Is Elon Musk’s High Speed Underground Tram In Chicago Moving Forward?

Last year, outgoing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel held a press conference with transportation and tech entrepreneur, Elon Musk, regarding a high speed, underground tram system that would cart passengers out to O’Hare airport. The tram was touted to take about twelve (12) minutes and would cost approximately $25 for a one way trip. It was stated that Musk’s boring technology would dig the necessary pathway in between the downtown loop and the airport. The goal of this new transportation system was to help ease the gridlock on I-90/94 and free up space on the always packed Chicago blue line. Also, it would provide an opportunity for commuters to avoid the often hour long automobile commute or forty-five (45) minute train ride. Even more enticing was that Musk told the press that his boring company would be shelling out the 1 billion dollars in necessary construction costs.

A lot has changed in Chicago since September 2018. Rahm Emanuel decided not to run for a third term as mayor and there is now a runoff election for his spot set for April between Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle.

News outlets have reported within the past month that neither mayoral candidate are very excited about this project. Lightfoot doesn’t include the Musk tunnel in her transportation plan, and Preckwinkle said at a candidate’s forum that the tunnel was “definitely something I would put on pause.” Both have cited the need to expand and improve the CTA red line and Metra train systems on the south side.

This was and is an incredibly innovative idea. Obviously we don’t know all the details of financing, but if Musk and his company are paying for the entire construction, and the city splits a portion of the revenue, I do not see how the city does not move forward with this project. The added benefit of freeing up traffic above ground and the job creation seems to make this a no-brainer for the incoming mayor. This is assuming the technology would actually work in Chicago and the city and county are not putting up any of the money. If so, I would like to the see the incoming mayor reconsider their position(s) on this matter.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, please call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron J. Bryant for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

New Study Shows States With Texting & Driving Ban Showed Decrease In ER Visits

A new study from Texas A&M revealed that sixteen (16) states that have enacted a complete ban on texting and driving saw a 4% decrease in emergency room visits. The study looked at emergency room data from these states from 2007 through 2014. The results were published in the American Journal of Public Health this week.

Alva Ferdinand, lead author of the study, a lawyer, and an assistant professor of health policy at the School of Public Health at Texas A&M University, stated this about complete texting bans: “The law can be a very useful public health intervention. There are lives that can be saved and injuries prevented as a result of these laws,”

In 2016, nearly 3,500 people lost their lives and 391,000 were injured but survived a crash related to distracted driving, including texting, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

I have been writing about this issue off and on over the last half dozen years. I have mentioned over and over that we will not see a decrease in car accidents and traffic fatalities until there are actual deterrents to texting and driving. A mere fine, by itself, will not prevent drivers from picking up their phones while in traffic. There needs to be actual teeth in the legislation. This means a total ban, along with the threat of a moving violation with hefty fines. If drivers are aware that they could see points on their driving record, along with the threat of paying serious money for violating the law, then they are more likely to put their phones away while behind the wheel. These research findings are refreshing to me and a validation of what experts around the country have been saying for years.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Class Action Lawsuit Alleges Antitrust Violations Against Real Estate Brokers

A new class action lawsuit against the National Association of Realtors (“NAR”), by a group of home buyers was filed in the United States District Court, Northern District Illinois this week. The lawsuit, titled Moerhl v National Association Realtors (NAR) alleges antitrust violations by the NAR, due to their practices of forcing home buyers to pay a non-negotiable 6% fee to their agents on all home sales. The suit states that this practice by buyers agents prevents home sellers from the freedom to negotiate their own rate with their real estate agents. Realogy Holdings, HomeServices of America, RE/MAX and Keller Williams are also named in the suit.

The lawsuit cites a 2002 study that if sellers were free to negotiate with their agents, then the commission would fall somewhere closer to 3%.

I am certain that the NAR and associated agencies will argue that that the benefits that brokers provided more than made up for the 6% commission paid. For example, they will argue that the benefit of putting the home up on the MLS, which allowed the homes to be viewed on multiple websites (Redfin etc…), allowed homes to be sold much more quickly and at the highest possible price. They will argue that homes sold by buyers most likely take longer to sell and do not reach the same value as they would on the MLS because they are viewed by less potential buyers.

I am not an antitrust expert by any means, but I will predict that this will be a fiercely fought legal battle. Experts are saying there could be up to 54 billion in damages alleged.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a Chicago personal injury accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Chicago Police Ramping Up DUI Patrols For St. Patrick’s Weekend

St. Patrick’s Day weekend is one of the most congested weekends
of the year for both automobile and foot traffic . This year includes the downtown parade and dying of the Chicago River on Saturday, along with the south side parade on Sunday. On top of all this the Big 10 basketball tournament is taking place all weekend at the United Center. Based on all the extra traffic, and most likely copious alcohol consumption, Chicago Police are taking extra precautions.

Patch.com reported this week that the Chicago Police Department’s 6th District (Gresham) will be adding DUI saturation patrols. Police officers will monitoring traffic for signs of impaired driving, speeding and safety-belt violations.

The Breath Alcohol Testing (BAT) Mobile Unit is also expected to be to deployed. BAT allows officers to expedite the process of charging a person with driving under the influence before driving them to the nearest lockup. The BAT mobile also allows for I-bonds to be issued at the site of the DUI saturation patrol.

If you are heading downtown or to the south side, remember that there are multiple options for public transportation, along with cabs and ride shares. There is no reason to get behind the wheel if you are drinking. Even if you don’t plan on drinking, there is no reason to drive through the middle of all the expected congestion.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Chicago Mayor’s Office Initiates Mobility Task Force

Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to oversee a mobility task force for the city of Chicago. The purpose of the task force was to create a vision for the ever changing transportation systems including: roads; trains; buses; electric scooters; ride sharing; and bicycles. More specifically, the mayor’s office asked the task force to look at the following aspects of transportation:

  • Establishing clear mobility goals and effective governance that serve as a framework for planning for, evaluating and managing current and future mobility options and identifying the appropriate City leadership to ensure future decisions align with such goals.
  • Proposing changes to technology, policy, and public way use management to support the City’s mobility goals, including regulatory incentives, transit improvements, curbside use policies and data-sharing requirements/infrastructure.
  • Reviewing the areas of autonomous, connected and electric vehicles; enhancing CTA and other City transportation assets; promoting low and no carbon mobility choices; and finding sufficient and sustainable funding sources.

Secretary LaHood’s task force has recommended that the city hire a “mobility chief,” who would oversee all aspects of improving transportation and how to pay for it. I think this makes sense as the type of overhauls this task force is recommending would need some sort of CEO type to oversee the implementation of these new infrastructures and programs.

I am all for improving the city’s transportation infrastructure. This includes reducing traffic, reducing the carbon imprint, reducing costs etc.. But to be honest, this entire task force seems to be more of a question mark than answer. The media reports state that the task force’s report recommend “50 specific actions, policy changes or studies.” I have not seen a press release showing us what these “specific actions” include. There have merely been snippets, such as hiring mobility chief, adding toll roads and possibly a gas tax and new mobility services and technology, with “smart lanes” dedicated to bicycles, van pools and other shared rides.

This is all great, but there has been no explanation on how to achieve these “50 specific” actions. I will be anxiously awaiting more information from the mayor’s office on how to achieve these goals, and whether the new mayor (Lightfood or Preckwinkle) will carry the torch and follow through on what the task force has recommended.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.