sounds like a billion dollars not to mention another loop flood.

But getting from the train stations to the Mag Mile via light rail would be much better than that silly trolley currently in use.
They'll have to rebuild that bridge for the project, thats one of the major capital costs along with figuring out how the route gets there to begin with. The route given crosses the tracks coming north out of Union Station just north of Clinton and Fulton, which obviously won't work during rush hours as a perpendicular grade crossing. Similarly, there's a huge embankment just east of there with the tracks coming north out of the Ogilve/CNW Train Station. So how to navigate all that, avoiding rail crossings, to get to a rebuilt bridge? Maybe TransitEngr could fill us in.
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  #26  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2006, 8:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wanderer34
The South Shore needs the development, not to mention a supertall. Does this Megabus really cost a dollar??? It sounds similar to the Chinatown bus in the NE.
except hopefully someone working for the company will speak english.

after visiting with a friend in DC and taking a chinatown bus up the NYC for the weekend I was glad to see an equivilant around here. I'd like to see Madison on the list of cities.

Last edited by Liz; Mar 28, 2006 at 12:26 AM.
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  #27  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2006, 10:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brian_b
It must be the same project. This survey actually doesn't name the project. It just says proposed transitway.

The link has a line drawn on the map. If you're not getting the line, I don't know what the cause is. It works for me in Safari and Firefox. Are you using IE?
Yeah, i was using IE, and it wouldnt show up. I fired up firefox, and the line shows up for it now, so its all good.

Yeah, this might be a different project. The Ogden Avenue streetcar starts at Navy Pier, taking Illinois to LaSalle, then taking the old streetcar tunnel to the Carrol Ave right of way, going over the river in the old rail bridge, going down Clinton Ave to Randolph (using the divided side lanes that Randolph has for a short stretch in the West Loop) to Ogden, then using Ogden's divided side lanes all through the west side to Cermak Ave, using Cermak's extra side lanes (used for diagonal parking now) through Cicero and Berwyn, and terminating/turnaround at North Riverside Mall. Very extensive and possible project... but funding never comes through for cool things like this, heh.

Quote:
They'll have to rebuild that bridge for the project, thats one of the major capital costs along with figuring out how the route gets there to begin with.
The bridge functions just fine, actually. Its an active railway. Union Pacific has a locomotive travel over the bridge once or twice a year to keep its legal status active. It leads nowhere nor serves a purpose anymore in terms of frieght rail anymore, however.
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  #28  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2006, 11:30 PM
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When I was younger I always thought about an express big city downtown to big city downtown bus service but I never thought it would actually happen . I looked at the schedules and it is possible to go on just a day trip to many of these cities (leaving Chicago in the morning and returning back late at night) specifically Milwaukee, Indianapois, and St. Louis. I have never been to Indianapolis and would like to check it out, also when I lived downstate it was relatively easy to get to St. Louis and always thought that moving back to Chicago would mean I wouldnt be able to go back there but now I can , then of course Milwaukee is super close and I will actually go to their much advertised summerfest or just go to Milwaukee for the hell of it.
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  #29  
Old Posted Mar 28, 2006, 1:05 AM
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Summerfest is awesome. Me and some friends got kicked out last year's due to a drunken brawl. I still think the cops were against us because we were from Chicago. Oh well, still had a blast
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  #30  
Old Posted Mar 28, 2006, 1:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rivernorth
The bridge functions just fine, actually. Its an active railway. Union Pacific has a locomotive travel over the bridge once or twice a year to keep its legal status active. It leads nowhere nor serves a purpose anymore in terms of frieght rail anymore, however.
OK. I've heard that it would have to rebuilt as part of this project, for whateveer reason.
Quote:
When I was younger I always thought about an express big city downtown to big city downtown bus service but I never thought it would actually happen . I looked at the schedules and it is possible to go on just a day trip to many of these cities (leaving Chicago in the morning and returning back late at night) specifically Milwaukee, Indianapois, and St. Louis. I have never been to Indianapolis and would like to check it out, also when I lived downstate it was relatively easy to get to St. Louis and always thought that moving back to Chicago would mean I wouldnt be able to go back there but now I can , then of course Milwaukee is super close and I will actually go to their much advertised summerfest or just go to Milwaukee for the hell of it.
We were supposed to have high-speed rail (110mph) between Chicago and STL functioning at some point this decade which would have theoretically made this possible. Not sure what happened with that.

But I doubt Amtrak would have gotten you there for under $2 each way!
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  #31  
Old Posted Mar 28, 2006, 3:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rivernorth
Yeah, i was using IE, and it wouldnt show up. I fired up firefox, and the line shows up for it now, so its all good.
Strange... I'm just using the Google Maps API, I would figure it would work with IE just fine

That's a really interesting tidbit about the bridge. I've never seen that bridge in action and I live in the area. I wonder when they do it, and why.
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  #32  
Old Posted Mar 28, 2006, 5:34 AM
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Verification of my drunken claims

http://www.suntimes.com/special_sect...-dtbox29c.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Chicago Suntimes
THE KINZIE RAIL BRIDGE

The bridge stands upright above the Chicago River just south of Kinzie Street west of the Merchandise Mart, like a salute to dirty water. It's been in the "up" position for years now.

You're not alone if you wonder: When will somebody finally tear the thing down?

