Tuesday, May 26, 2009

2035 Plan Update

Finally, your moderator has updated the CTA 2035 Dream Map. You may notice some of the suggestions posted at the Chicagotransit group are now incorporated, namely:
  • Routing of South Chicago LRT through South Works Redevelopment Site.
  • Density map is now online via a separate link. It uses 2000 census data. This layer also includes some potential transit-oriented development sites. Be aware that it gets a little busy.
  • Central Area detail map is now shown, with some detailed proposals not available on the larger map.
Some other changes:
  • Clinton Ave. Subway now extends south, as shown in draft CAAP.
  • Straightened out Kimball/Kedzie through the West/SW sides.
  • Straightened out the "Pink" line through Pilsen.
Responding to some of the excellent comments on the previous version considered but not addressed:
  • Western Ave. subway vs. LRT -- a possibility, but could be done successfully as LRT in my view. The system I had in mind was the Spadina LRT in Toronto (similar roadway width /streetscape). The potential is to upgrade the currently somewhat bland character of Western Ave. With a surface/median-running LRT route, connections with heavy rapid transit could be made underground as is done along Spadina.
  • Stony Island for LRT is an interesting possibility. As proposed, transit density on the SE side is pretty high...I can almost see a Stony Island/63rd/MLK spine LRT route, but could the Green Line survive this competition...dream on!
  • I didn't tear down the Loop -- don't worry!
As mentioned earlier this proposal is more about increasing and reorienting density than it is about the transit itself. For instance, some nodes now typified by 3- and 4-flats (think Six Corners) would be prime for 6-10 (and more) stories within a block of the station, scaling down to the neighborhood level beyond this. Uses would be more diverse. Aerial photos of Yonge Street in Toronto before and after subway construction are instructive of the types of development patterns that can take hold.

This is decidedly different than the type of pre-war development we had, with density gradients much flatter reflective of the station spacings of 1/4 mile or even less along many elevated lines. The wider spacings proposed give rise to a much "spikier" density gradient. Density effectively drops to zero through creation of post-industrial landscape parks that finger though the neighborhoods.

As to regional/Metra coordination I agree this is an important transportation purpose and one to look at, but admittedly my primary goal is to refocus the city proper and give itself a framework for the massive investment required to transition to a modern, world-class and one-of-a-kind metropolis. Density and linkages are key. I like the fact the CAAP is looking at doing the "little things" that matter, i.e. new pedestrian connections across the river.

Some future projects/embellishments I have in mind:
  • A phasing plan (already in the works).
  • Rough ridership projections, perhaps using Pushkarev-type modeling based on land use (discredited by many I know).
  • Metra/Regional coordination.
As always, your comments are welcomed and appreciated.