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  #8861  
Old Posted Mar 18, 2012, 11:06 PM
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None of the above ardecila. It's actually a "sacrificial" beam designed to absorb the energy of an above clearance vehicle hitting it, thus protecting the actual girder bridge from damage... Pretty clever really. I also thought about the graffiti issue but I don't see why it would be more tag worthy than the actual large bridge girder.

Does anyone know what color they plan on painting these new bridges? I could see I nice green or perhaps dark gray or even black.
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  #8862  
Old Posted Mar 18, 2012, 11:13 PM
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Ah. That's interesting and pretty clever. The "sacrificial" beam is an easy way to access the main girder, though. Without it, taggers would either have to tag the inside of the girder facing the tracks (who cares) or they'd have to shimmy out onto the bottom flange, which would deter a lot of them. The fact that the girders have already been tagged is evidence of this problem, which is gonna lead to a maintenance headache.

Besides - what happened to the clearance-raising part of the project? Did Metra drop that goal to save a few bucks? The comparison image shows some huge bearings on the previous plan that don't show up in the updated plan.

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  #8863  
Old Posted Mar 20, 2012, 4:18 AM
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Are they able to raise clearances much? I mean you'd have to redo long approaches. I guess they could use some really wide flange stringers to give a few extra inches of clearance or maybe cut down on some of that built up track bed.

Usually it's easier to pay the city to drop the road level...sewers and all...especially when there's an existing drainage problem and a major solution is needed.

Strike beams are usually installed when there's absolutely no other alternative...but they've done such an overhaul here, this is really quite surprising.

14'6" is non-restricted clearance. Can't quite tell if the bridge is even close to that. Looks like ~12'6"

Strike beam in action
http://11foot8.com/
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  #8864  
Old Posted Mar 20, 2012, 4:40 AM
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I think the idea (in the original project) was that the two tracks would be centered in the ROW and additional gravel ballast could be piled on top to raise the elevation by a foot or two.

Looking back on it, though, I can't see any official source that claims Metra ever wanted to raise clearances at every street crossing, as The Urbanophile claimed in his blog post. The middle section in the "single-track" scheme shows the new bridge with the exact same clearance as the remaining old one.

Certainly some crossings on the UP-North are drastically low, and at these locations Metra may try to raise track elevation. But at Berteau and Sunnyside, they seem content to leave clearances unchanged and put in the strike beams. Berteau is currently 11'8", Sunnyside is 10'10" per the city's master list.

The bottom elevation of the new bridges might be a few inches higher than the old ones, and Metra can probably gain a few extra inches by shaving the roadway. That's not enough to bring it to 14'6", though.
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Last edited by ardecila; Mar 20, 2012 at 4:50 AM.
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  #8865  
Old Posted Mar 23, 2012, 3:22 PM
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The news from last night's presentation on a new Green Line station at Cermak:

Cermak was chosen over 18th for several reasons, including interference with 18th Junction, transfers from the Cermak bus, proximity to McCormick Place, and a ridership study. Projections are for 2000 "riders" a day at Cermak. I didn't demand clarification about whether that was in fact "boardings."

The construction schedule is rather aggressive, with construction beginning in 2013 and the station opening in 2014. A design firm will be chosen soon, but some parts of the program are set: no property acquisition, main entrance on north side of Cermak, auxiliary entrances on south side and also at 23rd to serve McCormick Place.

The astonishing cost—projected as $50 million for a simple island-platform station—was defended because it will be "a tight time-frame" and "built under traffic." Morgan (to open in May, we learned) was only $40 million. The Cermak station will be paid for by TIF funds from the Near South district, which sunsets in 2014.

I know I'm the only person who continues to tilt at this particular windmill, but just for comparison: An entire suburban Walmart costs about $14 million to build. The Tollway Authority yesterday approved an entire interchange at Route 47 (to be built under traffic at Davis-Bacon rates) for $36 million. The new eight-story Jones HS at State & Polk is only $90 million.
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  #8866  
Old Posted Mar 23, 2012, 3:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Downtown View Post
I know I'm the only person who continues to tilt at this particular windmill, but just for comparison: An entire suburban Walmart costs about $14 million to build. The Tollway Authority yesterday approved an entire interchange at Route 47 (to be built under traffic at Davis-Bacon rates) for $36 million. The new eight-story Jones HS at State & Polk is only $90 million.
^ You are not the only one tilting at that windmill.

