Thursday, November 29, 2007

Rant & Rave

It is time for a Moderator whine fest. I get one once in a great while.
  • I was in D.C. recently and met with a senior person in the Department of Transportation. In the course of our conversation this person said that the toughest part of the DOT's job is convincing people that the United State's transportation network no longer is the best in the world. This person said that the United States no longer is a center of innovation in the planning, delivery and operation of transportation systems. This person said the complacency and cowardliness of the transportation professionals and politicians this person has encountered while working for DOT has been quite discouraging.
  • While other cities are implementing or considering the implementation of pricing measures (i.e., tolls) as a way to manage heavily congested highway systems, there is little or no indication that Illinois is considering tolling as a traffic management tool or revenue raising measure (or both). We'd rather have people stand in line for "free" roads than use tolling to spread demand more effectively. And just how is the State's refusal to use an effective tool of highway management going to make it more competitive in the world economy?
  • With the completion of the I-355 extension, it appears that the Illinois Toll Highway has nothing new or interesting on its plate despite its inherent ability to fund new transportation projects through relatively modest toll increases and its evident ability to deliver projects in a timely way.
  • IDOT can't get a bridge built over the Mississippi River in St. Louis. The hangup appears to be this State's refusal to consider tolling. Apparently, we would rather slow the flow of people and commerce in southern Illinois than charge people a couple of bucks to travel over a major, costly and presumably useful new bridge.
  • When IDOT is presented with projects like the Elgin/O'Hare Expressway--O'Hare By-Pass that will generate substantial economic and mobility benefits, it temporizes by using years of studies and analysis in a futile attempt to placate relatively few local opponents. Meanwhile, the benefits from the expansion of O'Hare are diminished for lack of a highway/transit infrastructure that will serve the expansion.
  • The Regional Transportation Authority, the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and Pace face yet another doomsday with the recent defeat of a transit funding bill, this time featuring a diversion of the sales tax on gas sold in the six-county RTA region from the GRF to transit. The service boards brought on the current financial crisis by overextending their service levels beyond their financial means. Under the bailout plans so far, the very financial oversight agency that stood by while they did so, and then approved an unbalanced FY 2007 budget using a plug number for hoped-for new State funds, gets even more authority. Huh?
  • Metra's STAR Line, whose western leg would be on a rail line designed to avoid population centers and whose eastern leg would run down an expensive interstate highway ROW, can't seem to get out of the station. While Metra undoubtedly will someday produce studies showing robust projected ridership levels, few people will believe them, and certainly not the federal government, which has been burned by overly optimistic ridership projections on other new start rail projects.
  • The proposed State capital plan--Illinois Works--allocates a much smaller percentage of new capital money to transit than past State capital bills. This presumably means continued deterioration in the CTA system. Metra will finally join the CTA in being starved for capital, which is no consolation at all.
  • The Chicago area continues to sprawl, which presumably means greater dependence on foreign oil and thus an larger outflow of dollars from the region. The auto-centric suburbs suck people out of the center area of the region, where population densities are high enough to support transit. There appears to be no way to brake this sprawl and no real interest is doing so. Before you know it Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins outlets will be sprouting along the Prairie Parkway. Just what we need.
Rant over. I feel a bit better. Pardon my bile. It is a temporary thing, I hope. I'm just discouraged.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Welcome brother, are you prepared to be baptized now?

Jennifer said...

"IDOT can't get a bridge built over the Mississippi River in St. Louis."

What?

Anonymous said...

Item 1: Everyone knows that Germany always has had the best transportation system. We took their idea for autobahns (and also their rocket scientists). Their cars are better because they are built for roads with no speed limits. However, the Germans are starting to become wusses in that regard.

Items 2 and 3 are inconsistent. When has a new freeway been built in Cook, DuPage or Lake County since the 1960s?

Item 3: According to the Tribune, the Prairie Parkway is about ready to go.

The ones further down seem to have stronger premises, but again you rant about the Star Line without mentioning such proposed CTA fiascos as the Circle Line (which would need Metra cooperation to work) and the Ogden-Carroll connector, both of which have shown no potential ridership at all.

Anonymous said...

Toll roads may not be the answer to everything. Reportedly, Mitch Daniel's idea for making I-69 a toll road from Indianapolis to Evansville hit a snag when studies indicated that it was not self-financing.

Anonymous said...

