Weekly Update, 1/2/09
MPO Policy Committee. The Policy Committee will meet on Thursday, January 8, 2009,at 10:00 a.m. Meeting materials can be found on the CMAP website at/mpo-policy-committee/minutes.
EJ&E decision. On December 24, 2008, the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) issued its long-awaited decision regarding the Canadian National (CN) railway's acquisition of the Elgin, Joliet, and Eastern (EJ&E) railway. The three-member board approved the purchase unanimously. The STB issued a press release, which stated that the merger "marks a significant step forward in our nation's efforts to alleviate rail and highway congestion." The board imposed a five-year oversight period during which CN is required to submit monthly operational reports to the STB. Among the required mitigation, CN must pay the majority of costs for highway-rail grade separations at Ogden Avenue in Aurora and Lincoln Highway in Lynwood, both of which are part of the Strategic Regional Arterial system.
Infrastructure priorities.CMAP Board chairman Gerald Bennett was quoted this week in The Reporter's story about the prospects for Illinois to receive -- and wisely use -- infrastructure funding as part of the anticipated federal economic recovery package. Today, Paul Merrion of Crain's Chicago Business covers the same topic, emphasizing CREATE as an example where projects are "shovel ready." Last week, Jon Hilkevitch of the Chicago Tribune wrote about the issue,with links to IDOT's lists of projects that might be funded through the federal recovery package. As I said to Crain's and the Trib, it's important that weget this right. CMAP has issued an infrastructure principle statement (opens 195KB PDF)that describes steps through which our region, state, and nationcan balance the need for short-term economic stimulus with the need for long-term reform of how priorities are set.
Blog entries.CMAP's GO TO 2040 blog features two new posts. Diana Torres writes about the Chicago Community Trust's new Vital Signs project. And Lindsay Banks describes her New Year's resolutions for a sustainable 2009.
Cathy in the Trib. On December 24, the Tribune'slead editorial featured a photo of CMAP's own Cathy Holland-Hatcher (70KB PDF). Cathy was bundled up on her way to lunch near Sears Tower last Tuesday when photographer Chris Walker snapped her picture. Though he had photographed a number of other pedestrians the same day, he must have known he had a winner. He told Cathy to look for the photo in the next day's paper, and sure enough, there it was. Click here for a color version of the photo.