But it turns out City Hall is quite proud of the old rail bridge, which is part of something unique to Chicago -- the largest collection of movable bridges in the world. To make sure it could still legally be used if ever it's needed again, the Union Pacific Rail Road cranks it into the "down" position every couple of years and rolls a couple of boxcars over it to maintain its "active" status.

The bridge may yet see new life one day as part of a route for buses or a light rail line.


For now, it remains an important part of Chicago's skyline -- and even had a cameo in John Cusack's 2000 movie "High Fidelity."

Glad to see it wont be going anywhere. It really does add a nice enduring touch of industry in an area rapidly changing to more commercial and residential uses.
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  #33  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2006, 1:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Rivernorth
Summerfest is awesome.
the fest could be very great if they had the right venues for it. I think Chicago needs to steal it outright and Lallapalooza is a start.
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  #34  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2006, 5:45 AM
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I dont like how the Summerfest venues are permanent in Milwaukee, in that the entire area is gated off along the lake for the entire year except for 2 weeks in the summer. just seems like such a waste of space for most of the year... which is why Lollapalooza is better Im glad to see Lolla become Chicago's music festival... just another nice little claim to fame. I mean, hell, they are expecting 225,000 people over 3 days in Grant Park! Imagine how packed South Michigan Avenue is gonna be!
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  #35  
Old Posted Apr 15, 2006, 12:47 AM
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http://www.transitchicago.com/news/c...ticleid=101316

Public Comment Next Step in Federal New Start Process

Chicago Transit Authority will hold public meetings next month to receive input on the proposed Circle Line project. The meetings are part of the Alternatives Analysis study—the first step in pursuing federal funding for major transit projects. The Alternatives Analysis study is designed to examine all the transit options available and determine a locally preferred alternative.

Meeting dates and venues are:

Tuesday, May 2, 2006
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum
West Wing Auditorium
1852 W. 19th Street
Chicago, IL 60608

Wednesday, May 3, 2006
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Lincoln Park High School
Room 103
2001 N. Orchard Street
Chicago, IL 60614

Thursday, May 4, 2006
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)
Molecular Biology Research Building
Room 1017
900 S. Ashland Avenue
Chicago, IL 60607

All venues are accessible to people with disabilities.

The proposed Circle Line would link all of CTA’s rail lines and all of Metra’s lines in a study area bounded by 39th Street on the south, Fullerton Parkway on the north, Western Avenue on the west and Lake Michigan on the east, creating improved transit connections throughout the six-county region and helping to further ease traffic congestion and improve travel times.

DMJM+Harris, A Joint Venture, which specializes in transit/rail, highway and bridge, marine, aviation and energy infrastructures is conducting the Alternatives Analysis study. The Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program requires transit project proposals to proceed through a process of planning, design and construction. The FTA process consists of five formal steps: Alternatives Analysis, Environmental Impact Statement, Preliminary Engineering, Final Design and Construction.
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  #36  
Old Posted Apr 19, 2006, 8:19 PM
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This is Cool to hear!
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  #37  
Old Posted Apr 21, 2006, 2:31 PM
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I think a subway down Grand Avenue (accessing Navy Pier) would be way more useful than a line down Carroll. I'd extend the line from Navy Pier to the Mart, then a southward turn to service both major train stations on Clinton, then a slight jog west to run south down a booming S. Halsted street, make an eastward turn to join up with the Orange Line Halsted stop, then the Red Line Cermak Stop, with a termination right under McCormick Place.

The name of this line will be: The Most Useful Line Ever Line.
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  #38  
Old Posted Apr 21, 2006, 3:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norsider
I think a subway down Grand Avenue (accessing Navy Pier) would be way more useful than a line down Carroll. I'd extend the line from Navy Pier to the Mart, then a southward turn to service both major train stations on Clinton, then a slight jog west to run south down a booming S. Halsted street, make an eastward turn to join up with the Orange Line Halsted stop, then the Red Line Cermak Stop, with a termination right under McCormick Place.

The name of this line will be: The Most Useful Line Ever Line.
Most expensive line ever. The Carrol Ave. ROW already exists and is pretty clear.
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  #39  
Old Posted Apr 21, 2006, 7:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VivaLFuego
Most expensive line ever. The Carrol Ave. ROW already exists and is pretty clear.

We've spent 400 billion or so blowing shit up in Iraq for more than three years now. That money would have built about 100 of these lines. Just think about that for a second. Expensive is a relative term.

Still, as long as the Carrol Ave ROW goes to Navy Pier, I suppose that'd do also. You'd like to acheive a bit a separation from the Green line on Lake Street though. Carrol's only just across the river.
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  #40  
Old Posted Apr 21, 2006, 7:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rivernorth
I dont like how the Summerfest venues are permanent in Milwaukee, in that the entire area is gated off along the lake for the entire year except for 2 weeks in the summer. just seems like such a waste of space for most of the year... which is why Lollapalooza is better Im glad to see Lolla become Chicago's music festival... just another nice little claim to fame. I mean, hell, they are expecting 225,000 people over 3 days in Grant Park! Imagine how packed South Michigan Avenue is gonna be!
Normally 1.3 million on July 3rd every year...so it is relatively small for Chicago. 1 million people got to each airshow day too.
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