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September 12, 2013
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Chicago Department of Transportation Releases Action Agenda

On May 11, 2012, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) released its two-year strategic plan, "Chicago Forward." The plan has six themes: Safety First, Rebuild and Renew, Choices for Chicago, Serving Chicagoans, A More Sustainable City, and Fuel Our Economy. Twenty-eight policies are organized under these six categories, as well as over 170 action items. Throughout the plan, multiple examples of recently completed or ongoing CDOT projects illustrate how the department has implemented these policies.

The plan presents several ambitious goals and specific, measureable steps to achieve them. For example, it pledges that CDOT will eliminate all bicycle, pedestrian, and traffic fatalities within ten years and cites various evaluation, engineering, enforcement, and educational actions -- such as installing countdown pedestrian signals at 300 intersections in 2012 -- to help meet this goal.

"Chicago Forward" is consistent with many policies recommended in GO TO 2040, such as maintaining and modernizing the existing transportation system, promoting alternative modes of transportation, improving public access to information, protecting the natural environment, and enhancing the regional economy. "Chicago Forward" places particular emphasis on supporting bicycle and pedestrian modes, as well as on sustainable construction and design practices.

Through this plan, CDOT also takes a somewhat regional perspective. The plan explicitly calls for CDOT to support the implementation of GO TO 2040, acknowledges issues that cross jurisdictions such as air quality and goods movement, and pledges to work with regional partners to address common issues such as transportation financing. More specifically, the plan identifies the state's "55/45 split," in which the Illinois Department of Transportation directs the majority of road funds to downstate Illinois, as a major policy issue. To learn more about CMAP's position on these issues, read our issue brief on the 55/45 split, as well as our proposal for performance-based evaluation for transportation funding.

"Chicago Forward" does not provide much detail on how CDOT will finance its recommendations. The document does not include a budget for the programs identified in the plan, such as expected revenues or cost estimates over the next two years. The plan provides few financial details beyond expenditures on, or estimated cost savings for, a small number of featured projects. The plan does not mention how CDOT will interface with the newly-passed Chicago Infrastructure Trust and does not provide detail on its proposed transportation enterprise fund.

CDOT's "Chicago Forward" plan has a comprehensive focus, is consistent with GO TO 2040, and emphasizes transparent performance measurement. While the policies and projects included in the plan are generally existing initiatives, "Chicago Forward" is the first document to tie them all together under a common framework. CMAP hopes future plans will assess progress made toward past goals and also include more data on costs and financing.

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