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Catching up with CTA news: Another I-Go partnership

The CTA already has a partnership to allow I-Go car users to pick up cars at CTA locations. Now the two companies are teaming up to offer a smart card -- a special Chicago Card Plus -- that will allow customers to take the CTA to an I-Go location and then unlock their rental car and take off on errands.

CTA President Ron Huberman announced this partnership last week:

With board approval, CTA and I-GO will commence development of the joint smart card. The program is expected to be launched by the end of the year. Individuals who wish to register for a Chicago Card Plus and are eligible for an I-GO membership will have the opportunity to participate in the program. Customers who register online for both services will receive a single card that can be used to ride the CTA and unlock their reserved I-GO vehicle.

Safety and evacuation video. Part of the announcement of enhanced rider commmunication this week was the release of new views that explain train emergency and evacuation instructions and procedures.

View them here.

Weekend work resumes on Blue Line, Loop elevated. After a week's reprieve for the Chicago Marathon, weekend work is back. Read here about reroutes of the Loop elevated trains, and work on the Blue Line that will suspend service between Belmont and Irving Park.


I notice two things -- first, there's no Brown Line work, but also, despite all the Brown Line single-track for weeks and weeks, there is still a slow zone between Irving and Addison. I'm relieved to know that the Western center track is completely revamped, of course, but you'd think they might fix actual problems before making preemptive strikes.

But that's what they want you to think! muhahahahahahahhahaa(best approximation of evil scientist laugh)!


The evil scientist laughter got me to thinking about Halloween. I think I'll be Frank Kreusi this year. Anybody have a system map tie, "Don't Be Jack" hat or day-glo Gore Tex jacket I can borrow?

I found some more information about the Berwyn station that was being discussed a few threads ago. I thought I'd post it in the newest thread so people didn't miss out on the info:

Berwyn Transportation Center meeting notes from Paul Breding:

August 1, 2008

All -

I attended the neighborhood transportation committee meeting last night, and
just wanted to give a report on what went on. There were about 25 residents
from throughout the ward who showed up. Also in attendance were
representatives from the CTA, the Chicago Dept of Planning & Development,
and Kinley Horn Consulting Company. The ultimate goal of the committee is
to come up with ideas for the redevelopment of the area around the Berwyn L
station. The City and CTA are both fully in favor of the project. In fact,
it is one of 3 pilot projects in the city. If they are successful, the
program could be expanded to other stations.

We started by discussing how the Argyle & Lawrence L stations, as well as
the Broadway corridor are serving the Uptown community, and how they are
integrated with the Berwyn station. We then moved on to a discussion of
what kind of ground-floor uses we would want in new developments around a
new Berwyn stop. These included a grocery store, quick-service restaurants,
coffee shop, dry cleaners, pharmacy. Things the group decided we would not
like to see included parking, a gym, & day care, mostly because these uses
could be relegated to a higher floor. We then discussed what kind of
improvements we would like to see to the station itself. These included a
reconstructed station entrance, better streetscaping, better accessibility,
and bus shelters. Things the group decided were not as important included
wider platforms, wider sidewalks, and more station entrances.

The next step is for the consultants to work with the city and CTA to come
up with a comprehensive redevelopment plan. This could potentially include
demolishing the Jewel store, the strip mall between Berwyn & Foster, and the
vacant buildings on the west side of Broadway to accommodate new buildings
and transportation hubs. The buildings will most likely be higher density
(4-5 stories), with retail fronting the streets. A plan will be presented
to the group, probably in October. At that time we will have a chance to
give our feedback on the design so that it can be tweaked. A timeline for
construction has not been set at this point. The area is within a TIF
district, so funding could possibly come partially from the TIF.

I will keep everyone posted on what happens next.



From the Alderman's Office:

More than a year ago, Alderman Smith approached the Chicago Transit Authority and the Department of Planning and Development about creating a European style transit center in Edgewater. We focused on the Berwyn El because of the large, consolidated property holdings, the convergence of three TIFs, the lot depth on the East side of Broadway and the number of bus routes that converge at Foster.

This center would help residents travel to anywhere in the world and facilitate mobility without auto ownership. It could include an express train to downtown, extensive bus connections in an indoor station that doubles as a bus turnaround, a direct shuttle to O'Hare, I-GO car sharing, a bike rental depot, an alternative fuel site for environmentally friendly autos, connections to Metra and a neighborhood shopping shuttle. In addition, it could provide "kiss and ride" parking to accommodate commuters from other neighborhoods who drive to our El stops and park on neighborhood streets.

