Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: metraRI, JamesT4

  by orangeline
Today's Trib has a story about 3 proposed routings for a future Circle Line. They are:

1. Ashland corridor, basically the Circle Line routing first proposed several years ago.

2. Ashland/Ogden corridor -- The Ashland routing until Ogden Ave, then northeast on Ogden and north on Halsted.

3. Western corridor -- completely new routing north from Archer Ave along Western Ave.

All three routings would have the Orange Line route along Archer Ave as the southern border and somewhere in the area of Fullerton Ave as the northern border. The Western corridor would encompass the greatest service area. The new Pink Line starting in June will use a portion of the Ashland corridor between 18th St and Lake St and the Ashland/Ogden corridor between 18th St and a future Madison St. station. Both involve the recently rehabbed Paulina Connector.

Public hearings on the project have already been announced and the basic planning will be completed in 3 phases ending early next year.

What's surprising to me is this is the first time I've heard of more than one option for the Circle Line.

Any thoughts or opinions?

  by doepack
The other two options are new to me as well, and both would require a lot of new construction, especially option 3, which is quite ambitous in scope. Western Ave is indeed a busy corridor, but the traffic headaches that would surely result from tearing up a portion of this major arterial street to construct a transit line wouldn't be worth it in the long run. The only benefit that this alignment offers is that fewer Metra transfer stations would have to built, since the two current Metra stations along Western Ave would suffice, although the other transfer stations at other locations would still need to be built to compliment the project.

Remember, the intended goal of the Circle line is to connect all of CTA's rapid transit lines to Metra commuter lines in a more efficient fashion that allows users to transfer between the two without having to go into the Loop. The original plan as conceptualized several years ago would seem to do this quite nicely, IMO...

  by Kablam76
Seems to me that a fourth routing would be just as good: ditching the plan for now and running the Red Line extension that has been proposed since, what, 1970? And now, the extension is under a five-year study, putting it off for even longer. Take some stress off of 95th/Ryan and give people alternatives to the bus or the Metra Electric. As usual though, the lack of a great many people to recognize south siders as actual human beings means that most people don’t care and the residents get shafted.

Does anybody else find it amusing that the Circle Line is a little lopsided? A connection to 35th or Bronzeville-IIT would make it a little more of a circle and allow faster access to Comiskey (yeah, NOT US Cellular), but would be more expensive and probably a little impractical.

Also, has anybody taken into consideration the opposition that might come from stopping Metra trains at very close distances to their downtown terminals to allow for transfers at the new CTA/Metra Circle Line transfer points? Inbound Metra trains, depending on the amount of passengers being unloaded, would probably stop for a long enough period to of time to cause an unpleasant delay to riders, and the outbound rides would probably be full by the time they stop to pick up transfers.

  by orangeline
I understand the frustration that Southsiders might feel at a perceived lack of transportation alternatives. But then again, when the Green Line was being rebuilt back in '94 and '95, wasn't it the local community who demanded that the L be cut back on East 63rd because it was an eyesore? I think many wanted it demolished completely! I wonder if they now regret their decision?

I'm sure at some point the Red Line and Orange Line will be extended south. However, in my opinion, an L line which allows for connections to other L trains without forcing people to go all the way downtown is an absolute necessity. I think it might encourage more passengers to use the system.

As for Metra, I don't think that many passengers would be inconvenienced by an additional stop. My local line, the BNSF intersects with the Douglas branch of the Blue Line (think Pink!) in two places, within a block of the Kedzie station and just north of 18th St. A new Metra station connecting to the CTA Kedzie station might be practical to do and I think there might be enough potential users to justify it. Many BNSF trains already stop at Western and Clyde stations where at best a handful of passengers get on/off at any time. Besides, it's not like every Metra train would stop there!

  by doepack
orangeline wrote:I understand the frustration that Southsiders might feel at a perceived lack of transportation alternatives. But then again, when the Green Line was being rebuilt back in '94 and '95, wasn't it the local community who demanded that the L be cut back on East 63rd because it was an eyesore? I think many wanted it demolished completely! I wonder if they now regret their decision
The East 63rd branch of the Green line once went all the way to Jackson Park, at the intersection of 63rd and Stony Island Ave. In 1982, due to a bridge defect over the Illinois Central Railroad about two blocks west, service on this branch was truncated to University Ave, while the bridge and elevated structure east of there were demolished. When this line closed for rehab in 1994, there were plans to build a new station at Dorchester, complete with a connection to the nearby Metra Electric station at 63rd St, and indeed, the station was actually built. But, thanks in no small part to the right (or should that be wrong?) Reverend Arthur Brazier, and his supporters, not only was this station never used, but it was actually torn down! Why? Because Rev. Brazier believed that the restoration of elevated rapid transit service to the area would somehow prove detrimental to the growth and development of the Woodlawn community, even though there was still little economic growth and development in Woodlawn along 63rd St. and the immediate vicinity in the years following the 1982 demolition of the 'L' structure. Even when the line re-opened to its current Cottage Grove terminal in 1996, there were still vast areas of vacant lots surrounded by liquor stores and currency exchanges. As a result, CTA forfeited millions of federal dollars in building a station that would never be used, thanks to the considerable clout of a popular, but selfish and myopic evangelist who effectively robbed his constituents of what would've been a valuable transit option, especially with the link to the Metra station. And yet, many of those same constituents who would've benefitted the most from this transit upgrade in their community continue to fill his church every Sunday, not unlike mindless little sheep. Just pathetic...

  by orangeline

This kind of thing isn't unique to Chicago. It has been said that when NYC tore down the Bronx remnants of the 3rd Ave el and instituted bustitution, the neighborhoods along the route went into a rapid decline, this despite expectations that exposure of the street to sun and "fresh" air would result in a great benefit to residents. Seems the transit line provided tangible direct link to the rest of the city that a GM bus just couldn't match.

  by doepack
I understand that, but the intermodal transit connection between Metra and CTA at that location had been talked about for years, and just when it's on the brink of being a reality, this fiasco has likely ensured that it will never be built. No one will ever know for sure if Rev. Brazier's prophecy would've come true if the original plans had been allowed to be completed, but it's hard for me to imagine that citizens of Woodlawn would not have benefitted from improved access to jobs, shopping, and schools. That, plus the wasted federal dollars is what makes this so tragic...