Today’s Headlines

  • City Announces $492 Million Overhaul of O’Hare Line (Sun-Times, DNA)
  • Claypool: Ventra Still Not Good Enough But It’s Getting Better (Sun-Times)
  • ‘Chicago Tonight’ Holding Town Hall on Ventra Snafus (DNA)
  • Metra Looking Into Adopting Ventra Next Year (Tribune)
  • Niles Hires Sam Schwartz to Create Ped and Bike Plan (Tribune)
  • Why You Need to Show Up for the BRT Open Houses (Active Trans)
  • How Can Lincoln South of Belmont Be Made Less Depressing? (DNA)
  • Santa Visits Brown Line Stations This Week on Holiday Train (DNA)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Adam Herstein

    I wonder if they’ll do a full shutdown of the Blue Line as was done for the Red Line. Is the track in bad condition or is this more of a station upgrade project? Express trains to O’Hare would be nice, too.

  • Mishellie

    I feel like most of the track is ok… but on the elevated section (chicago, western, damen) trains end up creeping along. I often get motion sick in that section.

    An express train that goes out to addison before stopping would be FANTASTIC. Plus it would alleviate some of the suitcase congestion. So tiring to not be able to sit because there’s no where for people to stow their suitcases. However, IDK if it’s possible to build express tracks…

  • Adam Herstein

    What’s really needed are luggage racks on the 2600 cars the Blue Line is assigned. But not sure if that makes any sense since the trains will soon be obsolete.

  • KC

    I doubt it. During the Dan Ryan branch construction, the South Side Green Line tracks were available as an obvious and convenient alternate as it was only a few blocks away from the Ryan and connected to the Howard L through the State Street Subway. The Blue Line does not have a clear alternate: Shutting the O’Hare branch down would inconvenience a lot of riders and, other than a connection to the Pink Line in the Medical District, the Blue Line is orphaned from the rest of the L system.

    Express trains to O’Hare sounds ok to me as well, but I would rather extend the Brown Line from Kimball to Jefferson Park to create a connection between the North Lakefront and O’Hare. I’d imagine this could be done by building a subway under Lawrence.

  • Adam Herstein

    As someone who lives in Lake View and frequently takes CTA to O’Hare, I’d love a Brown Line extension to Jefferson Park. It would be much faster than taking the Belmont Bus to the Blue Line.

  • Relevant to the Transit-oriented-development thing: a developer has purchased a building at the Kimball/Lawrence corner (the one with the Payless in it) and wants to knock down the building and put up a ‘traditional’ Walgreens store, with 17 parking spaces and 2 30-foot driveway curb cuts (one on each street). This seems both excessive and really tone-deaf — what Lawrence doesn’t need is increased car traffic (especially left-turners into and out of driveways), and sitting right at the Brown Line terminus, in the middle of over half a mile of fairly dense residential in any direction, is going to give a new Walgreens as much foot traffic as they can handle! I bet North Park students will walk down too, even if they’re not Brown Line commuters.

    This is currently at the applying-for-zoning-variances stage, apparently. I don’t live in the 33rd Ward so their alderman doesn’t care what I think, despite that I live quite close (because Albany Park got balkanized into 4 different wards in the latest redistricting; I’m in a little spur of Rey Colon’s 35th).

    I can’t figure out how to do those great little embedded-streetview things, but here’s a link to the google map of the corner, at least.

    The property immediately south of this one was recently redeveloped with commercial below and residential above,a lovely walkable development. The current building also contains residential, which presumably Walgreens isn’t interested in replacing.

  • Mishellie

    Anything to get people east and west faster would be… heavenly. Something up there sounds great, and also something closer to Chicago/Division.

  • Dan Staggs

    Holy smokes, rails from Kimball to Jefferson Park would be amazing. Two miles of track with probably three stations (Pulaski, Elston, Cicero, would be my assumptions) would add a lot to the network and it isn’t the most outlandish proposal, financially.

  • And since this seems to be my day to bring northwest-side news to streetsblog, here’s a drawing of the pedestrian tunnel under Foster at Gompers Park that I proposed back yonks ago in the comments.

    Not drawn by me (credit where credit is due); great minds think alike. Link goes to a page of “A New Foster Avenue,” which seems to be an attempt to rally Mayfairites into actual civic engagement, without any apparent effect on the alderman (and sometimes with a strident, insulting tone to the posts that is probably counterproductive).