This is exactly why America is building such little mass transit right now. Chicago just keeps sucking property/business owners dry so that they can overpay contractors for this kind of stuff.

Anyhow, I hope this station spurs some development around the site. Right now there are some nice little places for drunken grub, but otherwise those vacant lots and that god-awful drive thru White Castle need to go. I really wish the redevelopment of the Hilliard Homes had included something to enforce the State/Cermak streetwall, but alas we have a fortress behind a sea of empty grass...
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  #8867  
Old Posted Mar 23, 2012, 8:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
^ You are not the only one tilting at that windmill.

This is exactly why America is building such little mass transit right now. Chicago just keeps sucking property/business owners dry so that they can overpay contractors for this kind of stuff.

Anyhow, I hope this station spurs some development around the site. Right now there are some nice little places for drunken grub, but otherwise those vacant lots and that god-awful drive thru White Castle need to go. I really wish the redevelopment of the Hilliard Homes had included something to enforce the State/Cermak streetwall, but alas we have a fortress behind a sea of empty grass...
Perhaps someone would be able to FOI a detailed budget from the Morgan station to see where exactly all the money goes per the budget?
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  #8868  
Old Posted Mar 23, 2012, 9:18 PM
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Was the $50m figure fully loaded, or only the hard costs of the construction contract itself?

Last edited by VivaLFuego; Mar 23, 2012 at 9:28 PM.
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  #8869  
Old Posted Mar 24, 2012, 1:10 AM
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Originally Posted by emathias View Post
Perhaps someone would be able to FOI a detailed budget from the Morgan station to see where exactly all the money goes per the budget?
I guess you could. I'd be more interested in seeing the submitted bids (when they get to that stage).

There are various reasons that have been projected for the high cost of construction. One of the most logical explanations is that there are pretty high barriers to entry, with CTA or CDOT demanding firms with a past record of transit work, union labor, etc... That means the bids only come from a select few contractors who meet the criteria. Over time, this high cost of construction affects the initial budgeting for a project, so a transit station will be allocated $50 million at the outset instead of $30 million to avoid a last-minute scramble for funds. None of the small cartel of qualifying contractors will come in drastically under the allocated amount, since that amount is public knowledge that is known to all ahead of time.

Mr. D's comparison of a suburban Wal-Mart is off-base, though. Wal-Mart puts up hundreds of stores annually, so they gain the benefits of economies of scale. Wal-Mart clears and levels each site to a blank slate condition and then erects a cookie-cutter store there. Plus, it is usually not beholden to the strings that come with any kind of public funding. Cities that provide incentives for Wal-Mart to open up almost never make demands, and cities that make demands almost always have some sort of hugely profitable population of potential customers (or else Wal-Mart goes to the next town over).
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Last edited by ardecila; Mar 24, 2012 at 1:20 AM.
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  #8870  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2012, 2:01 PM
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Another huge month in ridership growth on CTA.

Average weekday ridership is up 10% on buses and 9% on trains.

http://www.transitchicago.com/assets...rts/2012-2.pdf
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  #8871  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2012, 3:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Vlajos View Post
Another huge month in ridership growth on CTA.

Average weekday ridership is up 10% on buses and 9% on trains.

http://www.transitchicago.com/assets...rts/2012-2.pdf
I'd wondered if eliminating free rides would result in a one-year dip in ridership. I'm glad it didn't. The higher-than-budget ridership figures should also help offset the higher-than-budget fuel expenses, which is nice.

I'm sure the unseasonably warm February helped, but it's really good to see the South Side lines all also having strong gains. Based on some earlier data analysis I posted here, it was trailing but this time the Blue Line has really strong growth and all the other lines have comparably strong growth - excellent.
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  #8872  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2012, 3:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emathias View Post
I'd wondered if eliminating free rides would result in a one-year dip in ridership. I'm glad it didn't. The higher-than-budget ridership figures should also help offset the higher-than-budget fuel expenses, which is nice.

