Today’s Headlines for Tuesday, August 29

  • Officials: New Trains, Infra, Will Cut Amtrak Trip to St. Louis by 1 Hour Next Year (Tribune)
  • Emanuel Touts Bike Infrastructure as Part of Chicago’s Climate Change Strategy (Guardian)
  • MPC Hosted a National Forum on “The Future of the Interstate”
  • Homeless Advocates File Lawsuit to Stop CDOT’s Plan for Sidewalk Bike Lanes (Tribune)
  • Public Plazas Are Coming to Corners Underneath the Washington-Wabash Station (Tribune)
  • Active Trans Endorses Plan for Dashed Bike Lanes on Milwaukee in Wicker Park
  • Rerouted Streets, One-Ways, and Cab Stands Planned for New South Loop Basketball Arena (DNA)
  • Mundelein Moves Forward With Downtown Pedestrian Bridge Near Metra Station (Tribune)
  • Metra Closes Pedestrian Crossing Near Deerfield High School (Tribune)
  • New Oak Park Anti-TOD Will Have 263 Units, 400 Parking Spots (Curbed)
  • Recyclery Volunteer Invents Device That Turns Bike Into Low-Impact Running Workout Machine (CBJ)
  • CBCAC Hosts a Chinatown Walking/Biking Design Charrette Tonight 6 PM (DNA)

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  • Chicagoan

    If we were in Asia or Europe and we had solid high speed rail, how short would the Chicago to St. Louis trip last?

  • The total track length between Chicago and St. Louis is 284 miles, but realistically it’d never go 220 MPH the entire distance from Chicago to STL. A big part of that is engineering constraints, especially within the Chicago area. Another is how many intermediate stops there would be. The Normal stop is the second-busiest Amtrak station in the state, so that one should definitely stay – and Springfield is also important, politically, so it probably should, too.

    Quick back-of-the-envelope estimation… Maybe 2 to 2.5 hours?

  • BlueFairlane

    That seems to fit with what happens in Japan. It’s almost the same distance from Tokyo and Kyoto, and if I’m reading the schedule right, that takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes with five stops.

  • JacobEPeters

    The Oak Park projects are a bit different than Anti-TOD, since they are being built on municipal lots that are being incorporated into the new towers as public garages, which means the city in theory has the ability to use these garages in the future to meet residential parking demands of new developments instead of the new developments including new parking. Based on utilization rates in the garage at Lake and Forest, it is very likely that the city will be able to put the unused spaces to a more productive use, and better manage parking across the downtown.

  • rwy

    I have family in the St. Louis area. This speedup in travel times will make it easier to see them. Have been waiting a long time for this.

  • planetshwoop

    That route seems to get more interest because it’s almost entirely within the state. Chi – Detroit or Chi – MLPS would make a lot more sense, I think.

  • planetshwoop

    The Mundelein thing is a boondoggle and won’t be used. It’s a shame railroads insist on such structures instead of tunnels or better safety for at-grade crossings. (The UP has killed so many of these and it makes Metra miserable. Hope the CN isn’t going to keep doing the same.

  • rohmen

    Yup. Oak Park has pretty much demanded this parking level to allow any development to occur on the former lots—and I believe the majority of the parking is specifically set aside for “public,” short term use, with each apartment allocated no more than one spot (if even that) in the garage. There’s also a 10,000 sq. ft retail element to this building, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re trying to attract a grocery store at this spot. The Emerson building across the street has a similar parking element to account for lost municipal parking, and then ended up incorporating an “urban” Target on the first floor.

  • Chicagoan


    Imagine if you could board a train in St. Louis at 05:30 PM on a Friday and be in Chicago at 08:00 PM for your 08:30 PM West Loop dinner reservation.

  • rohmen

    Scott Walker is the rub on any Chi – MLPS improvements given that a huge stretch of it would be Wisco track-related. He has literally killed train transit funding projects in the past, even when doing so has actually cost the state money rather than saving anything.

