Chicago Olympics bid book shines brighter light on once-sketchy transportation plans
In the official Chicago 2016 Olympics bid book released Friday, the city tries to put some meat on the bare-bones transportation plans submitted last year and judged third at that time behind Tokyo and Madrid.
Complaints at that time were distance from venues to rail stations and lack of detail on infrastructure spending. The bid book does shed some light, though it remains to be seen whether it's bright enough to light the Olympic flame here in 2016.
There certainly are no huge transit projects planned, such as monorails or construction of light rail to venues. But I'm not sure they are needed. Remember folks, the Olympics last for just 17 days. Add a week on either side for tourist spillover, and we're still talking about a month. If we win the games, businesses will have to tolerate more telecommuting and more vacations to keep regular commuters off the system. But I do think it's doable.
Here are some of the promises:
The CTA "aims to make all train stations accessible to people with disabilities by 2016." That's a lot of work and a lot money to spend in seven short years. Currently about 90 of 144 rail stations are accessible. Note the use of fudge verb "aims" -- it's not a firm promise.
Buses and shuttles -- referred to as the "Olympic transit overlay" -- will "bridge the gap between public-transport stations and competition and noncompetition venues." The book states most transit stations are less than 2 km away from competition venues, or 1.24 miles.
Infrastructure improvements. The bid book notes four CTA-specific improvements:
- The Brown Line expansion project, set for completion this year, for $530 million.
- Electrical, signals and communication improvements, completed by 2013 for $207 million.
- Track and structure improvements, finished by 2013 for $719 million.
- Bus and rail terminal facility improvements, cutting is a little close with a 2015 completion date, for $109 million.
Also promised is a big investment in new buses. "Over the next eight years, Chicago will spend $3.55 billion to modernize its existing fleet and rolling stock." And the Olympic Committees also "will have access to the Federal Borrowed Bus Program, which will be used to augment Chicago’s rolling stock during the Games."
Parking will not be provided at competitions venues, but use of park and ride lots will be encouraged.
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