The groundwork for this development was laid by the Edgewater Development Corporation, which explored these ideas through a series of community charrets. Special thanks go to State Representative Harry Osterman who provided the funding to launch this research.

As you may have seen in the Chicago Tribune recently, the CTA and the Department of Planning have hired the consultants necessary to move forward toward our community's concept of a multi-modal center at Berwyn. They call it a TOD - Transit Oriented Development. It would combine the components listed above with significant residential and retail space.

Two months ago, Alderman Smith requested that Zoning & Planning delegates ask their organizations to appoint a person to focus on transportation planning and to form a committee to participate in the realization of this vision. The first meeting, sponsored by the Department of Planning and Development, will be Wednesday, July 31, at 6 p.m. in our office, 5533 N. Broadway. Please get the name of your delegate to Adam Burck, executive director of the Edgewater Development Corp., 773/506-4016, or adamburck@edgewaterdev.org.

Mary Ann Smith
Alderman 48th Ward

^ sounds cool. I am still afraid the area redevelopment will make it too busy. Hopefully, it would not end up like Bryn Mawr with all of the addicts roaming around.

Thanks for the info!

If Supervalu, the owner of Jewel doesn't want its store torn down, it's not being torn down!
Was that brought up at that meeting?

And why would there be a demand for a grocery store there, there's already a huge grocery store there, the aforementioned Jewel!

My God. The Berwyn station currently has the most development near it than any red line station North of Addison. If people are actually going to discuss something like that, you would think they would actually suggest a location that could actually use something new.

I absolutely love this sentence:

"We then moved on to a discussion of
what kind of ground-floor uses we would want in new developments around a
new Berwyn stop. These included a grocery store, quick-service restaurants,
coffee shop, dry cleaners, pharmacy."

Umm, there already is by my count two coffee shops, two supermarkets, two small grocery stores (at least), five or six quick-service resuarants, two pharmacies, and I'm sure some dry cleaners within two blocks of the station(or maybe three if someone insists that the CVS is a little farther away). What an absurd proposal. Do you think that maybe it makes sense to actually build stations in places where they don't currently exist and where there is a large gap first? I also love how there is a suggestion of demolishing a strip mall that currently has more than a dozen perfectly good businesses. Obviously this thing is being discussed by people who don't have the most basic knowledge of these types of things. I hope that nobody here is going to actually take it seriously.

I also love the idea of "a neighborhood shopping shuttle". I had to laugh. One of the reasons that people live in neighborhoods like this is so they can walk to these businesses. Nobody is going to wait on a corner for a shuttle that will take them a few blocks to a grocery store, a dry cleaners, or a fast food restaurant.

There might be demand for a grocery store if the Jewel were torn down. Although I don't live in the neighborhood, from what I've seen most of these proposals are superfluous.

You can talk about remodeling the station to improve accessibility and appearance and maybe even having the Purple Line stop there, but the neighborhood development is going to be up the the people who own the land in the neighborhood.

Adding stations to existing lines must be carefully considered. It's supposed to be rapid transit and if the train is stopping every other block it's not going to be very rapid, isn't it? The model going forward for areas outside the core of downtown should be the newer sections of the Blue Line with half-mile spacing in densely populated areas and one-mile spacing in more sparsely populated areas.

The Berwyn station has an appalling number of parking lots surrounding it. Presumably part of the motivation for, say, tearing down the Jewel is to make the area denser and less car-oriented -- a worthy goal in my opinion. Some of the things discussed seem a bit fanciful, such as the neighborhood shopping shuttle, but that's probably just a matter of throwing every possible idea out there -- kind of like how they always propose that maybe we could use monorail technology on any new rail construction.

"The Berwyn station has an appalling number of parking lots surrounding it. Presumably part of the motivation for, say, tearing down the Jewel is to make the area denser and less car-oriented -- a worthy goal in my opinion."

Umm, you do understand that in order for there to be a significant number of businesses there needs to be parking, right? Do you want a dense neighborhood without any shops? Unless one is talking about Manhatten or downtown Chicago, there will not be very many businesses that survive without a place to park. Certainly not a grocery store, for Christ's sake. You realize that people cannot always carry their groceries home. Grocery stores pretty much always serve those who live in the area. So it is rather silly to be annoyed at people driving a few blocks (or stopping on the way from somewhere else, which pretty much does not cause any pollution).

