Skip to Content
Streetsblog Chicago home
Streetsblog Chicago home
Log In

Advocates urge CMAP’s transportation committee to reject road expansion projects

2:05 AM CDT on May 11, 2022

Shared-lane markings recently installed on the Montrose Avenue bridge over the Kennedy Expressway. Photo: Josh Koonce

A number of advocacy organizations are urging Chicagoland's metropolitan planning organization to help put the brakes on plans to widen local expressways and arterial streets. Ten groups sustainable transportation, environmental, and public health organizations, including the Active Transportation Alliance, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, and the Shared-Use Mobility Center, signed a letter urging the transportation committee of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning to chart a different course, which ATA read into the record at the committee's meeting last month. CMAP is currently working on a list of regionally significant projects that are eligible for federal funding.

The proposed list of projects would add 122 lane miles to the expressway and 55 miles of new lanes on arterial streets, the advocacy groups stated. They noted that expanding expressways and arterial roads will degrade quality of life in Chicagoland communities, calling plans to widen arterial roads "troubling."

The letter added, “It is well documented how recent spikes in traffic crashes, serious injuries, and fatalities can be attributed to safety issues on arterial streets. These streets already divide communities and are unsafe and uncomfortable for people walking and biking. Widening them only makes these problems worse while encouraging more people to drive and increasing emissions."

As far as expressway widening goes, there's plentiful data showing that when more capacity is added to highways, there's little or no congestion benefit, because the new lanes quickly fill up with more drivers, which just creates more emissions. this phenomenon is known as induced demand.

The letter states that CMAP’s scoring methodology for proposed projects fails to take induced demand into account. Furthermore, it notes, adding more lanes for expressway traffic and arterial traffic would run counter to the goal of CMAP's ON TO 2050 regional plan: creating a modern, multimodal transportation system that reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

The advocacy groups reminded CMAP that guidance from the Federal Highway Administration calls for states to prioritize using federal transportation funds for projects that fix existing infrastructure and support multimodal travel, rather than ones that expand road capacity. They note that repeating past mistakes by expanding roadways would squander the opportunity to transform our streets and create safer and more vibrant communities. I couldn’t agree more.

Read the full letter here.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog Chicago

How to access Black history landmarks on the South Side via transit

Ventra provided a list of Black history landmarks, mostly on or near King Drive on the South Side, with directions on how to reach them by CTA or Metra.

February 20, 2024

DeKalb’s bus ridership to Metra’s Elburn station is booming. Could the UP-W Line be expanded to NIU?

The shuttle's success shows lower fares and more frequent service can grow ridership in the post-pandemic era.

February 17, 2024

Pickup driver fatally struck bicycle rider Allan Beyderman, 41, on bike-hostile stretch of Golf Road near Des Plaines River Trail

The lack of bike facilities on the 4-lane highway, and the driver's high-front-end pickup truck, were likely factors in the crash.

February 16, 2024
See all posts