Rahm Emanuel's campaign transportation plan

From Google Cache (broken link) of Chicago For Rahm (broken link). It's also hosted on the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. Made available here because it was removed from his campaign website after the election.

Chicago is an international city and the economic center of the Midwest. Essential to its success and continued growth is a diverse, multi-modal transportation network, linking the city to the region and to the world, and neighborhoods to downtown and to each other. The network of streets, rail, buses, bicycle lanes, and sidewalks links people to jobs, school and recreation and provides affordable transportation options for Chicagoans.

In a challenging economic environment, every dollar invested in infrastructure must solve multiple problems and deliver multiple benefits. Every project should result in a complete street, one that improves security and eliminates delays for everyone, whether walking, biking, driving or taking the bus. Building on Chicago’s Complete Streets policy, Rahm’s plan focuses on the most efficient strategies, investing in upgrading and expanding the train, bus, biking, and walking systems that connect people to jobs, spur economic development, keep neighborhoods affordable and allow more people of all ages and abilities to get around. Rahm’s plan will make the most of limited dollars by ensuring that all departments are working in a coordinated fashion to implement it.

Click here to download a PDF of the plan, or explore each section below. [PDF no longer available]

Improve Public Transportation Options

Public transit offers safe and efficient transportation options that decrease household costs and improve economic competitiveness through reliable and timely access to jobs and services in the neighborhood and region. It is also a key ingredient to reducing the crippling congestion that costs the Chicago region more than $7 billion each year. Rahm will prioritize and expedite transit-friendly developments, expand the Red Line south and revitalize its northside stations, pursue development of Bus Rapid Transit, fight for increased federal funding and a fix to the state transit funding formula, and think creatively about other funding opportunities.

Establish a clear transit-friendly development policy to streamline approvals and prioritize investments

Every transit station attracts riders and development potential, but the City has not fully integrated the goal of improving rail lines and stations into its capital and economic development strategies. Rahm will issue an executive order that establishes clear and consistent principles for transit oriented development – expedited permitting, set-aside of city-owned property to expand car sharing and bike parking, assistance with land assembly, expanded use of tax credits and loan guarantees, and identification of instances where the City will jointly invest with CTA to improve the transit system. The order will recognize the clear link between housing and transportation costs in keeping neighborhoods affordable, and will evaluate improvements on their ability to reduce the combined cost of housing and transportation for Chicago residents. This policy will help to focus all investment – including in Chicago’s TIF districts – around developments that integrate station upgrades with mixed-use developments.

Expand and revitalize the Red Line

The Red Line is the backbone of Chicago’s rail transit system for about half the city, carrying nearly 250,000 riders each workday and accounting for 40% of all CTA rail trips. Rahm’s first transit priority will be a complete overhaul of the Red Line: rebuilding deteriorating tracks south to 95th Street, extending the line south to 130th and renovating and modernizing Red Line stations and track north of Belmont.

This major infrastructure investment will require active and sustained lobbying on the federal and state level for funding, as well as creative use of public-private partnerships around each new station. Rahm will make it a major priority of his administration – just as he did for the Brown line rehab – knowing that this project will not just improve Chicago's transit system, but will also create 4000 good-paying construction jobs, reduce congestion, jumpstart economic development and improve Chicago’s competitiveness. He is committed to securing all necessary federal sign-offs to have all three phases of the project underway in the first year of his administration. Once federal approvals are in place, he will expedite the construction to complete the south side track improvements and station expansions within four years, and complete all north side improvements within seven years.

The south section track repair will improve a ten-mile stretch of track from 18th to 95th Street and eliminate slow zones. As existing track is repaired, the Red Line extension will add four new station south of 95th at 103rd, 111th, 115th and 130th Streets, extending the line an additional 5.5 miles. The extension will provide substantial relief at 95th – the CTA’s busiest station outside of downtown – and significantly improve bus and rail connections and overall service in an area that is heavily dependent upon affordable transit as an essential service. Together, the southern improvements and extensions accomplish several important economic development objectives including improving commute times for far south residents to downtown, establishing convenient bus links to growing far south employment centers and creating regional industrial and commercial development opportunities in and near the new stations.

The Red and Purple Line modernization north of Belmont will repair and improve the 100 year-old transit corridor to eliminate slow zones, improve accessibility for people with disabilities, speed travel times and expand transit options. Improvement of the line is essential to the livability and affordability of the densely populated neighborhoods it serves, and provides a tremendous opportunity to fully realize the economic and environmental benefits of transit oriented development.

The project will require resources from governments at all levels to rebuild and extend the critical infrastructure matched by private investments to create jobs and development in and near transit stations. The project can be expedited, dollars can be leveraged and costs reduced by a strategy that forms a strong partnership between CTA and the City to coordinate planning and investment, maximize state and federal support and attract private investments and job creation. Rahm will start by consolidating project planning and establishing a clear transit oriented development policy to streamline development and prioritize investments.