I'm sure the unseasonably warm February helped, but it's really good to see the South Side lines all also having strong gains. Based on some earlier data analysis I posted here, it was trailing but this time the Blue Line has really strong growth and all the other lines have comparably strong growth - excellent.
The senior free rides thing was absolutely stupid. Thank goodness it was eliminated.

Even Red and Brown line ridership has strong growth of over 7% each.
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  #8873  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2012, 4:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vlajos View Post
Another huge month in ridership growth on CTA.

Average weekday ridership is up 10% on buses and 9% on trains.

http://www.transitchicago.com/assets...rts/2012-2.pdf
Thanks for the great news.
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  #8874  
Old Posted Mar 28, 2012, 9:05 PM
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Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
How much of a role did pressure from community groups play in the city building a new Green Line stop in the west loop, with one now on the way in the south loop?
There may have been more in the West Loop, but it wasn't much of a factor for the Cermak station. The expiration of the TIF district seems to be the main reason for the urgency.
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  #8875  
Old Posted Mar 28, 2012, 9:39 PM
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I put this in the Heavy Rail discussion, too, but since Chicago's ridership increase is quite healthy I thought I'd post it here, too. The only two places you can say grew better (rail) ridership than Chicago are New York and LA, and LA has been adding heavy rail lines plus started from a very low base. New York's population growth helped a lot, I'm sure. Probably the reduction in overall crime and crime perception helped a lot, too. If Chicago's crime continues to improve, that should be a bonus for ridership here, too.


Graphic created by me, from APTA numbers
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  #8876  
Old Posted Mar 28, 2012, 9:58 PM
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^ Great graphic, thanks for sharing!

I would also argue that, with the lowest number of riders per mile of rail (if I'm correct), Chicago also has the greatest potential for growth without having to add any new lines or stations.

Chicago could easily vault to the top of this list if we saw more infill and density around the stations
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  #8877  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2012, 2:00 AM
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Streeterville really needs to ramp up mass transit access. I really wish SOAR would get behind a heavy rail line..
Well, since you specify heavy rail... there's a huge difference between a $30 million elevated station and a $3 billion subway. The $3 billion subway has to be built as the product of regional consensus, because funding of that magnitude can only be obtained from the Feds if the whole region's cohort of politicians is pushing for it. Look at how long we've spent in endless studies for the Circle Line, the Red Line Extension, and the North Main Rebuild.

Not saying Streeterville doesn't need a subway... but maybe I am? NMH has for several decades now pursued a strategy of stuffing parking in every possible place they can find in the neighborhood. If Northwestern's thousands of employees can all get subsidized parking provided to them, why should they bother with taking CTA? The relatively few transit users that remain can be served with standard bus routes.

The Central Area Transitway might help... but it will not actually have bus lanes in Streeterville. My vote is for some kind of BRT solution, at least in the short term, to get fast buses running from Ogilvie/Union, connecting with L lines, and running to the NMH area.
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  #8878  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2012, 2:02 AM
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Metra, Amtrak service could be disrupted during NATO

Quote:
With the NATO summit coming up in May, Crains Chicago Business is reporting there could be plans to close train tracks that pass under McCormick Place during all or part of the convention.

Each weekday 172 Metra trains pass under McCormick Place carrying an average of 36,000 passengers in and out of the Loop. 6 Amtrak trains also pass under caring more than 13,000, and the South Shore trains carry another 7,000. Canadian National trains use the tracks under McCormick place as well.
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  #8879  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2012, 2:23 AM
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^^ So they're finally making this public... didn't want to comment on it until they released the information.

What a nightmare that will be. Maybe they could run under a weekend schedule and run shuttle buses from 27th?
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  #8880  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2012, 3:06 AM
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I wish there was light rail that started at Union Station, then crossed Kinzie RR bridge, then past Michigan Ave, on to Navy Pier back around through Streeterville and up to Water Tower place. Better if it's a loop but I need to take more time to think about that.
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