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Future Chicago L map

jordanb

Cyburbian
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3,232
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25
I made a map of the L that contains all the planned extentions that aren't stupid and a few lines that I'd like to see built.

The black lines are existing lines, the red are planned lines (all in Cats Shared Path 2030 I believe) and the green are the "vision" lines (ie: I came up with them).

The circles around each station are to denote distance. The green is 1/4 of a mile from the station (about a three minute walk), the purple is 1/2 of a mile (about five minutes) and the tan circle is 3/4 of a mile (or about 8 minutes).



Here's a closup of the central area:



Planned extentions:

Mid-city line

This line runs along the far west side and mid-south side. it's been in the transit plans since the '70s but there's been no movement on building it. It is estimated to only cost about a billion dollars because it can be put in an old railway ROW that the city already owns. Note: yes, it does follow the path of the cancelled crosstown expressway. People started thinking about an L line when that project started dying.

The primary advantage of the line is that it'll create a direct link between O'hare and Midway airports. That could be more important now that Midway is becoming a very busy airport again, but all the neighborhoods it runs through are ether poor or low-density bungalow neighborhoods (with plenty of NIMBYs) so it dosen't have a whole lot of political backing.

Circle Line

Next planned arc in, connecting the orange line in the south to the red line in the north. The CTA unveiled this line last year, and its primary purpose is to improve circulation through downtown by relieving congestion on the Loop (see the suggested train routing diagram below), but it would also make many crosstown trips easier. The CTA and city have been pushing it hard since it was released, so I think it has a good chance of getting TEA funds. It's estimated to cost "more than" $1 billion. Here's more information about it: http://www.chicago-l.org/plans/CircleLine.html

Grey Line

The planned line starts downtown and heads south, branching to go to south chicago and rock island. The plan is to convert the existing Metra Electric commuter line into a CTA rapid transit line. The current propsal is just to have Metra turn operations over to the CTA, who would operate it using existing Metra equipment. It's estimated that that would cost about $100 million for the conversion, but an engineering study hasn't been conducted yet. I would suggest that the line be converted to rapid transit vehicles so they can connect to the "vision" north lakeshore line. That would require the heavier metra trains to be moved to new tracks. The ROW is wide enough to have new tracks installed, so it'd just be a matter of paying for installation and converting the existing line to third rail. Here's the website for the grey line: http://grayline.20m.com

Clinton Street Subway

This is part of the Central Area Plan. It's the small mile-long north-south line inward from the circle line. The area around Clinton street was built up in the 90s with the assumption that rapid transit would be built to it. The right of way has been preserved so tunneling would be fairly straight-forward. The line would create a loop around which trains could be routed much the way they are in the existing loop, only this one would be underground. See the suggested route diagram below to see how that would work. The Central Area Plan has been well-recieved by downtown landlords, and it has been suggested that a downtown tax be implemented to pay for it, in which case, it would not have to fight for federal TEA funds. Considering that the near west side was and continues to be developed with the expectation that this line will be built, it has a pretty good shot at funding.

"Vision" Extentions

These are lines that haven't been proposed but I think would be a good idea.

North Lakeshore Line

This would extend north from the terminal of the "Grey Line" at Randolph street via a tunnel through Illinois Central and Streeterville. This would provide much-needed 1/4mile access to rapid transit to that very built up area. It would then turn in and run under the western edge of Lincoln park with stations at Oak Street Beach, North Avenue, Armatage, and Fullerton, it'd then turn back east and run (possibly elevated) along Marine Drive or Lake Shore Drive to about Larwence, where it'd turn west and connect to the northern most portion of the Ravenswood line. That line would then be extended west to link up with the O'Hare line in Jefferson Park. The end of the Ravenswood line would probably have to be elevated so the increased train traffic dosen't make it impossible to get across the tracks during rush hour, and the Kedzie station should be closed, it's redundant.

The line would be very expensive, probably between $4 billion and $5 billion. That's probably why no such line has been proposed yet as there is obviously a need for it.