Here we are just a week removed from Thanksgiving, and we have forgotten our blessings and started harping on the negative again.

Maybe the moderator can start a post in the near future about what's right with the area's transportation system, or things that are moving in the right direction or look promising.

Jennifer- I believe the project is the New Mississippi River Bridge. See the website at
http://www.newriverbridge.org/
I disagree with laying all the blame in IL's lap when it has, by far, contributed more community effort, $ and engineering to the project than MO has at this point.

Anon 8:34 - there is that six-mile Elgin-OHare Expressway, but that's the only one I can think of. I can think of 2 cancelled freeways (Crosstown and Fox Valley) which would have been much longer.

HealthyCity said...

So Moderator and the US DOT are just figuring out the terrible state of American transportation? Really? Last I checked the 1991 ISTEA legislation pretty much said that Interstate highway building is done and over with--time to think creative locally. That was 17 years ago.

Now, what has happened since then? More of the same. Business as Usual: More highways, more sprawl, albeit with some light rail thrown in here-n-there. Pork barrelling instead of planning.

Funny: a guy from US DOT lamenting these things. As they tighten the screws on transit New Starts, pretty much ending the program ("we got burned too many times"), yet they complain about a lack of tolling on the highways. But the highways keep getting built, don't they? And the oil keeps flowing...

The last people in the world to take any advice from is the US DOT.

Anonymous said...

I haven't heard a rip on the Circle Line in a long time.

It clearly looks like a boondoggle, with a big price tag, and uncertain ridership forecasts.

But to be honest, every so often I catch myself pondering the proposal and I become more and more convinced that it's the kind of infrastructure improvement that doesn't probably fit into the conventional traffic demand modeling and forecasting and "congestion mitigation" mindset. The way it connects with all the CTA rail AND all the Metra rail lines. The potential to actually spurn TOD development on the near West Side, reforming what we think of "downtown" Chicago.

I want to hate the project, with it's huge cost, but something keeps saying to me, just because on a map it looks small for the cost and just because every policy-maker seems to think any investment that doesn't stretch to the hinterland must not be addressing the "congestion" problem, I start to sort of like the project.

Oh, but the cost.

Anonymous said...

Healthycity-

Where are all these new free roads being built?

DBX said...

Why doesn't the state of Illinois push the Mid-City Transitway? You know, the proposed passenger route connecting O'Hare and Midway Airports with the south and west and northwest side? The one that follows the route of the long-since-cancelled Crosstown Expressway I-494? Oh, I think I just answered my own question. The Crosstown must not yet be dead.

Even though this new route, it has been suggested from one number I saw, would have 60,000 riders a day.

Sad thing is that if my Crosstown conspiracy theory is wrong, another thing is surely right -- Metra and CTA would fight each other to the death over who gets to build and run it. Can't it be both? Or can't there be both rapid transit and commuter rail on it? Or can't it at least directly connect to both?

Pity we're in Illinois, where joining up the dots isn't in the language.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't included in any of the CTA's plans or New Starts. Mayor Daley mentioned something about the need for North-South transit in connection with the Olympics, which was interpreted as the Mid-City Transitway.

IDOT wouldn't have anything to do with it, except perhaps matching funds if there were ever an approved project and a capital bill to fund that share.

Anonymous said...

I still don't understand the continued harping on "overextending... service levels beyond their financial means." CTA's realignment of the lakefront express routes better aligns service supply and rider demand. Living and working patterns have changed a lot in the past few decades. Yes, the agencies should match service supply with fiscal reality as well, but at some level the goal of public transit should be to move the public.

On sprawl: I used to work for a guy who commuted to Chicago from Cedar Rapids. He flew out there on weekends.

Anonymous said...

There is a difference between restructuring and expanding transit beyond its means. For instance, a goal of Pace restructuring, besides better serving demand, is to reduce platform hours 4 to 7 percent. The CTA example you cite may be similar. However, the CTA violates this principle when it extends its routes into Pace territory, and apparently there is neither the ridership nor the resources to support that.

逆円助 said...

さあ、今夏も新たな出会いを経験してみませんか?当サイトは円助交際の逆、つまり女性が男性を円助する『逆円助交際』を提供します。逆円交際を未経験の方でも気軽に遊べる大人のマッチングシステムです。年齢上限・容姿・経験一切問いません。男性の方は無料で登録して頂けます。貴方も新たな出会いを経験してみませんか

精神年齢 said...

