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Rosemont Transit Center Rehab, Bus Lanes on I-90 Could Spur New Ridership

People getting off buses at Rosemont and heading into the station
The Rosemont Transit Center. Photo: Jeff Zoline

Pace Suburban Bus is starting a $1.5 million dollar project to modernize and rebuild the Rosemont Transit Center to increase capacity, improve service and maximize efficiency of traffic flow between buses, cars and pedestrians. The project is being coordinated with the Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways and the Chicago Transit Authority. The scope of the program details is as follows:

    • Expand the bus station islands to accommodate two buses in each bay for additional boarding capacity
    • Construct two new bus bays for additional boarding and one new bus bay for extra buses to sit on layovers
    • Upgrade sidewalks and bus boarding islands for improved ADA compliance
    • Improve pedestrian and bicycle access and safety around the transit center with additional sidewalks, crosswalks and bike racks
    • Improve the flow of traffic for taxi, shuttle, and Kiss-n-Ride zones to avoid conflict and congestion
    • Realign the bus lanes from the Tollway exit to reduce conflict with vehicular traffic around the parking lots upon entry into the Transit Center
    • Repair pavement and construct new parking lot gates

Pace will reimburse Cook County for the cost of the project because Cook County owns the land where the project will occur. The project is expected to start this summer and to be completed around October. However, according to northwest suburban news site Journal & Topics, Pace is still finalizing selection of a construction manager.

The Rosemont Transit Center was built in 1983 during the extension of the CTA Blue Line from Jefferson Park to O'Hare Airport. Today, the center is a busy multi-modal station hub located in the northwest suburban village of Rosemont serving over 6,000 riders a day. Rosemont is a small town with a large concentration of businesses, entertainment, restaurants and lodging adjacent to O'Hare Airport. In addition to the Blue Line, it's served by 12 Pace bus routes. Additionally, the station is served by taxis as well as corporate and hotel shuttles. The station also has a 798-space Park & Ride lot for commuters and a drop off (Kiss-n-Ride) area.

Rosemont CTA Station Platform
The Rosemont Blue Line station. Photo: Jeff Zoline

The Blue Line provides 24-hour service between O'Hare, downtown Chicago and west-suburban Forest Park. The Pace bus routes operate between the Rosemont station and destinations in the northwest suburbs. Half of the routes operate express along the Jane Addams Tollway (Interstate 90) to high employment density suburban corridors such as Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Itasca and Hoffman Estates.

The two most popular destinations accessible via the Tollway are the Woodfield Mall area in Schaumburg and the Prairie Stone Complex in Hoffman Estates. Woodfield is served daily by the #606 Northwest Limited bus and on weekday rush hours by the #600 Northwest Express bus between Rosemont and the Northwest Transportation center in Schaumburg.

Prairie Stone is served during weekday rush hour by the #610 River Road-Prairie Stone bus. Pace also plans to add four new express bus services along this corridor, 604 (Palatine-Schaumburg), 605 (Elgin-Rosemont),
607 (Elgin-Rosemont) and 608 (Addison-Schaumburg) in addition to expanding service for express routes 600 to Schaumburg and 610 to Hoffman Estates.

The Rosemont Transit Center project is being coordinated with the Illinois Tollway's $2.5 billion dollar project to rebuild and widen the Jane Addams Tollway (Interstate 90) between the Tri-State Tollway (Interstate 294) in Rosemont and the Elgin Toll Plaza. The 62 mile project, which began in 2014, is expected to be completed in 2016 and is part of a larger $12 billion dollar capital program called Move Illinois.

Pace Bus enteing the the Tollway at Devon Ave
A Pace bus entering the Jane Adams Tollway at Devon. Photo: Jeff Zoline

The Tollway project will increase the total number of lanes from six to eight. This will include one flex lane in each direction on the inner shoulder for Pace Buses and emergency vehicles. This dedicated lane will help speed up travel time for buses. Three new Park-n-Ride facilities will also be constructed at Randall Road, Illinois Route 25 and Barrington Road on the Tollway system for a total of $240 million.

Combined, the Rosemont Transit Center rehab and the new dedicated bus lanes could have a positive effect on northwest-suburban transit. However, the scope of CTA's involvement in the project and the improvements to the train station itself have yet to be determined. CTA has not yet made an announcement about this project or included it as part of the Your New Blue renovation program.

And while the dedicated lanes should help speed buses, it would be optimal for the Tollway to also build an entrance ramp for westbound buses closer to the Rosemont station. Pace Buses heading from the transit center to the Tollway currently have to travel about a mile north on River Road and west on Higgins Road (Illinois 72) on surface roads to enter the Tollway near

Devon Avenue negatively impacts people who rely on the bus to get to work from Rosemont during rush hour. A possible flyover bridge or underpass, to be constructed in the future, as suggested by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning should remedy this problem.

The above projects will bring many benefits to transit riders, pedestrians and cyclists alike. Hopefully the improvements will attract new riders who will benefit from the additional service and efficiency.

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