Humbalt Park Line

This line would branch off the O'hare line at North Avenue and run along (near) North Avenue to Grand, on which it would run to the edge of the city. There used to be a Humbalt Park line on the L that followed the same course as far as Laramie, but it was shut down and demolished in the '60s. Due to the gentrifaction of Humbalt park, I think the line should be ressurected. I have no idea how much the line would cost. It'd depend primarily on how much of the original ROW has been preserved.

Here is a suggested route map. Because there are more lines than primary colors, I gave them letters, which I placed at both ends of the lines to make where they run more obvious.



And a closeup of the Central Area, notice the new western loop:

 
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jordanb

Cyburbian
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3,232
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25
Oh, this should have gone in the transportation forum...

(Dan) ... and, using the mighty powers of vBulletin admistration, it was made so.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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Chicago really doesn't have any crosstown El lines, although they've been proposed in the past. Are there any suitable rights-of-way where such a line could go without raising neighborhood opposition?

Interesting routing of a new South Shore El line. What would happen to the existing Metra University Park and NICTD South Shore lines?

Technical question: what program did you use to draw the map? I've been trying to find a free or commercial vector drawing program that can be used to make a transit map. Adobe Illustrator doesn't do the job without an expensive third party plug-in.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
Points
25
Dan said:
Chicago really doesn't have any crosstown El lines, although they've been proposed in the past. Are there any suitable rights-of-way where such a line could go without raising neighborhood opposition?

Cross town, you mean north south or east west? The far north-south line would use existing but abandoned freight rail ROW. It follows the course of the cancelled Crosstown Expressway. I don't know about the southern east-west leg of it, but it's been in expansion plans since the 70s so I'd be suprised if there weren't some effort to preserve the ROW.

For the circle line, the track between the "G" and "S" lines already exists, but not in revenue service. It's being upgraded through the Blue line (R line there) renovation project, presumably for eventual inclusion in the circle line. South of that is through a mostly industral area so there shouldn't be too many problems. North of that would almost certanly have to be tunneled.

The northern-most east-west crosstown line probably would have NIMBY problems because it goes through the bungalow belt, but tunneling it might be a possiblility because the outer edge of that existing line runs at grade level.

Interesting routing of a new South Shore El line. What would happen to the existing Metra University Park and NICTD South Shore lines?

The current plan calls for the line to continue using existing Metra plant (the "highlander" bi-level electric trains). Those aren't good rapid transit vehicles and using them will preclude a tunnel through streeterville, so they'd probably be replaced with CTA cars in short order. To do that, a third rail would have to be added to the tracks and the South Shore and Metra line to University Park would have to be moved off the tracks. The IC right of way is big enough to do that, but I don't know if there are tracks for that. ISTR at least four tracks along most of it last time I rode it, so it might just be a matter of putting catenary up on the other two tracks, but the right of way is big enough for eleven tracks! so there certanly is room.

Technical question: what program did you use to draw the map? I've been trying to find a free or commercial vector drawing program that can be used to make a transit map. Adobe Illustrator doesn't do the job without an expensive third party plug-in.

I actually just used the Gimp. I scanned an image of the CTA map, traced the existing lines in a new layer, then used landmarks from the map to draw the future lines. I made the distance circles by measuring how many pixles long the rule on the CTA map was and then made new brushes with the proper radii. I was able to make the closeup because I used a huge image size originally (the central area view is 1:1 scale with the original image) and then scaled it down appropriately.

I would have prefered to use a vector drawer, but I've not found one that's any good ether. It needs to handle bitmaps really well and have levels support at least.
 
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Cardinal

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10,080
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Really nice. The O'Hare - Midway connection and the service it would provide to Chicago's western edge is an interesting idea. This seems to address one of Chicago's problems that the rail systems are all radial, without many connections across the network. Are there plans to tie these into the Metra system as well?
 

jordanb

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3,232
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25
Cardinal said:
Are there plans to tie these into the Metra system as well?

The Clinton Street subway run down the street right next to Union and Northwestern stations. The plan calls for two new subway stations to be built that physically connect to those two stations. Because Amtrak owns Union Station, that should be fairly strightforward, but I wouldn't be at all suprised if the Metra tried to prevent the Northwest Station connection from happening.