みんなの精神年齢を測定できる、メンタル年齢チェッカーで秘められた年齢がズバリわかっちゃう!かわいいあの子も実は精神年齢オバサンということも…合コンや話のネタに一度チャレンジしてみよう

メル友募集 said...

最近仕事ばかりで毎日退屈してます。そろそろ恋人欲しいです☆もう夏だし海とか行きたいな♪ k.c.0720@docomo.ne.jp 連絡待ってるよ☆

家出 said...

最近TVや雑誌で紹介されている家出掲示板では、全国各地のネットカフェ等を泊り歩いている家出娘のメッセージが多数書き込みされています。彼女たちはお金がないので掲示板で知り合った男性の家にでもすぐに泊まりに行くようです。あなたも書き込みに返事を返してみませんか

動物占い said...

あなたの性格を、動物に例えて占っちゃいます。もしかしたらこんな動物かも!?動物占いをうまく使って、楽しい人間関係を築いてください

家出 said...

家出中の女性や泊まる所が無い女性達がネットカフェなどで、飲み放題のドリンクで空腹を満たす生活を送っています。当サイトはそんな女性達をサポートしたいという人たちと困っている女性たちの為のサイトです

セレブラブ said...

セレブ女性との割り切りお付き合いで大金を稼いでみませんか?女性に癒しと快楽、男性に謝礼とお互い満たしあえる当サイト、セレブラブはあなたの登録をお待ちしております。

夏フェス!! said...

夏フェス一緒に行ってくれる人募集!!夏の思い出一緒につくろぉ☆ megumi-0830@docomo.ne.jp 連絡してね♪

無料ゲーム said...

あなたのゲーマー度を無料ゲーム感覚で測定します。15個の質問に答えるだけの簡単測定で一度遊んでみませんか?ゲームが得意な人もそうでない人もぜひどうぞ。

素人 said...

Hな女性たちは素人ホストを自宅やホテルに呼び、ひとときの癒しを求めていらっしゃいます。当サイトでは男性ホスト様の人員が不足しており、一日3~4人の女性の相手をするホストもおられます。興味を持たれた方は当サイトにぜひお越しください

出会い系 said...

実は出会い系には…関係者用入り口があるのを知っていますか?広告主やスポンサー用に用意されたIDではサクラや業者が立ち入ることが出来ないようになっているのです。当サイトでは極秘に入手した関係者用URLが公開されています

逆援助 said...

男性はお金、女性は快楽を得る逆援助に興味はありませんか?お金を払っても性的欲求を満たしたいセレブ達との割り切り1日のお付き合いで当サイトでは大金を得ることができます。無料登録なのでアルバイト感覚でOK、詳しくはTOPページでどうぞ。

友達募集 said...

ホムペ完成記念!私の事みんなに知ってもらいたくて頑張りましたぁ。色々とご感想をお待ちしているので思った事を意見してください。メアドはほむぺにのせてありますぅ!★ fan.jna@docomo.ne.jp

家出 said...

夏休みで気軽に家出する女子○生が急増しています。しかし家出したはいいものの泊る所やお金が無い彼女たちは、掲示板などで泊めてくれる男性を探す子も多いようです。当掲示板にも夏休みに入ってから通常の3倍以上のメッセージが寄せられています

人妻 said...

今最もアツイバイトは人妻とのセフレ契約です。当サイトではお金を払ってでもセフレがほしい人妻が集まり、男性会員様との逆援生活を待っています。当サイトで欲求不満の女性との出会いをしてみませんか

素人 said...

素人ホストでは、男性のテクニック次第で女性会員様から高額な謝礼がもらえます。欲求不満な人妻や、男性と出会いが無い女性達が当サイトで男性を求めていらっしゃいます。興味のある方はTOPページからどうぞ

友達募集中 said...

少し魅惑な自分をネットだから公開してみました。普段言えない事など、思い切って告白しているプロフなので興味ある方はぜひ除いてみてください連絡待ってまぁす。 hinyaaaaa@docomo.ne.jp

Evangeline said...

Oh my god, there's a lot of useful information in this post!

Anonymous said...

Greetings! Very helpful advice within this post!

It's the little changes which will make the most significant changes. Many thanks for sharing!

Here is my web page: paleo auflauf
my web site > rezepte paleo diät