  • Except in that any proposal involving new tunnel tends to be greeted with an air of “YOU WANT ME TO EAT BABIES??” horror by the people with actual authority to fund it …

  • Adam Herstein

    Chicago is too much of a north-south town and doesn’t have many good east-west connections outside of the Blue/Green/Pink Line corridors. Even the BRT is going to be north-south. For those who live outside those corridors – on the north and south sides – and need to get west, there are no good ‘L’ connections, and thus, are forced onto slow buses.

  • what_eva

    how deep would it have to go with the Edens and Kennedy both being in cuts already at Lawrence?

  • madopal

    If you look at the BRT plans, Irving Park & Fullerton are identified as prime candidates for E/W. I think Irving makes more sense, as it’s wider and can easily handle the reconfiguration with far less construction than Fullerton can. I’ve been dreaming that after the Ashland BRT gets underway, the other areas will be sped up. Chicago NEEDS E/W connections badly, and there doesn’t seem to be the money/will to add rail.

  • Kevin M

    Express trains & extensions are not mentioned anywhere in the press report on the half-billion dollar Blue Line rehab project.

    I would love to know what exactly this huge suck of scarce transit funds is going towards.

    I know that the subway lines were re-built in 08/09, and the track north of Logan Square to O’Hare was also re-built around that time or possibly a year or two prior. I also recall seeing an article on DNA a couple of months ago announcing that the Damen-to-California track was to be worked on in Spring 2014 to improve that slow zone.

    So, what is half-a-billion buying us? I wouldn’t hold your breath for express trains or track extensions. I hope John & Steve will take up this investigation at some point because I don’t expect that the major media has much of a memory for mass transit capital projects of the past, so we can’t count on them to ask these questions.

  • adr

    Regarding the Lincoln issue…A great start would be finding a way to make the intersection at diversey, lincoln, and racine more inviting for pedestrians. The corner lots on the north side of diversey could use some help. One is a parking lot, the other is a gas station, and the third is parking for Gino’s East with their garbage container right on the corner. The corner with the parking lot is currently being used to sell xmas trees, and just that small change makes the area much more inviting for someone walking. The way that Heritage Bicycles livened up the space next to its shop is a similar good example (just look at google street view to see the “before” picture). Perhaps taking a page from other cities and allowing food carts on street facing parts of parking lots could help enliven the street and serve as a way to attract folks to the area. I’ve seen it work like a charm in Portland.

  • JKM13

    Yeah, as someone who commutes most of the O’hare branch of the blue line when I commute via CTA, I don’t understand where this proposal is coming from. They rebuilt the tracks from Clark/Lake to O’Hare back in 2007 (when it really was a miserable experience). Why would they possibly need to spend half a billion to rebuild them again 5 years later when the speeds are already reasonable? Here’s a tattler article from 2009 about some additional work they did to fill in the gaps of what wasn’t done in 2007. Right now I get from Harlem to Clark/Lake in 30-35 minutes. There are so many other capital improvements the CTA should be allocating this money towards.

    http://www.ctatattler.com/2009/05/cta-responds-to-blue-line-slow-zone-questions.html

  • Fred

    Express trains would be in a whole different level of construction. Express trains would require double tracking of the entire distance between O’hare and the Loop. There does not appear to be enough right-of-way in the median of most of the Kennedy to add 2 more sets of tracks, so you would have to do it in coordination with re-doing the highway as well. This quickly turns into a multi-billion dollar project. I just don’t see it happening any time soon. A Brown Line extension would be far more likely, in comparison.

  • Jim Mitchell

    Chicagoist published an article that includes a punch list of items the half-billion is supposed to include: http://chicagoist.com/2013/12/05/cta_blue_line_ohare_branch_renovati.php

  • Ryan Wallace

    There have been several comments from CTA stating that the blue line will never be completely shut down between O’hare and the loop.

    I would love to see the breakdown of boardings and alightings to and from O’hare. I could see express coming from O’hare (express to say Chicago Ave). Is there enough traffic to justify express trains? I would at least love to hear CTA discuss the issue publicly.

  • Ryan Wallace

    This is going on all over the City. The best thing we can do is get involved in neighborhood and Alderman meetings to let the leaders and developers know that this is not what the community wants.

  • Ryan Wallace

    Double track would probably not be required the ENTIRE way. Double tracks would be needed at least at stations, and with creative scheduling of trains, maybe not even all stations.

  • I tried. The alderman’s staffer asked what my address was, and when I told them, they said they were more interested in hearing from THEIR constituents. Guess I have to start trying to follow the developer news from the heartland of the 35th Ward, so I can influence MY alderman about affairs and design miles from my house.