“Minimal Public Notice” for BRT Hearings? Not By a Long Shot

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Is an ad in the Chicago Reader and eight other papers “minimal public notice”?

At next week’s open house meetings (see details below) on the CTA’s plan to create fast, efficient bus rapid transit on Ashland Avenue, there will probably be plenty of project opponents grumbling that the agency didn’t do a good enough job of publicizing the events. On Saturday, Roger Romanelli, leader of the anti-BRT group the Ashland-Western Coalition, emailed members, complaining that the hearings are being held “with minimal public notice.”

It turns out that Romanelli’s claim is ridiculously inaccurate. I asked CTA spokeswoman Lambrini Lukidis what the agency has done to get the word out about the events, and she sent this provided the following list of the myriad ways they’re getting the word out about the events:

  • The environmental assessment for the plan was posted to CTA’s website on November 19
  • That day CTA issued a press release which was distributed to all media outlets
  • A legal advertisement was posted that day about the environmental assessment in the Sun-Times
  • Besides the Sun-Times, ads were placed in eight newspapers: The Gazette, Beverly Review, Chicago Defender, Hoy (Spanish), La Raza (Spanish), Our Urban Times, Chicago Reader, Newcity
  • An e-blast notice about the posted EA and the meetings were sent to a number of more than 1,500 recipients who have previously provided their contact information as being interested in the project
  • A postcard similar to the email was mailed to more than 300 recipients
  • Notices were posted on all #9 Ashland and #49 Western buses, as well as 16 other routes that are serviced by the same garage (#44, #47, #48, #54B, #55, #55A, #55N, #59, #62, #62H, #63, #63W, #67, #75, #94, #165)
  • Today [Tuesday] CTA is posting customer alerts about the meeting at 35 bus stops (northbound and southbound, so technically 70 total) along the length of the #9 corridor
  • CTA has reached out to aldermanic offices and more than a dozen community groups along the corridor regarding the latest steps for feedback on the project
  • City Year volunteers are expected to distribute flyers to businesses and at CTA stations and some major intersections at various times Friday through Monday

Short of hiring the Goodyear blimp to fly up and down the Ashland corridor advertising the meetings, I can’t imagine what other kind of public notice Romanelli is looking for.

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A #9 Ashland bus in Englewood. Photo: John Greenfield

The open houses are scheduled for:

Tuesday, December 10
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Benito Juarez Community Academy
1450 West Cermak Road

Wednesday, December 11
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Pulaski Park Fieldhouse
1419 West Blackhawk Street

Written comments can be also submitted by emailing AshlandBRT@transitchicago.com or by mail to the Chicago Transit Authority, attn.: Joe Iacobucci at 567 West Lake Street, Chicago, IL 60661. To be included as a formal comment as part of the EA, comments must be submitted no later than 4:30 p.m. on December 20.