Many of the new Circle Line stations will be right next to Metra stations, and the CTA suggested that the stations should be linked to provide easier mobility for Metra customers through the central area. Metra basically said "no ****ing way."
 

Repo Man

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I would really like to see it extended to Kenosha, WI. The Metra runs from there, but something more frequent would be great for us Cheeseheads that don't like driving around downtown.
 

Cardinal

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jordanb said:
The Clinton Street subway run down the street right next to Union and Northwestern stations. The plan calls for two new subway stations to be built that physically connect to those two stations. Because Amtrak owns Union Station, that should be fairly strightforward, but I wouldn't be at all suprised if the Metra tried to prevent the Northwest Station connection from happening.

Many of the new Circle Line stations will be right next to Metra stations, and the CTA suggested that the stations should be linked to provide easier mobility for Metra customers through the central area. Metra basically said "no ****ing way."

Why would Metra object? I take the train into the city almost every time I visit, and find that the lack of suitable connections (i.e., I don't want to ride a bus with Those People) from the outer stations is one of the biggest impediments to using Metra.
 

jordanb

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Cardinal said:
Why would Metra object? I take the train into the city almost every time I visit, and find that the lack of suitable connections (i.e., I don't want to ride a bus with Those People) from the outer stations is one of the biggest impediments to using Metra.

The Metra is controlled by the suburbs. IIRC, the president (Jeffrey Ladd, a real a**hole) is appointed by the collar counties, Cook dosen't even get a say in it. As a result, Metra is extremely antagonistic to the city in general and the CTA in specific. Just look at the idiotic "STAR" line that Metra wants to build from Schaumberg to Joliet. How many people do you think would use a commuter rail line between those two cities? I saw Ladd quoted to the effect that "for too long, Metra has provided service between the suburbs and city, now we can provide service between suburbs." Right.

At any rate, when the CTA proposed the Circle Line, I think the Metra's complaint was that the majority of their passengers work within walking distance of the Metra stations and it'd be a waste of money. You'd think they'd come up with a better excuse than that. They used the money excuse on the Grey Line as well. If that project is to happen, the state government will have to force the Metra to turn over operations, because they surely aren't going to do it willingly; even though they provide bare-minimum service on the line currently.
 

jordanb

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Repo Man said:
I would really like to see it extended to Kenosha, WI. The Metra runs from there, but something more frequent would be great for us Cheeseheads that don't like driving around downtown.

I don't really thing a suburban area like that could support a rapid transit line. Off-peak Metra trains run near empty even though they have hour headways between them. If you have trains running at 10 minute headways, there'll be maybe two or three people in each.
 

jresta

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that's cool - i've been working on something similar with GIS. Maybe when i'm finished i'll post it.

I was mostly impressed with CTA when i was there and I did use Metra to go down to Pullman Village. Given the solid grid that Chicago is it's pretty easy to follow.

Walking - most people walk 3 mph. A brisk walker can cover 4 mph. 6 mph is considered jogging. So normally 1/4 mile is a 5 minute walk and a 1/2 mile is 10 minutes. For us fast walking city folk it might be more like 4 minutes for 1/4 mile.

The walking threshold for rapid transit is normally 5 minutes but it could be further or shorter depending on the walking environment and what people are using it for. If people are just using it for home to work trips (like commuter rail) that radius normally expands to a 10 minute walk because they're only doing it twice a day and don't mind a bit of a longer walk.
 

mendelman

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Metra v CTA

I rarely get a chance to ride Metra, even though I live in the city and work in the 'burbs. When I have, it was great. My work is not in a feasible location for access/use of Metra, so the car it must be.

I would love to ride CTA EL more often. It works so much better that the buses. I hate buses. They are so inefficient for urban public transit. It takes my wife, on weekdays, about 45mins to an hour to go from Jackson and Dearborn to Clark and Armitage, which is two miles:-(

jordanb, I really like the idea of the large loop EL and the EL running along Lincoln Park in Lincoln Park. The crosstowns (east/west, north/south) are really great too. I read most of the website for the Greyline proposal. It seemed to make sense to me for an area of the city that is woefully underserved with rapid transit.

