Rick Kuner’s Observations from IDOT’s Open House, Oct 8 2013

Citizens for Appropriate Transportation’s Rick Kuner provided this commentary regarding IDOT’s open house, held on October 8, 2013

1. IDOT said the Round 3 Build Alternatives “are the best options.” I continue to believe we are not seeing the best alternatives. IDOT (and its consultants) said they are looking at more use of the CSX right-of-way and whether it is possible to lower the height of the right-hand side ramps proposed at Austin and Harlem. These issues are not resolved yet.

2. The CTA was careful to say their focus is on fixing the current Forest Park Branch of the Blue Line from Clinton to Forest Park. They do not have any money for a Blue Line Extension but will “review” IDOT’s designs.

3. IDOT said the “market served by I-290 is much broader than the market served by transit.” Transit planning makes a distinction between “Choice Riders” who have access to a car but choose to use transit and “Captive Riders” who do not have access to a car, so driving is not an option.

4. IDOT said construction will be done in stages with perhaps a three-year construction period.

5. There was no mention of “Livable Communities” or when IDOT will start the analysis of Environmental Justice.

6. Congestion now exists on the expressway 17 hours a day on a weekday. The best of the four Build Alternatives would reduce this to 16 and one-quarter hours in the Year 2040 assuming IDOT’s projections are correct. Because of the uncertainty of how long a trip will take (known as “Travel Time Reliability”), people allow extra time to be certain at arriving at their destination by a desired time.

7. IDOT says a national study “documents that left side entrances or exit ramps have up to 180% more crashes than right side entrance or exit ramps.” In a literature review of crash studies, the study cited a Florida study of 19 ramps (4 of the 19 had a left-side exit). The same national study cited another study of 158 ramps in North Carolina (33 of the 158 ramps had a left-side entrance or exit) and said left-side ramps have “70 to 150 percent more total crashes than right-side entrances or exits.” IDOT used the highest number they could find to support moving the center ramps to the right-hand si

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