Quickly: Union Station Master Plan study released today at breakfast on vintage train

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Paul Nowicki, assistant vice president of government and policy at BNSF and MPC board member, speaks before breakfast on one of his company’s executive inspection trains. Photos by Ryan Griffin-Stegink, courtesy of Metropolitan Planning Council.

I had breakfast this morning with planning and railroad industry folks on a BNSF Railway train built a few decades ago to celebrate the release of the Chicago Department of Transportation’s Union Station Master Plan Study. The breakfast was hosted by BNSF (operator of the Metra BNSF Railway to Aurora, Illinois) and Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), one of the plan’s many partners.

Download the entire study (6 MB .pdf), or view it in parts on the Master Plan’s official website. Read MPC’s blog about the project.

There was a public meeting about the Master Plan in December 2011 and CDOT collected feedback from the public about its intentions to increase capacity, enhance the flow of and general experience for passengers, among other upgrades. The plan divides investments into three parts: short, medium, and long term.

Short term investments are already underway. They comprise the Central Loop BRT, the Union Station bus transfer center for CTA buses (shuttle and Megabus are a distant possibility as CTA’s needs must come first), and reconstructing the Canal Street viaduct from Madison to Taylor Streets.

View more of MPC’s photos.

3 thoughts on “Quickly: Union Station Master Plan study released today at breakfast on vintage train”

  1. Fantastic.  I’m strongly in favor of the improvements laid out here; the only problem is that the short and medium-term improvements should have been done 10 years ago.  Given their relatively small pricetag, it seems like it should be relatively easy to find funding.  At the very least, this should be the first capital-spending priority for Metra, not system expansions.

    The plan notes several times that Metra officials see very little demand for through service; this should not be construed as an absolute truth.  Substantial demand exists for a commuter-rail network that serves a handful of destinations in the Central Area instead of just 4 huge terminals.  Universities are the easiest example; I’m sure a south-suburban student heading to DePaul or a north-shore resident heading to UIC would appreciate a direct train to Clybourn or Halsted respectively.

    Also: the detailed engineering studies of the Clinton/Canal tunnels are cool and very visionary.  Only $850 million?  We can’t even build the Red Line extension for that.

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