Clark Street now has bridge plates for bicycling and is part of CDOT’s recommended detour for bicyclists who travel south on Wells Street to south of the Chicago River. Photo taken October 30, 2012.
The Chicago Transit Authority and Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) jointly announced in a press release today the yearlong closure of the Wells Street bridge. The press release detailed the two, short duration closures in the spring of the CTA Purple and Brown Lines to repair Tower 18. CDOT published an accompanying map of the detours that will go in place which include a route for bicyclists to travel south on Clark Street where new bridge plates have been installed. According to Alderman Brendan Reilly’s newsletter, the project completion date is no later than December 1, 2013.
Photo of poor quality pavement taken September 4, 2012.
Grid Chicago has contacted CDOT to ask that the potholes, cracks, and uneven pavement on Clark Street in the right-most lane before the bridge be repaired. Dan Burke, deputy commissioner of the division of engineering at CDOT said over the phone they would send paving crews to the spot within a week.
View this rapidly created Google Maps of the Wells Street detour in a larger screen. The thick blue line represents the recommended detour for bicyclists; LaSalle Street is another option but lacks bridge plates (about half of the bridge has a concrete deck). It was adapted from a CDOT-issued map (.pdf).
Updated October 31 to include the information about potholes and completion date.
A right-turn channelization from southbound Kedzie Avenue to northbound Milwaukee Avenue. From 2005-2011 there were 7 pedestrian crashes (including a fatal hit-and-run crash in 2009) and 4 bicycle crashes. The crash data do not allow me to relate any of them to a specific hazard at this location.
The groundbreaking Chicago Pedestrian Plan says goodbye to this pedestrian safety hazard. I can’t wait to say goodbye to the right-turn channelization on northbound Elston Avenue at Ashland Avenue (why? one, two, three).
Goal: Improve non-standard intersections
You’ll find the right-turn channelization (characterized by the presence of an additional crosswalk and often a concrete island) most often at intersections with diagonal streets. The Chicago Pedestrian Plan, in Goal 8 of the “Connectivity” chapter, will “remove all channelized right turn lanes by 2015”. This is an excellent idea because it reduces crossing distance, reduces car travel speeds (which is the determining factor of an injurious or fatal crash), and reduces the likelihood of a right-angle (t-bone) crash. Download the Chicago Pedestrian Plan.
A Lincoln Service Amtrak train passes Joliet, Illinois. Photo by Eric Pancer.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn joined United States Department of Transportation secretary Ray LaHood (who’s from Peoria) and Senator Dick Durbin on a special Amtrak train in Joliet on their way to Normal. They met to ride on a rebuilt stretch of track which carried their train at a top speed of 111 miles per hour (MPH).
The high-speed portion is between Dwight and Pontiac, Illinois, according to the LaHood’s blog, Fast Lane. The map below highlights the cities in this article along the route of the Lincoln Service Amtrak route to St. Louis, Missouri. NBC5 reporter Anthony Ponce joined the politicians for the demonstration ride saying the 15 mile high-speed portion lasts less than 5 minutes. “Amtrak says that by 2015, 75% of the route between Chicago and St. Louis will be high speed”.
Governor Quinn, Senator Durbin, and Federal Railroad Administrator Szabo celebrate reaching 111 MPH (visible in the lower-left corner of the TV). Photo by Harvey Tillis.
LaHood said on the train, “Four years ago, we were nowhere. Illinois and the country was a wasteland when it comes to high-speed rail”. Grid Chicago readers know that Illinois secured over $2 billion in federal grants through President Obama’s ARRA stimulus program to build new tracks, buy new trains, and study a possible new double-track alignment for the Lincoln Service route. Governor Quinn claimed that 111 MPH is the fastest train speed outside of the Northeast Corridor (NEC) in America’s history; however, the Pioneer Zephyr ran from Denver to Chicago and hit a top speed of 112 MPH. The train is on display at the Museum of Science & Industry. The Northeast Corridor is fully electric and has routes that stop at Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C.; Amtrak’s fastest train, the Acela, hits 150 MPH for a short distance.
View this map in a new browser window. Red markers indicate Amtrak stations; larger red markers highlight major stations on the Lincoln Service route from Chicago Union Station to St. Louis, Missouri. Map created using TileMill and freely available GIS shapefiles.
Amtrak’s state-subsidized routes in Illinois have seen year-over-year ridership increases. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has said he would eliminate federal subsidies to Amtrak. Lincoln Service trains have seen speeds improving since last year when significant lengths of brand-new track was laid. Cutting subsidies would likely slow the ridership increases which are based on Americans’ desire for additional and reliable transportation options; passenger rail provides an alternative to high gas prices.
Representative John L. Mica, Florida Republican and chairman of the House Transportation Committee, whose state rejected high-speed rail funding from Washington, supports the profitable Amtrak routes (some in the NEC).
While recognizing the need for a central entity to coordinate routes nationwide, Mr. Mica said the government has no place handling Amtrak’s day-to-day operations. But he acknowledged that some less profitable routes can’t get by without some subsidies.
“I’m for the privatization, and if we can end them, we can,” he said.
The next time Representative Mica goes back to the office, concerned about the profitability of transportation routes, he should check the balance sheets for the nation’s non-tolled highways: 100% of them will be in the red.
Looking west. A complementary bike lane going westbound will be built on Davis Street.
Evanston built its first cycle track this year, on Church Street. It starts at Evanston Township High School, on Church Street and Dodge Avenue, and goes east until Chicago Avenue in the downtown. It’s an interesting and unique piece of infrastructure: a very short portion of the cycle track has a two-way section on the same side of the road, including a part on the sidewalk. It’s very interesting. The cycle track involves one-way, two-way, on-sidewalk, on-street, buffered, and protected designs. This photo tour starts at the high school; all photos are looking east unless otherwise noted.
[This piece also appeared in Checkerboard City, John’s weekly transportation column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets in print on Wednesday evenings.]
“Nelson Algren wrote, ‘It isn’t hard to love a town for its greater and its lesser towers, its pleasant parks or its flashing ballet,’” says Algren scholar Bill Savage, strapping on his bicycle helmet. “‘But you never truly love it until you can love its alleys too.’ So there’s this dynamic in the city between the boulevard and the alley, between the beautiful urban spaces and the place where the garbage and the rats are, and if you really love Chicago you’ve got to love both.”
An English lecturer at Northwestern University, Bill grew up in Rogers Park with his brother, sex advice columnist Dan Savage, and still lives in the neighborhood. “I tell my students, it’s very easy to experience the city secondhand, in books and movies and online,” Bill says. “But if you’re not out there on the pavement, whether on foot or on a bicycle or in a car or on public transportation, you’re missing something.”
Bikeway construction in 2012 continues at a breakneck pace. Crews were installing a buffered bike lane on Franklin Boulevard on Wednesday, between Central Park Avenue/Conservatory Drive and Sacramento Boulevard (0.75 miles) in East Garfield Park. The safety project eliminates a travel lane in each direction, creates a center left turn lane, and refreshes crosswalk markings. Adding a concrete barrier or parked cars could make it a protected bike lane. Read John’s earlier article about bikeways in this neighborhood, Are the upcoming Streets for Cycling projects in good locations?.
The abysmal pavement condition in the bike lane should have been repaired before bike lane markings were striped. The Franklin Boulevard buffered bike lane connects to a conventional bike lane on Central Park Avenue/Conservatory Drive (which connects to a bikeway on Lake Street coming soon). Sacramento Boulevard doesn’t have a bikeway.