Rauner’s IDOT Listening Tour Only Includes a Sprinkling of Cook County Stops

Bruce Rauner at the MPC 2014 annual luncheton
Rauner at a Metropolitan Planning Council event last year. Photo: MPC

Cook County represents 41 percent of Illinois’ population yet only three of the 30 scheduled stops on the Illinois Department of Transportation’s upcoming listening tour regarding Governor Rauner’s proposed state budget will take place in the county: two in suburban Cook County and a single meeting in Chicago.

Rauner has proposed a budget that slashes funding for transit service across the state, which would impact everything from the CTA ‘L’ and Pace suburban buses to the transit systems of downstate cities. Meanwhile, the Republican governor wants to actually increase spending to build new roads.

The proposed fiscal year 2016 budget has reduced operating assistance for the Regional Transportation Authority and its three operators – the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra, and Pace – by $100 million, and funding for downstate transit providers by $93 million. The Midwest High Speed Rail Association has calculated that the $100 million that would be cut from the RTA is equivalent to the total operations costs for the Orange, Brown, and Red Lines.

IDOT spokesperson Guy Tridgell said the department is working on scheduling an additional Chicago stop. That’s good because the only meeting scheduled in the city is part of a Metropolitan Planning Council Infrastructure Week event, which has a $75 admission charge. “These aren’t intended to be formal public hearings, but rather sessions that allow us to participate in variety of venues throughout Illinois to discuss infrastructure challenges our state faces,” Tridgell said.

Active Transportation Alliance director Ron Burke said the priority isn’t expanding the low number of Cook County sessions. “There are many ways in which IDOT and the state have historically short-changed metro Chicago, but let’s not read too much into how IDOT distributes their listening tour.”

Burke added that the region needs IDOT and the governor to do more, not less, to meet the Chicago region’s transportation needs.” His list of essentials includes:

  • A capital bill for transportation funding with a large share for transit
  • IDOT truly embracing the state’s complete streets law with policies that support walking and biking
  • Safety overhauls for the state arterial roads where a large percentage of Chicagoland traffic injuries and fatalities take place
  • Multi-modal transportation solutions for projects like the redesigns of North Lake Shore Drive and I-290

For those who cannot attend one of the 30 listening events, IDOT is accepting public input via a short online survey.

Meetings

May 13, 8 a.m. at an Infrastructure Week event ($75)
Union League Club of Chicago
65 W. Jackson Blvd.

May 13, 11 a.m. hosted by the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
TBA

May 13, 2 p.m. at the Chicago Urban League
4510 S. Michigan Ave., 1st floor conference room

Updated April 29 to include details of the newly and already scheduled Chicago meetings.

  • JacobEPeters

    1/5 of the state’s population…1/28 of the state’s listening tour locations. Message: We don’t want to hear from you.

  • R.A. Stewart

    “Active Transportation Alliance director Ron Burke said the priority
    isn’t expanding the low number of Cook County sessions. ‘There are many
    ways in which IDOT and the state have historically short-changed metro
    Chicago, but let’s not read to[o] much into how IDOT distributes their
    listening tour.’”

    I half agree with Ron Burke. The priority might not be on expanding the Cook County sessions, only because those sessions are almost certainly pointless–certainly the one Chicago meeting is. As JacobEPeters says in the previous comment, the very clear message is “We don’t want to hear from you.”

    And I think I’m reading exactly enough, exactly what’s meant, into how IDOT distributes their *coff coff* “listening” tour.

  • neroden

    In addition to slashing CTA, Metra, Pace, and downstate city bus budgets (and East St. Louis et al money for Metrolink), Rauner is also proposing to axe most of Illinois’s intercity Amtrak lines.

    Apparently he really hates public transportation. Perhaps the best thing to do is to keep lobbying the legislature; ideally Mike Madigan will make Rauner’s budget DOA.

  • Eli N

    A “listening tour” stop where you have to pay $75 to be listened to? Could anything possibly be more Rauner?

  • gmt64

    $75.00 to be listened too? All you had to do was R.S.V.P. for free. And Cook county already has adequate transportation to meet it’s needs so what would they learn from stopping there?