Pursue Bus Rapid Transit

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a cost-effective strategy employed around the world to expand transit service without having to build costly rail lines. True BRT combines dedicated rights of way, pre-paid boarding signal preemption at intersections and fewer stops to produce a low cost, highly impactful transit service. Rahm will work with the CTA and the Federal Transit Administration to explore where BRT makes the most sense in Chicago and add this service to the arsenal of transit options currently available to all Chicagoans, with a goal of using BRT to connect the City’s rail lines and neighborhoods.

Coordinate planning and project delivery

When City departments and sister agencies plan projects in isolation they miss opportunities to reduce cost, attract outside resources and reduce the disruption to Chicago residents and businesses that often comes with extended construction projects. Rahm will improve efficiency and cut cost by establishing a legacy investment management center to plan, coordinate and oversee all City infrastructure projects, including the Red Line expansion. He will direct all departments to work with CTA to identify opportunities to coordinate resources, design tasks, purchasing power and construction activities to deliver the Red Line and other big projects under budget and ahead of schedule.

Rahm will also strengthen the existing planning ties with relevant regional entities, most notably the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, the Regional Transportation Authority, the Toll Highway Authority and IDOT district one. Rahm recognizes and appreciates the importance of regional connectivity and coordination in transportation planning and, as mayor, will work to insure all investments are maximized to reach their full potential.

Fight for Chicago’s fair share of transportation funding

Well-maintained streets and affordable public transit are critical to Chicago’s and the State’s economic and environmental well being, but Illinois and the federal government don’t pay their fair share. The inequity in transportation funding reflects a lack of adequate state support to the metropolitan area and Chicago transit in particular. Rahm will fight for a fair share for every neighborhood. As importantly, the current transit governance and funding structure disregards the interdependence of the public transportation system and discourages cooperation and the smartest investments.

These structural and financial deficiencies impede innovations that give people options other than driving in frustrating congestion. Rahm will actively lobby to expand state and federal funding, advocate for reform of the State funding formula to ensure adequate resources for critical services, and demand better planning and coordination by CTA, Metra and Pace to enhance customer convenience and increase ridership.

Explore creative funding opportunities

Rahm will task the incoming transportation leadership team to think creatively about funding opportunities to get stations built and service expanded. He will work with the CTA to use more effective strategies like ground leases, air rights, co-development of transit stations, public-private partnerships on new BRT routes, naming rights and increased advertising to attract outside investment.

Expand Chicago's Bicycle Network

More than 60% of trips in Chicago are three miles or less, and bicycles are an increasingly popular mode of transportation, particularly on short commutes to work and between neighborhoods. Over the past decade, the City has added about eight miles of bike lanes each year, but continues to lag far behind many large cities that are expanding their protected bike lane network and offering basic accommodations for bikes in business districts. Rahm supports full implementation of Chicago’s Bike Plan and will initiate a review of its goals and timelines to identify opportunities to expand the plan and accelerate the pace of implementation. He will continue to push the City to be a leader in expanding opportunities for biking, with a goal of also improving walkability and linking these two modes to public transit options.

Make Chicago’s bike lane network the most complete in America

Chicago’s 125 miles of bike lanes cover a small portion of the city’s 5000 miles of roads. Rahm wants to dramatically increase the number of miles added each year – from 8 to 25 – and prioritize the creation of protected bike lanes. His plan is based on a simple premise: create a bike lane network that allows every Chicagoan – from kids on their first ride to senior citizens on their way to the grocery store – to feel safe on our streets.

Under the plan, Chicago would be a pioneer in the creation and expansion of protected bike lanes, which are separated from traveling cars and sit between the sidewalk and a row of parked cars that shield cyclists from street traffic. He will prioritize the lanes on major thoroughfares that link communities to downtown and each other.

Complete the Bloomingdale Trail

The Bloomingdale Trail will be a 2.65-mile multi-use recreational trail built along an elevated rail line along Bloomingdale Avenue on Chicago’s northwest side. The tracks, which are currently unused, will be converted into a safe greenway that accommodates both pedestrian and bike travel, and connects the west side to existing bike lanes that feed into the Loop. There will be multiple access points that double as neighborhood parks and link the trail to existing bike and transit routes. The Damen and Western stops on the Blue Line, the Clybourn Metra station, and the North Avenue, Fullerton, Western Kedzie, Kimball, California, Milwaukee and Ashland busses all pass under, over or nearby the Trail. Thousands of Chicagoans will be able to use the trail to commute to work each morning, and it will serve as a safe route to school for thousands of children who attend one of the 12 public and parochial schools within easy walking distance.

