Putting GO TO 2040 into practice requires a broad and diverse approach that includes collaborative actions by many groups. Implementation of GO TO 2040 got off to a fast start the day after its adoption with a $4.25 million, three-year federal grant that has enabled the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) to begin a Local Technical Assistance program that is helping communities put the regional plan to work locally. That is just one important example highlighted in the GO TO 2040 Implementation Report for 2010–11.
Also included in the report is a detailed update on progress toward implementing the GO TO 2040 major capital projects. The plan's recommended actions are aimed at government (municipalities, counties, state, and federal), regional authorities, the business community including developers, nongovernmental and philanthropic organizations, and individual residents. Coordinated action among these groups is the key to achieving desired GO TO 2040 outcomes.
With GO TO 2040, our region is addressing its challenges and opportunities with a new level of coordination and strategic intent to achieve prosperity that is sustainable for generations to come.
See below for selected highlights that are also featured in a printed poster-brochure that complements the full report. Please just let us know if you would like one or more copies -- they would look great on walls across the region. We hope you enjoy reading about these selected highlights, and we encourage you to get involved in helping to shape the future of metropolitan Chicago.
Illinois Tollway Capital Plan
GO TO 2040 urges the federal government, the State of Illinois, transit agencies, and local governments to develop innovative financing for strategic investments to support a world-class transportation system for this new century. Although the plan's primary transportation emphasis is to maintain and modernize the system, the plan recommends several major capital projects that will maximize regional benefits of mobility and economic development.
In August 2011, the Illinois Tollway approved a 15-year, $12 billion "Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future" capital program. In addition to finishing system reconstruction initiated in 2005, the plan includes expansion projects such as improvements to the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I–90)—which includes multi-modal strategies—the Elgin O'Hare West Bypass, and the Tri-State Tollway (I–294)/I–57 Interchange. The Tollway's capital program is an example of substantial transportation investment financed directly through dedicated user fees, as recommended by GO TO 2040.
The Tollway has established a Blue Ribbon Advisory Council to help guide study of the Illinois Route 53/120 Corridor, which is also a high priority of GO TO 2040. CMAP is doing extensive planning work to support the Council, which began to meet in September 2011. Its three working groups are addressing mobility and finance, design and land use, and environment and sustainability.
CREATE Freight Partnership
Planning for an efficient, regional, multimodal freight system is a priority of GO TO 2040, which supports increased investment in the region's freight system. While funded primarily by the private sector, freight infrastructure also requires public investments to promote the economy, public health, and safety.
The CREATE (Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency) program is addressing the need for coordinated public-private investments to reduce delays of rail shipments and motorists in our region, while improving safety and reliability. A partnership of the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Chicago Department of Transportation, Metra, and the region's freight railroads, CREATE is funded in part by a $100 million award—the nation's second largest of its type—from the U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) competitive program.
Construction or engineering has begun on a number of CREATE projects. As of January 2012, among the 70 projects identified by CREATE, 12 were complete, 14 were under construction, and 19 were in preliminary engineering. Due in part to the completed CREATE improvements, the Illinois Commerce Commission has estimated that motorist delays at railroad grade crossings— a key GO TO 2040 indicator—have fallen from nearly 11,000 hours per weekday in 2002 to under 8,000 hours per weekday in 2011.
CMAP Local Technical Assistance
Local governments play an essential role in implementing GO TO 2040. Because GO TO 2040 upholds local control over land use and zoning, responsibility for implementing many of its key recommendations—particularly regarding choices that directly shape communities' livability—is the responsibility of municipal decision makers. Yet many communities lack the staff capacity to take on needed planning projects.
CMAP's new Local Technical Assistance (LTA) program, which includes contributions from many partners, is meant to address this gap. Funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program, LTA is helping 70 local governments, nonprofits, and intergovernmental organizations to address local issues at the intersection of transportation, land use, and housing, including the natural environment, economic growth, and community development. In the first call for projects in early 2011, CMAP received over 220 proposals from more than 130 applicants. The next call for projects will be in spring 2012.
LTA projects begun in 2011 include local comprehensive plans and more-specialized ones for housing, water, transit oriented redevelopment, and overall sustainability. CMAP coordinates the project activities, which include a broad array of local governments, regional and state agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and philanthropic groups.
Energy Impact Illinois
Conservation of energy and water is a top priority for GO TO 2040, as these resources will likely become more constrained in the future. In addition to economic and environmental benefits, efficient use of energy and water resources will help reduce emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
Funded with $25 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the Energy Impact Illinois (EI2) alliance seeks to simplify the often-complex process of improving energy efficiency for residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. EI2 also links investors and funding resources with energy efficiency efforts. In June, the alliance launched an information hub for consumers and contractors at EnergyImpactIllinois.org. In fall 2011, EI2 began a highly visible print and video campaign that entertainingly used "The Energy Bills"—two characters, one thrifty and the other not—to educate the public about benefits of energy efficiency and drive demand for EI2 retrofit financing programs.
EI2 is led by CMAP, in partnership with the City of Chicago, City of Rockford, ComEd, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), Illinois Science and Technology Coalition, Nicor Gas, North Shore Gas, