Quigley on Congress, CTA on Ashland BRT
Submitted by Meghan Quinn
Guest Speaker: Congressman Mike Quigley
Mike Quigley stopped by to talk about his work representing Illinois’ 5th Congressional District. He pointed out that there are approximately 750,000 people in his district, which covers a wide geographical area, and includes Old Town as well as Hinsdale. He touched on the well-known legacy of the 5th district, and infamy of a few of its past representatives, namely Dan Rostenkowski and Rod Blagojevich. Quigley has proposed smart policies to crack down on corruption and increase government transparency. He introduced the State Ethics Law Protection Act with Sen. Mark Kirk to target pay-to-play politics.
Quigley supports issues such as environmental protection, equal rights, and ethical, open government. According to Quigley's website, during his time on the Cook County Board of Commissioners, Quigley sponsored every piece of major environmental legislation adopted by Cook County government, and still regularly participates in local cleanup and restoration efforts, earning him awards from the Audubon Society and the Sierra Club. The Chicago Reader has said he is “arguably the greenest elected official in Chicago.” Additionally, Quigley continues to fight for equal rights for those in the LGBT community, additional protections for victims of domestic abuse, and a woman’s right to choose.
An advocate for government reform and accountability, Quigley wrote several reports laying out detailed plans for the “reinventing” of the federal budget, starting from scratch and asking tough questions about what the government actually needs. He also presented a bipartisan, bicameral bill that would provide Americans with an itemized receipt for their tax returns.
Congressman Quigley sits on the House Committee on Appropriations, where he serves on the Subcommittee on Financial Services and the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies. He previously served on the House Committee on the Judiciary and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, where he was the Ranking Member for the Subcommittee on TARP, Financial Services, and Bailouts of Public and Private Programs.
Quigley’s office welcomes questions, comments or concerns from the community and can facilitate things such as tours of Washington D.C. See quigley.house.gov for more information and contact info.
Chicago Transit Authority/Bus Rapid Transit – Joe Iacobucci
Joe Iacobucci from the CTA came to discuss the new proposal for a Bus Rapid Transit system on Ashland Avenue. He stressed that the CTA will collect the data necessary to explore all impacts this may have. The CTA plans to have this data available by the end of the year.
For a bit of background, the CTA received an Alternatives Analysis grant about 18 months ago, used to explore six dozen scenarios for BRT options. The six dozen were narrowed down to six, four, and then ultimately two options: Ashland Avenue or Western Avenue. The CTA now believes Ashland to be the best artery for this new BRT system.
Many at the meeting had concerns about the heavy volume of car and especially truck traffic rerouting into and through neighborhood streets (Damen, Wood, Western etc.). Iacobucci stated that the initial analysis indicates traffic would likely reroute to Western, Ogden and Elston. CTA is currently in the environmental analysis and concept design phase.
Iacobucci said that the general feel along the corridor affected by the Ashland BRT was a desire for faster transit, but the main concerns are with exactly how it works. For instance, many are concerned about the removal of left turns. CTA feels that over time traffic will adjust to the no lefts, and new routes will emerge.
At this point, the BRT is not a done deal, as the CTA does not have funding for future phases and construction (estimated at $10 million per mile), and the BRT's existence would depend on public reaction, according to Iacobucci. Some in attendance voiced the opinion that a project such as this one should be voted on, as they feel it is being decided for them. Operational costs have yet to be determined, but will be figured out in the next phase of design.
Initially, both Ashland and Western were run through the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning highway model. The analysis showed that Ashland would see a 1-3 mph decrease in auto traffic. In the next phase, a traffic analysis will be done in segments, giving a more substantial picture of the possible impacts.
Many felt that there should be a focus on integrating the BRT with the existing Chicago Card/Ventra to prevent confusion about prepaid boarding.
Some suggested a test period on Ashland in order to see the impacts. However, Iacobucci pointed out that this would only highlight the negative impacts, as you wouldn’t be able to model certain things like an increase in BRT ridership and center boarding.
Iacobucci asserted that the population is only going to grow, and the prioritization of high-capacity modes of transportation is important in order to move more people up and down our streets.
At this point, the Jeffery Jump is the first BRT-like system to be implemented in Chicago, and a Central Loop BRT is set to be implemented next year.
There is still a lot of time in this process, so if you would like to give feedback about the Ashland BRT, please send an email to email@example.com. The city is required to document all comments and answer all questions, and this can help shape the future of the project. You will also be put on the email list and be notified of the upcoming public meetings in September.
For more information, go to transitchicago.com/ashlandbrt or See the YouTube video.
Attendance: Board Members – Neal McKnight, Peter Locke, Meghan Quinn, KK Goh, Scott Rappe, Stephen Rynkiewicz, Gladys Anselmo, Tom Tomek. Meeting commenced at 7:05pm, adjourned at 8:40pm.