Building Arrives Just As Neighborhood Leaves

3200 N. ClarkAt the corner of Belmont and Clark, the Dunkin’ Donuts, better known as Punkin’ Donuts, is gone and they have started construction on this beautiful, new $50 million condo building.

Wonder if they’ll tell prospective condo buyers that two full blocks of Clark St. just north of their new address will soon be leveled and replaced by a 45 ft. high cement Skyway-style CTA Flyover?

Lovely building. Too bad it’s arriving just as the neighborhood is leaving.

highwayflyovercroppedRead more about the new building in DNA:
Tunney Touts Belmont-Clark As ‘Catalyst’ To Improving Safety, Development
By Ariel Cheung, DNA Lakeview, 8/13/2015

Can one building draw business, discourage crime and designate Belmont and Clark as an “iconic” Chicago intersection?

It’s a tall order, but after breaking ground on the mixed-use development on Wednesday, officials think it will stand up to the challenge.

“The 24/7 development will add so much vitality and safety into this intersection, and that’s been one of our problems, safety in our neighborhood,” Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said. “We think economic development can … make it a safer neighborhood.”

Adding Bike Lanes, Gutting Lakeview

girl on bikeAll around Chicago, we’re intentionally slowing things down. Chicago is proudly revitalizing neighborhoods by adding protected bike lanes and relaxing traffic patterns to bring back local business, reinvigorate community life.

Meanwhile, the CTA plans to gut the heart of Lakeview, including  blocks of Clark St., an historic shopping street – turning one of the city’s top theater, restaurant, entertainment and residential communities into permanent under El wasteland with a huge cement Skyway-style Brown Line Flyover overhead, all to shave 20-30 seconds off what is already by far the best commute in Chicago.

Goodbye, Central Lakeview. Hello, Skyway.
Maybe we should think again? See article below:
highwayflyovercroppedModern Road Design in Five Words: Cities Aren’t Hoses, They’re Gardens
Streetsblog Chicago, 8/10/15
By Michael Anderson, blogging for The Green Lane Project

Excerpt from the article:
He begins with the story of a recent day when he turned on a hose for a friend watering a garden. At first he opened the valve all the way, but it was too much; his friend asked him to turn the flow down a bit so she wouldn’t damage the plants.

If our big goal as a city was to keep the most water flowing, then designing streets to maximize volume would be the obvious solution.

And in fact, that’s how traffic engineers have traditionally thought of traffic, as cars circulating like blood through corporeal arteries. Just like cholesterol clogging arteries, congestion was seen as inherent vice. A lot of money, public space, and social resources were spent on unclogging our streets to maximizing the “flow” of cars.

But the problem is that cities aren’t the hoses, they’re the gardens. Just like you don’t want to water your tomatoes with a fire hose, you don’t want to maximize traffic flow in a neighborhood. We need to stop focusing on the water, and start focusing on the plants. How much water do they need to grow? At what rate? Are we flooding them?


Illiana, Flyover: Both Based on Faulty Analysis

The Flyover? If city, state or federal officials not connected to the CTA would take a serious look at the environmental assessment and capacity claims for the Brown Line Flyover, this crazy, wildly expensive plan also would be quickly nixed.

Illiana mapJudge’s Ruling on Illiana May Be Rauner’s “Way Out”
by Richard Wronski, Chicago Tribune, 6/16/2015

From the article:

  • A U.S. District Court judge on Tuesday dealt what could be the fatal blow to the proposed Illiana toll road, ruling that the federal government’s approval of the controversial project was invalid.

    The Federal Highway Administration’s 2013 endorsement of the bistate project was “arbitrary and capricious,” and in violation of U.S. environmental law, according to the decision handed down by federal Judge Jorge Alonso.

    The purpose and need for the Illiana as outlined in the project’s environmental impact statement are the result of a “faulty” analysis, the judge said, and thus the highway administration’s decision to greenlight the project is invalid.

  • The judge’s decision noted that the transportation agencies did not use the “policy-based” long-range forecasts developed by professional planners at CMAP and its counterpart, the Indiana Regional Planning Commission.

    Instead, the transportation agencies used “market-driven forecasts developed by consultants” who were hired by those agencies.

    Another key element of the ruling was the way in which the transportation agencies selected the Illiana’s corridor, from more than a dozen options, compared with a “no build” alternative.

