Today’s Headlines

  • Active Trans Launches Petition Against Rauner Plan to Gut Transit, Boost Road Funding
  • Tattler: Cutting Transit Funding Without Raising Taxes on Rich Is Class Warfare
  • Reader: Emanuel’s Parking Contract Reboot Gave More Territory to Concessionaire
  • New Interest in the Old “Loop Connector” Proposal for Train Service to Navy Pier (DNA)
  • Metra Cancels 2 Trains After Joliet Derailment (Tribune)
  • Officer Defends His Decision to Pursue Suspect, Which Led to Fatal Crash (Tribune)
  • Driver Seriously Injured Senior as She Left Church in Park Ridge (Tribune)
  • Construction of Peoria Bridge Will Close Lanes on Eastbound Ike This Weekend (DNA)
  • John Navigates the Chicagoland Tiki Scene by Train and Bike (Newcity)
  • Has Your Winter Biking Experience Been Rocky? This Theme Song Will Fire You Up (Tiny Fix)

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Due to a funding shortfall, Streetsblog Chicago has suspended publication of orginal articles. Please see Streetsblog Editor-in-Chief Ben Fried’s message about the hiatus, and my post about the effort the revive the site via local fundraising. In the meantime, I am continuing to produce Today’s Headlines on a volunteer basis as a service to readers.

The Chicago Community Trust, a charitable foundation that was one of the early funders of SBC, has been impressed by the outpouring of support the site has received since we announced our hiatus on January 8. Thanks to the generosity of sponsors and readers like you, by February 16, we had raised $34K of the $75K needed to fund a year of operations.

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– John

  • Fred

    Re : Loop Connector

    Any expansion of public transit is a pipe-dream in Rauner’s Austere Illinois. No reason to even spend time thinking about it, let alone wasting money on it.

  • rohmen

    I largely agree, though the capitol improvements budget at CTA is entirely separate from the operation budget, and so far I thought his cuts were aimed at only the operation budget.

    I certainly agree that Rauner isn’t going to jump out in front with support for these things going forward, but i guess it depends how much fed funding can be obtained as to how CTA grows now.

  • Fred

    Remember, Scott Walker RETURNED federal money for high speed rail. At this point I’m not convinced Rauner wouldn’t do the same for non-road, non-airport projects.

  • rohmen

    I could be mistake, but I think CTA receives the grant money directly. For things like high-speed rail and Amtrak, though, yeah we’re in trouble. Especially considering Walker (amazingly) seems more popular than ever—at least outside of Milwaukee and Madison.

  • Kevin M

    I strongly disagree. In fact, I believe we must transform the conversation of funding transit (operations AND capital) as a *smarter* use of limited public transportation funds vs. building more highways and roads. We must use Rauner’s austerity focus to highlight the fact that transit is precisely the sort fiscally-responsible transportation that government should be funding in these tight-budget times. We need to raise this point a thousand times louder than we’ve raised it so far.

    The evidence is bright and clear: look at how much IL taxpayers have spent on their roads and highways over the last 50 years; look at how often those roads and highways have been repaved and rebulit. Compare this with transit funding over the past 50 years and how long the rails, trains, and buses have lasted. We need to spotlight these facts

    ad nauseam, at ever opportunity.

  • rohmen

    I agree that’s really the only option going forward, and I agree in a perfect world that argument should work on even someone like Rauner. Fred is right to site Walker, though. Walker killing high-speed rail was as much about railing against the very idea of mass transit progress as a liberal concept (they’re trying to take away our cars/lifestyle), than it was about austerity.

    As detractors were quick to point out, killing it cost the State more than it saved. Not to mention the jobs it cost the State. Appealing to austerity concerns would work great, if austerity is what really drove these guys.

  • Kevin M

    I acknowledge the ulterior motives behind Walker and other GOP governors in their moves to stunt or kill transit projects. At the same time, I think we (* see note) need to call their Austerity card by playing that suit ourselves. They are not playing their ulterior motive cards, so therefore they are not allowing an open/public to challenge these. We must follow suit.

    (* by “we”, I demand the free press that isn’t bought-out by the GOP to get to work with this. StreetsBlog will do their part, but there must be a broader coalition across media channels, and civic groups they follow, to play out the austerity conversation with an honest analysis of the fiscal sense of transit funding)

  • ardecila

    The same Rauner that froze planning on all new IDOT projects including Illiana? He may be pushing for austerity, but I don’t think he has displayed a pro-road bias.

  • Fred

    The budget Rauner proposed on Wednesday would slash nearly one-third of state funding for the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) — almost $130 million — while adding $120 million to the road fund.

    That’s pro-road bias to me.

  • Erik Swedlund

    John, I think the tiki piece is your best tour article yet!

  • Thanks Eric. Visiting eight tiki venues in seven days without a car was a challenging task, but someone had to do it.

  • rohmen

    The crazy thing is Rauner basically just shut down every project when he took office—largely as a publicity stunt to show he was being tough from day one. He has stated he will then start up certain projects after he has reviewed them, which could include the Illiana. The funny thing is Rauner shutting it (and other IDOT projects) down will likely end up doing little more than increasing costs overall.

    That said, I thought I had heard Indiana killed their portion of the project as well. Would Illinois build its section if Indiana doesn’t build theirs?? Seems suspect.

  • ardecila

    The bulk of the $120 million is budgeted for road maintenance – basic resurfacing work and not major capital projects or expansions. You can also argue – budget math is weird – that the increase here is paid for with major estimated savings in “operational efficiencies”. Don’t need as many high-paid IDOT staff if you’re focused on maintenance and not expansion.

  • BlueFairlane

    Indiana put it “on hold” in response to Rauner putting it on hold. Nothing’s been killed by either state. Indiana’s just waiting to see what Illinois is going to do.

  • Fred

    I don’t buy the whole “operational efficiencies” ruse. Every government agency has been belt tightening for 5+ years now. There reaches a point where you can’t get blood from a stone.

    So road maintenance is more important than public transit daily operations…. sounds like pro-road bias to me.

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