New Study Shows Economic and Traffic Benefits of Chicago’s I-290 Expansion

I wrote earlier this week about Chicago’s traffic congestion woes. The city is currently the second worst for major U.S. and cities and 6th worst wordwide. Some interesting tidbits came out of that story, including the proposed expansions of I-290 and I-55 discussed by the Illinois Department of Transportation head. According to the site Roads & Bridges, a recent study for the 290 expansion would benefit Chicago drastically both economically and in traffic congestion.

The Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI) just released a study stating that the $2.7 billion project, which combines both transit and pedestrian improvements alongside bridge and roadway upgrades, is projected by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) to provide amongst the best economic, equity, and traffic impacts of any project in the region by 2050 “The I-290 corridor is vital multi-modal infrastructure that’s needed to connect the western suburbs and southern Cook County with the City of Chicago, but it has far exceeded its design life and become one of the most congested and dangerous thoroughfares in the region,” stated ILEPI Transportation Director and study author Mary Tyler. “That said, its proposed modernization represents one of the region’s greatest opportunities to create jobs, reduce traffic burdens, and alleviate the economic access burdens facing disadvantaged communities.”

The proposed I-290 reconstruction project incorporates not only bridge and highway upgrades—including a new High Occupancy Toll lane (HOT3+) to support Express Bus service and promote carpooling—but also wider sidewalks, pedestrian safety islands, high visibility crosswalks, lighting, and signals to better facilitate pedestrian/bicycle traffic and transit riders.

A concurrent CTA project would upgrade Blue Line facilities, including reconstruction of the entire Forest Park Branch as well as stations from UIC-Halsted to Forest Park and six substations. 

The study examined the potential overall economic impact of the project, concluding that it would create nearly 22,000 new jobs paying an average of almost $80,000 per year, while growing the economy by more than $2.6 billion and boosting local, state, and federal tax revenues by more than $450 million.

What’s not to like about this project? It would hopefully finally start to free up one of the tightest and slowest commutes in and out of the city to the western suburbs (I-290) and create thousands of well paying jobs. The reporting has not said exactly where the funding will come from, but I would make a strong guess that Illinois’ portion from the recent $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill would be earmarked for this project.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then please call the Chicago injury attorneys at The Bryant Law Group for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Traffic Study Shows Chicago Driver Speeds Down But Car Crashes Remain Up

September meant back to school and also a lot of companies had their employees returning to the office as well following labor day. Despite persistence of the Delta variant and the pandemic that won’t go away, rush hour traffic is back in Chicago. According to a new study by Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (“CMAP”), rush hour traffic has progressively returned and thus driver travel times are slower.

According to CMAP, 111 people died in crashes between March and early September, compared with 92 people during the same months in 2020, The number of people seriously injured in car crashes was up by nearly 20% compared to 2020.

According to the National Safety Council, which studies traffic safety, these increases in traffic accidents is caused by multiple factors. First, they believe the drivers returning to the office. Some who would normally have taken a bus or train might now be choosing to drive, meaning they less are experienced driving their routes. They also believe drivers are having a hard time putting down their phones while in the car. This has been a problem for the last 10 plus years, but now that meetings are mainly taking place via Zoom and FaceTime, a lot of drivers think they can handle these while driving.

The Council believes one solution to these issues is implementing “traffic calming” measures onto city streets, which can help protect cyclists and pedestrians too, as biking and walking are growing in popularity throughout Chicago and the suburbs. That can include lower speed limits, pedestrian islands and crosswalks in roadways and bike lanes, which both provide space for cyclists and narrow streets to encourage lower speeds.

Please remember to buckle up and put your phone down while in the car. I believe your employer, co-workers and clients will understand if you have to wait until you arrive at your office.

As always, please contact The Bryant Law Group at 312-614-1076, should you need a free legal consultation.

IDOT And CMAP Propose New Initiatives To Relieve Traffic Gridlock In Chicago

Those who commute by car to work everyday in and around Chicago, know how stressful the traffic can be. It can be stressful just trying to drive to the one of the airports, or coming down to the city over the weekend. Chicago has been documented as one of the worst cities in the U.S. when it comes to traffic gridlock. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Illinois Department of Transportation (“IDOT”) and (“CMAP”) have recently teamed up to plan alternative solutions for freeing up some of the traffic gridlock in and around Chicago.

One of their first proposed ideas is congestion pricing. Congestion pricing would allow motorists to pay for the privilege of bypassing gridlock. According to CMAP, a congestion pricing added lane can shorten a motorist’s morning rush-hour commute by a third to two-thirds. Rush-hour traffic in un-tolled lanes would drop by a quarter to a third, according to CMAP research.

The second suggestion is  using expressway shoulders for buses, an idea already used on the Jane Addams tollway and on Interstate 55.

Another suggestion to their plan would be installing sensors along expressways that gather real-time data on bottlenecks, so motorists know ahead of time which stretches to avoid.

This all seem like legitimate ideas, but do we know if they will really work? Also, how would the state pay for all of this? Once possible solution is an additional gas tax.

I am a little dubious of all of the above ideas. I am not an engineer or a traffic expert, but none of the plans take the actual number of total commuters of the road. The additional bus lane is a start, but I really cannot think of many people that would take a bus out of or into the city due time on the commute. I would like to see further study into high speed trains and/or additional train lines. If Metra and the state can offer faster trains and/or more trains in and out of the city, I believe we would have more commuters deciding to stay out of their vehicles. Of course I don’t know the cost and whether this is even feasible, but if we want less vehicles on the road, it seems to me the most viable option would be a faster train system.

If you or someone you love 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.