    “In short, the purpose and need for the Illiana … identified in the (environmental impact statement) are derived directly from the faulty ‘no build’ analysis,” the ruling said, adding that the analysis “does not substantiate the purpose and need.”

Sun-Times: CTA, Residents at Odds


CTA Praises Flyover, but some Lakeview Neighbors still concerned.
by Tina Sfondeles, Chicago Sun-Times, 6/3/15

The CTA invited the public to a June 3 Hearing about the Belmont Flyover, but it was instead an Open House. No public forum, no discussions. Just lots of poster boards and lots of CTA reps selling the Flyover.

Fortunately, the press did want to hear what we had to say:

“What has been shown today in terms of how it affects the neighborhood is definitely unacceptable,” said Adam Rosa, president of a condominium association two blocks from the Belmont station. “It’s basically a bomb blast in the middle of the community. Sixteen properties relocated. The structure is not elegant. It looks like a highway overpass in the middle of the neighborhood.”  Read more


CTA Transit Is Most Hated

One of the big reasons the CTA is hated is their penchant for destroying neighborhoods just for the thrill of it.


CTA Among Most Hated Transit Systems by Twitter Standards: Study
The CTA fared worse that the Kardashians and Southwest Airlines.

The CTA received the most negative comments out of the 10 transit systems in the study which included those in Washington, D.C., Boston, Philadelphia, New York City, San Francisco, Portland, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Toronto.  Read more

Open Letter to Dorval Carter

Dear new CTA President, Welcome and Watch Your Step, Please
by Jon Hilkevitch, Chicago Tribune, 5/11/2015

In his open letter to incoming CTA President Dorval Carter, the Tribune’s Jon Hilkevitch offered plenty of sound advice. For example, Drop the Flyover:

“The CTA should reconsider a commitment made by Claypool to spend $320 million to build at this time the elevated rail bridge near the Belmont station that serves the Red, Brown and Purple/Evanston Express lines. The planned “flyover” bridge would reconfigure the tracks so Brown Line trains would use a ramp to cross above tracks used by Red and Purple line trains at Clark Junction, near the Belmont stop. But CTA officials have not made the case that any time savings would be significant. The project, opposed by neighbors in Lakeview, is a solution to a problem that doesn’t yet fully exist.”

Infrastructure Repair vs. Roller Coasters

According to the government, 70,000 bridges in the U.S. – 1 out of every 9 – are structurally unsafe.

Here’s a fun solution in Pittsburgh. Build a structure to catch the debris!chopper-shot-of-falling-debris-coverNext time you drive under a CTA overpass anywhere in Chicago, look up. Rotting beams, cracked stone and cement, rusty supports. Feel safe?

Want to increase Core Capacity, make rides safer on the CTA? Spend money on renewing CTA infrastructure everywhere. Don’t waste $$$ on a Flyover which will quickly become part of the infrastructure you don’t maintain.

The CTA tacked the Belmont Flyover onto their otherwise sane Core Capacity proposal to the federal government in order to prove a required “10-20%” increase in core capacity.

But, they lied by presenting the Flyover as the fix. The CTA said the delay caused when a northbound Brown Line train crosses the Red and Purple Line tracks at Belmont – in reality 20-30 seconds  – is an ‘up to 4 minute’ delay. Then, they provided misleading illustrations to downplay the destructive effect of the Flyover on Lakeview.

All to satisfy the Fed’s core capacity increase requirement.

They didn’t need to lie. The RPM project easily stands alone without the tacked-on Flyover. Fixing the tracks, the underpasses, the shaky curves will increase core capacity, make it possible to deliver more commuters more quickly to work each day. No made-up ‘signature project’ solution needed to sell this plan.

And no unnecessary Flyover to build, then immediately begin to neglect.

Making Valuable Land Worthless

In Louisville and Memphis, they use highways to destroy their cities’ valuable river fronts. Here in Chicago, we’ll use the CTA to destroy Central Lakeview, a top restaurant-theater-entertainment district and one of the best residential areas in the country.

Highways and CTA Roller Coasters – Both great for destroying cities!

MemphisToo Many Cities Make Their Most Valuable Land Worthless
by Angie Schmitt, Streetsblog Network, 5/12/15