We really do need to get away from the radial system we have. It is weak.

Edit: I forgot to mention the ancient level of technology that most EL represent. They are mostly 1900 technology, especially for most of the elevated parts. Have you ever been under the brownline at Armitage when a train passes over? It'll knock the teeth out of your mouth.

My knowledge of CTA and rail technology is admittecly limited, but isn't quieter technology available that could be utilized. I personally like elevated over subterrenaen(sp?), but it's so gosh durn loud.
 
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pete-rock

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jordanb, very cool maps, and great ideas.

Two things. The same east-west transit issues that you try to address (with your "vision" lines) on the North Side exist on the South Side, too. Try traveling eastward on 79th Street, for example, to visit Rainbow Beach in the summer. It's just like traveling on Fullerton, Addison, Irving, etc. A connection of your proposed Mid-City Line with the Grey Line (along 95th Street, possibly) would be a great addition.

Also, I'd heard that the CTA studied a possible extension of the Red Line to the Hegwisch neighborhood, all the way to 130th Street, using the Bishop Ford Expy. ROW. If the Grey Line was built, however, that wouldn't be needed.
 

jordanb

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jresta said:
Walking - most people walk 3 mph. A brisk walker can cover 4 mph. 6 mph is considered jogging. So normally 1/4 mile is a 5 minute walk and a 1/2 mile is 10 minutes. For us fast walking city folk it might be more like 4 minutes for 1/4 mile.

Well, my L station is almost exactly 1/2 a mile distant (I measured it in mapquest), and it takes me just under seven minutes from my front door to the platform, so I figured about two minutes to get out of my building and get through the turnstyle and up the stairs to the platform. I admit that I'm a faster walker than most, but I still doubt it takes the average urbanite more than seven minutes to nock off a half mile.

The walking threshold for rapid transit is normally 5 minutes but it could be further or shorter depending on the walking environment and what people are using it for. If people are just using it for home to work trips (like commuter rail) that radius normally expands to a 10 minute walk because they're only doing it twice a day and don't mind a bit of a longer walk.

I know people who walk up to a mile to get to the L for their commute, but they're a fairly small minority, that's why I made the widest circle three-quarters of a mile. Also remember that a half-mile in the city is much shorter than a half-mile in the suburbs. I routenly walk to my L station to go on errands (although I try to use closer bus lines when possible). When I have friends in town and we walk to the L, I usually like to tell them that we just walked a half-mile when we get to the L station. They don't believe me.
 

jordanb

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Re: Metra v CTA

mendelman said:
I would love to ride CTA EL more often. It works so much better that the buses. I hate buses. They are so inefficient for urban public transit. It takes my wife, on weekdays, about 45mins to an hour to go from Jackson and Dearborn to Clark and Armitage, which is two miles:-(

Christ. Has she thought about walking?

My knowledge of CTA and rail technology is admittecly limited, but isn't quieter technology available that could be utilized. I personally like elevated over subterrenaen(sp?), but it's so gosh durn loud.

Yeah, they can be made much quiter now. concrete structure vibrates much less than the old steel structure, welded rails don't have the gaps in them that trains clank over, and they make noise walls now that are about as high as the trucks and tend to block a lot of wheel noise. Better maintence would be a plus on many parts of the L too.

Try taking the orange line some time. It is a very modern elevated line and has most of those technologies implemented, it's significantly quieter.

Ironically, though, most people I know who live next to the L don't mind it at all. You get used to it very quickly.
 
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jordanb

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pete-rock said:
jordanb, very cool maps, and great ideas.

Two things. The same east-west transit issues that you try to address (with your "vision" lines) on the North Side exist on the South Side, too. Try traveling eastward on 79th Street, for example, to visit Rainbow Beach in the summer. It's just like traveling on Fullerton, Addison, Irving, etc. A connection of your proposed Mid-City Line with the Grey Line (along 95th Street, possibly) would be a great addition.

