October 13, 2010
Regional planners unveiling vision for Chicago area today
Regional planners this morning will formally unveil their vision for the Chicago area in the next 30 years. It calls for emphasizing the modernization of existing roads over building new ones, raising the state gas tax to fund road maintenance and transit, and increasing the Chicago region's share of the state's road funding pie.
Called Go to 2040 and based on almost three years of research and public hearings, the plan is being released by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, a little-known agency that is responsible for land-use and transportation planning in the seven-county Chicago area.
"We need to act now, before today's opportunities become tomorrow's crises," the report says.
In 2040, the plan predicts, the region will have 11 million residents, 2.4 mllion more than today. But it doesn't forecast an improvement in congestion if its recommendations are followed. It simply says that "congestion will not increase from today's levels," which are among the nation's worst.
In a shot at Downstate interests, the plan asserts: "Despite having 66% of the state's population, our region receives only 45% of the state's road funding. This so-called '55/45 Split' needs to be addressed."
The plan calls for new patterns of growth that emphasize compact, walkable communities rather than auto-dependent sprawl.
"During decades of rapid but largely uncoordinated expansion, the region grew in patterns that were not sustainable," it asserts.
The Tribune's Richard Wronski has already reported on CMAP's transportation wish list for new projects, including an extension of Illinois Highway 53 through central Lake County and an extension of the CTA's Red Line southward from its current terminus at 95th Street to 130th Street.
As Wronski wrote: "Whereas legendary Chicago planner Daniel Burnham is credited with the famous quote, 'Make no little plans. They have no magic …,' the message from Go to 2040 seems to be: 'Make no big plans. We have no money.'
"Instead of backing multibillion-dollar projects such as the proposed suburb-to-suburb Metra STAR Line and the outer-ring Prairie Parkway in Kane and Kendall counties, CMAP sets more modest goals, such as completing the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway and building a western bypass around O'Hare International Airport."
I'll be attending the CMAP briefing this morning and will offer an analysis of the plan later today.