  • I actually live in Bloomington and I’ve been looking for a weekend apartment in Chicago. I would absolutely love to be able to board a train in Normal at 5:30pm on Fridays, arrive downtown at 7:00pm, and return on a 6:00am-7:30am train on Mondays. Realistically the timing wouldn’t be quite so perfect, but a guy can dream.

    Best Amtrak can do with the 110 MPH service is going to be about 2.25 hours from here to Chicago, which – especially once you account for transportation from Union Station to somewhere you might actually be trying to go – is still slower than driving. Plus there are only five trains a day and I can’t bring my dog, so…

  • Cameron Puetz

    Agreed, it’s hard to see replacing a surface lot with retail and apartments as anti-TOD. Turning a lot across the street from a train station into retail and housing is a good thing.

  • Tooscrapps

    Yes it an improvement, but will encourage more cars in already terribly congested corridor (Harlem). At some point Oak Park needs to start changing the conversation away from encouraging people to drive to DTOP and to the L/Metra.

    Divvy is a step in the right direction, but doesn’t have great coverage in Oak Park. Biking is fairly pleasant in Oak Park, but the Village isn’t exactly encouraging it by building these huge parking facilities. 800+ spots (though they did replace some that were removed) have been built in the two block radius of the stations.

  • Fred

    Why not just skip Cheeseland and go Chicago-Dubuque-Rochester-Minneapolis?

  • ardecila

    Because it’s foolish to spend billions on an intercity corridor that bypasses the major population centers?

    Milwaukee and Madison are important ridership generators. Those “cheeseheads” travel to Chicago and the Twin Cities, without their ridership the case for high speed rail is much weaker. Rochester may very well end up on a Chicago-Mpls line in the future, but Dubuque will not.

  • ardecila

    Chi-Detroit (Amtrak’s Wolverine) already operates trains at 110mph over certain segments. Roughly speaking, that line is about 3-4 years ahead of the Chi-STL corridor in terms of improvements to track. The new locomotives will allow the trains to sustain those speeds over longer distances.

  • ardecila

    Metra is an archaic dinosaur of a railroad. UP isn’t much better, but their push to grade-separate pedestrian crossings is laudable.

    When the railroads are in charge, they often do prefer tunnels. In several cases on the UP-West, UPRR built tunnel crossings – elevators are expensive, and if you’re building ramps instead, it’s a much shorter ramp to dive 12′ below the tracks than to go 22′ above.

  • rohmen

    For better or worse, it’s somewhat of a generational thing in OP, and I’m honestly amazed some of these even got off the ground given how vocal some of the opposition has been. You have long-time residents that are so upset with even this type of development (which still includes a lot of parking, but removes surface lots) that they swear ‘ll stop shopping in DTOP. Many people out here (rightly or wrongly) viewed OP has some sort of quaint village that is being destroyed by the added density.

    In some ways, I think you need the influx of people that will move into these current developments (and hopefully shop and eat in DTOP) to support a next wave of more TOD-oriented development near Harlem and Lake and Harlem and Madison. This may not do much to immediately reduce traffic congestion in the corridor, but they are laying the ground work for a sufficient population base in DTOP that businesses can break free of relying on automobile traffic.

  • Tooscrapps

    Yah. I remember the big hoopla over the Whiteco building. I’m sure many of the detractors now enjoy the TJs there. I do like the direction Oak Park is moving, but the traffic, which was never great, is just awful.

  • Cameron Puetz

    The Wolverine’s biggest problem a switchyard near Porter, IN, where it can be delayed for hours. Michigan has invested heavily in rail upgrades and the Wolverine moves quickly and reliably through Michigan. However it crawls through Indiana even when it’s not delayed. The improvements the Wolverine needs are in Indiana, but won’t happen because all the investment and support for the train are coming from Illinois and Michigan.

  • Cameron Puetz

    Iowa hasn’t exactly been more supportive. Iowa pulled support for a train to Iowa City so that line will now only run as far as Moline.