Yeah, I looked at that. I left it the way it way because I didn't want to deviate from plans too much. It seems like a no-brainer to connect the two if the grey line happens, though. It might also be a good idea to resurrect the kenwood branch to the green line. That could open up routing possibilites too, like making the south shore branch its own line and sending it to the loop. Apperently, the kenwood viaduct is almost entirely intact, so it'd just be a matter of installing hardware.

Also, I'd heard that the CTA studied a possible extension of the Red Line to the Hegwisch neighborhood, all the way to 130th Street, using the Bishop Ford Expy. ROW. If the Grey Line was built, however, that wouldn't be needed.

The guy who came up with the grey line pointed out that it would negate the need for a red line extension as a benefit. Apperently people down there don't like the red line too much. I wouldn't ether, expressway median lines are crap.
 

jresta

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jordanb said:
I know people who walk up to a mile to get to the L for their commute, but they're a fairly small minority, that's why I made the widest circle three-quarters of a mile. Also remember that a half-mile in the city is much shorter than a half-mile in the suburbs. I routenly walk to my L station to go on errands (although I try to use closer bus lines when possible). When I have friends in town and we walk to the L, I usually like to tell them that we just walked a half-mile when we get to the L station. They don't believe me. [/B]

I was just pointing it out because most people aren't as dedicated to not owning a car as we are so for the purposes of attracting ridership the 1/4 mile, 1/2 mile limits are used as a general rule. Beyond 1/4 mile ridership for non-work trips drops off dramatically and light/heavy rail depend on those non-work trips spread throughout the day to justify its existence. In cities where the majority of households have a car, which is all American cities, (Philly is #2 for highest % of households with no car) this is extremely important. I understand what you mean in saying that walking distances in the city "feel" shorter and that's well and good for encouraging people to walk but being in the city can't make you walk any faster than you're physically capable.


jordanb said:
Well, my L station is almost exactly 1/2 a mile distant (I measured it in mapquest), and it takes me just under seven minutes from my front door to the platform, so I figured about two minutes to get out of my building and get through the turnstyle and up the stairs to the platform. I admit that I'm a faster walker than most, but I still doubt it takes the average urbanite more than seven minutes to nock off a half mile.

If you are walking 4 miles an hour you'll cover a mile every 15 minutes or a half mile every 7.5 minutes. If you cut 90 yards off of your 1/2 mile you're also cutting a minute in travel time.

I normally ride my bike to work. It's just under 2 miles and the bike ride takes me anywhere from 7 to 10 minutes depending on how fast i'm riding and how many lights i have to turn for. Our downtown is all one-way streets so if a light is red i make the appropriate left or right hand turn to avoid waiting for the light (not that i would actually wait for the light to green.)

If i take the subway (two blocks from my place) and change to the El (at the front door of my work) it can take as little as 15 minutes or as much as 25.

If I feel like wasting time and take the bus (at my front door) to work (at the front door) it can take me as little as 25 minutes or as long as an hour.

I can walk the same route in anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes depending on what shoes i'm wearing, what i'm carrying, and how hot it is. It's very difficult to keep up a pace of 4mph under less than ideal conditions for distances over 1/2 mile - not unless you want to get there sweaty and disheveled.
 

jordanb

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I think we're thinking about this a little differently. I'm interested in getting good rapid-transit access to as much of chicago's population as possible. I think 1/2 mile access is totally adequate and 3/4ths mile is still useful. Sure, many people in those zones will still drive and that's unfortunate, but the idea here isn't to increase ridership so much, but to simply provide the service and let people do with it what they will. I know people who would drive if the L station was right next door, because that's the mindset they have. No amount of transit coverage is going to change that.

I like the north shore line so much, though, because it'll provide 1/4th mile access to east streeterville and the north shore higrises. I think there is a lot of utility in providing really convenient rapid transit access to 40 story towers.

One thing that concerns me about many of the planned extentions is that they plow through mostly bungalow belt. I think that those areas should be zoned up to allow the increased density that would form if it were allowed to around those stations.
 
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