John and I are still gathering information for our Open Streets article, which will be co-written and published Tuesday. Also on Tuesday is another public meeting about the Bloomingdale Trail, where the designers and consultants will showcase the results of this past weekend’s open house and charrettes (I went on Saturday). I will publish an article about the Tuesday presentation on Thursday, October 6. There are five stories in this edition of Grid Bits.
(1) Taxi drivers
Click on the photo to read the photographer’s caption. I found this by searching on Flickr for “stupid taxi chicago” in order to find people’s opinions. Photo by Nick Normal.
The Chicago Tribune reported on September 23, 2011, that many of the tickets Chicago police give to taxi drivers are dismissed in court. When a taxi driver receives commits three moving violations in one year, they risk having their chauffeur’s license not renewed.
But this year, the process was made automatic: their license is automatically not renewed when they have three moving violations in one year. When tickets are dismissed, the license is renewed and the taxi driver can stay in business. The issue of ticket dismissal is divided in two parts: Dropping cases, and the court jurisdiction. Cases are dropped when police officers or witnesses don’t show up. The City of Chicago’s ticket dismissal rate is 75%, while the Cook County rate is 40%. Taxi drivers are in disproportionately more crashes than the general population (not adjusting for vehicle miles traveled). The Tribune highlights and interviews several taxi drivers who received many tickets. One driver, Matthias Okpe, received 18 tickets since 2008; 16 were dismissed. Read the full story.
(2) Michigan Avenue reconstruction
Michigan Avenue will be reconstructed between Illinois Street and Bellevue Place, a distance of 0.75 miles. Construction should have started Wednesday, September 28, 2011. In addition to the repaving some utilities may be moved (like sewer covers and grates). This project will make for a smoother ride for bicyclists and bus riders. I hope that the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) will repave other sections of Michigan Avenue, especially where buses stop (concrete bus pads are ideal). The intersection of Randolph Street and Michigan Avenue should be redesigned and reconstructed. Pedestrians are not allowed to cross Michigan on the south side of Randolph, making a crossing here take the time of three signal phases; funneling pedestrians into a single crossing overcrowds the sidewalks. The pavement quality and utility placement is such that it makes it dangerous to ride a bicycle through the intersection, no matter west, south, or northbound – there are large bumps and cracks. From Alderman Reilly’s (42nd Ward) weekly newsletter. Construction will complete in early to mid-November.
(3) Gas stations defrauding the State of Illinois
Attorney General Lisa Madigan is in the middle of an investigation of gas stations in Illinois who are not remitting the sales tax they collect from consumers to the Illinois treasury. Customers are paying the sales tax that state law mandates but the state is not receiving it. This matters to all users of the road, including sustainable and active transportation advocates, because this money goes to funds that pay for transit projects and operations, and are also used to match federal funding for pedestrian and bicycle projects. The Chicago Tribune reported on this on September 25, 2011.
(4) Perhaps a new CTA station in the Loop
Say goodbye to this downtown eye sore. Photo by Norma Fernandez.
Back in 1998, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) discussed plans for a super station that would replace Randolph/Wabash, and remove State/Lake, and Madison/Wabash, with entrances on all three streets. Then in 2003 it announced that it made an agreement with CDOT to design a new elevated ‘L’ station at Washington/Wabash to replace the stations at Madison/Wabash and Randolph/Wabash. Both are dated and inaccessible. Fast forward 8 years and the plans are back in motion (State/Lake would remain). CDOT, which often designs and constructs stations for CTA, has applied for $3.6 million in funding from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program (CMAQ). The full cost is estimated to be $$63.6 million (PDF).
(5) UP-North bridge replacement to restart
Union Pacific and Metra will replace 22 bridges on the UP-North Metra line (downtown Chicago to Waukegan, and Kenosha, Wisconsin) in two phases. The first phase will take place at 11 crossings, including at Lawrence (Ravenswood station) and Irving Park. The first attempt at this construction failed because of many customers’ complaints: Metra had drastically adjusted the schedule, grouping fewer trains at rush hour times so they could operate on one track. This time, they will keep both tracks open, at an additional cost of $42.4 million. A new Ravenswood station will be constructed, with longer platforms and ramps to become accessible – it should be finished in 2013.
The Urbanophile wrote in August 2010 that Metra’s original plans permanently destroyed future opportunities to build a third track in this right of way. It seems that plans have changed. In Metra’s newsletter, “On The Bi-Level” (April 2011), they published drawings and an explanation that the bridges would be built in such a way that wouldn’t prevent the construction of a third track and bridge in the future, “if there is demand and money to do so“. Read more on Metra’s website, and find station plans at the Center Square Journal.
Existing Ravenswood station. Photo by Eric Pancer.
Rendering of proposed Ravenswood station. Photo by Eric Pancer.
A UP-North bridge at Berteau Avenue that will be replaced. Photo by Mike Innocenzi.