The Trail will be the world's longest elevated trail and a major tourist draw, but more importantly it will significantly increase transportation options for residents on Chicago’s north west side. The cost – $75 million – will be shared by local, federal, corporate and non-profit partners.

Rahm is committed to having the trail built and functional during his first term. He will ensure the City is expediting review of all related permits, and will co-chair the committee to raise private capital for that portion of the fundraising effort. Because the Trail offers safe routes to schools and fits under the Obama administration’s sustainable communities initiative, Rahm will work to leverage federal dollars that are intended for these types of innovative pilot projects.

A spot for every bicycle

Safe bike lanes will help Chicagoans travel through the neighborhoods, but businesses and offices need places to safely store bicycles. Rahm will push an ordinance to change building codes for all office buildings with more than 200 tenants, requiring that they offer protected bike storage facilities at the rate of one spot for every 20 employees in the building. Under the plan, buildings will be able to work together to expand bike parking in the most cost-effective way possible. For new developments, Rahm will work with city departments and local developers to draft a change in the building code that would require secure bike parking based on the square-footage of the development, and offer incentives for increased bike parking, including a reduction in required car parking slots in exchange for enhanced bike parking facilities. He will also task his budget office with devising a plan to offer tax incentives for any company that offers shower and locker facilities on-site for bicycle commuters.

Rahm will also work to replace the bike parking that was lost in neighborhoods when 40,000 parking meters were removed and replaced with the current pay boxes. The meters served the dual purpose of providing a secure base to lock a bike. There are currently 12,000 bike racks, providing 24,000 spaces. Rahm will work to double that number by adding racks and sheltered bike parking in the neighborhoods and downtown to increase convenience and security for bikers who do not have parking at their buildings. Bike parking will be expanded at transit facilities, and co-planned with new car-sharing sites and walkability improvements to make it as easy as possible to get around without a car.

Support and Invest in High Speed and Regional Freight Rail

Make the Midwest a leader in high-speed rail and Chicago the center of the rail network

Historically, Chicago's position as a leader in transportation has been responsible for its growth and its strength. Today, its tourism, convention, retail, banking, and professional services industries all depend on a strong regional transportation network to bring customers to its doors. Railroads built our city, airports and highways secured it, and high-speed rail will ensure its continued vitality.

Rahm is a strong supporter of a Midwest high-speed rail network hubbed in Chicago, which can improve mobility for Chicagoans and Midwesterners, create jobs, reduce pollution and spur economic growth. With all proposed Midwest rail lines coming to Chicago, there is no greater beneficiary of these investments than Chicago. When fully built, this network will provide the equivalent of a mid-sized airport right downtown, but without a single noise complaint. That means a huge boost in sales taxes from local purchases, increased property tax revenue from nearby office buildings and more hotel tax revenues. The city is already benefitting from $1.8 billion being invested in rail service from Chicago to St. Louis and to Detroit - funds that Rahm helped secure.

As mayor, Rahm will be a tireless advocate in Washington, fighting to make sure that Midwest projects – with Chicago as the hub – move forward. He will work with Mayors and willing Governors from around the Midwest to create a strong regional voice for Midwest investments. To ensure that Chicago gets the maximum benefit, he ensure that high-speed rail investments are closely coordinated with transit and other transportation improvements. A high-speed rail terminal, with easy access to other transit options, will be a tremendous anchor that will drive private investments and economic development both around the terminal and for the communities linked to it.

Move beyond planning to upgrade Chicago’s and the region’s freight infrastructure

Chicago is a leader in freight transport. It stands as a major hub for the country, sustaining 17,000 jobs and nearly $2 billion in annual economic activity, but that leadership and the economic benefits that go with it are in jeopardy. Freight rail traffic is projected to double over the next two decades, far outstripping the capacity of Chicago’s and the region’s infrastructure. The congestion and freight rail bottleneck are not just an inconvenience for the businesses that use rail to move goods to market, they are a tremendous threat to Chicago’s economy that must be addressed or Chicago will lose its position as the national leader.

The Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program (CREATE) is a first-of-its-kind partnership between federal, state and city governments, along with Metra, Amtrak and the nation's freight railroads to invest in capital improvements to increase the efficiency of the region's rail infrastructure. Rahm will provide the leadership to move CREATE from an innovative strategy to a fully implemented reality. He will lobby federal and state governments to fully-fund the initiative, and push expedite its implementation.

Rahm also knows that we need to do more than just implement CREATE, we need to seize the economic opportunities that come from it and prepare for what happens after it. Rahm will make sure Chicago is ready – he will direct his administration to assemble large tracts of developable land, coordinate economic development planning and incentives, and implement complementary infrastructure investments to maximize job creation and retention. At the same time, he will work with other public and private sector leaders to establish a framework for long term investment and improvement in freight infrastructure and better coordination with passenger rail service as the demand for that service grows.


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