I had to laugh at your "appaling numbers of parking lots" statement. By my count there are three parking lots near the Berwyn station (I suppose four if you count the one around three or four blocks away at Dominick's). You are saying that this is "appaling"? What exactly is appalling about it? Would you just rather cars did not exist and nobody drived at all? Your post seems like something that Jake would say. I took a look at your blog and noticed that you are considering taking a job as a post-doctoral fellow at U of C. What is it with you U of C people and this issue? Jake is a student there. I never had the grades to ever be able to get into that school (of course, I could have if I wanted to do nothing but study every day). It is a very selective school. Yet, I always want to scream when I see your arguments. Do they actively look for people who lack common sense? ;)

By the way, Adam, I noticed you never responded to my post on that fare hike thread where I point out that you made an argument that was completely contrary to the facts: http://www.ctatattler.com/2008/10/analysis-of-pro.html#comment-134409367 That's fine. I'll just assume that means that you realize you were wrong. But don't they teach the importance of good research at the U of C? ;)

I would agree with Jake and Adam on this. Parking lots in urban areas are bad for development, period. Take a look at the development of businesses in the south loop for a textbook example. Our Jewel is the only business with a parking lot (a small one, across the street from the Roosevelt station) and it is always busy. So busy that its open 24hrs a day. The south loop is thriving right now, I think the CTA wants to turn Berwyn into a similar sort neighborhood.

And if the area is so densely packed, you buy a foldup cart to make carrying your groceries home easy. Almost anyone can do it. I see people of all ages shopping with them all the time.

I would only approve that particular Jewel be torn town if Trader Joes went in its place. I wish someone would just obliterate the Dominick's up the street though...

Anyway this neighborhood is pretty dense, and I'm pretty sure that most of us in these tall buildings over here don't have cars. We suck it up and use our granny carts to get places. :D I'm not going to argue about the parking lots, but I wouldn't suggest that any development they try to do around Berwyn include a massive amount of parking.

For those that don't know, the retail in this area was a major issue when they wanted to build it... because it DOES look like suburban development!

Parking is pretty inconvenient in Lincoln Square, but they seem to be doing fine.

For those of us who are already I-Go and CTA users, the new card will cost $25. So I guess I'm not getting one.

I live 2 blocks from the Berwyn station, do not own a car and frequently shop at the Berwyn/Broadway Jewel. I have to agree that some minor pedestrian/street/parking lot improvements would be an excellent idea as well as long term plans to de-suburbanize the area by tearing down many of the single-use retail buildings and their respective surface parking lots and replacing them with more mixed-use developments.

I have long been vocal to our alderman's office that Broadway is a hostile pedestrian environment and does little to encourage smaller retail and restaurants to open. I've hoped that Broadway would receive landscaped medians like Ashland has.

Many people in my building do not own a car, I'd estimate 30-40%, which is significant when you consider East Edgewater is one of the most densely populated areas of the city. The Jewel does in fact receive a good deal of walk-in traffic. My problem is that the large Jewel parking lot that fronts Berwyn and Broadway is a totally inappropriate use of land immediately next to a rapid transit station in the middle of a dense urban neighborhood. At least the strip center across the street has several storefronts that do face Berwyn and one of the buildings "holds down" the Berwyn and Broadway corner.

The Jewel is doing a renovation right now and I was hoping they would at least do some work on the parking lot to improve the pedestrian walkway to make it slightly easier to cross the parking lot to get to the entrance. Ultimately, tearing down the Jewel and building a mixed-use building that fronts the street with basement parking would be ideal. I'm thinking along the lines of the Halsted/Waveland Whole Foods.

Finally, the abandoned funeral home property at Broadway and Foster did in fact have a large mixed use redevelopment that was approved. But thanks in part to the single family homeowners along Magnolia delaying the project for many months with their objections over alley access and height, once the development finally received approval the condo market had softened too much. Now we will be left with an major eyesore in the neighborhood probably for another 10 years.

The point of all this is that areas that are heavily mixed-use creates significantly more CTA ridership than areas that are dominated by parking lots and single-use areas. Now, I wish someone would pay more attention to the North/Clybourn mess! Talk about a mistake with all those strip malls and incredibly narrow sidewalks along North Ave!

Also, related to this, I found out that the Dominicks immediately east of this stop bought the property back from the company it was leasing from. There have long been rumors that Dominicks wants to redevelop the property and change it into a high rise condo/apartments with a new store being rebuilt in the ground floor of the building. If you look at the parking lot of each of these stores, they are way larger than needed and I have NEVER seen any of them full. As pointed out in other posts, they have parking lots as if they are in the suburbs. Now, I am not advocating the elimination of them, but I don't think they need to be as large as they currently are.

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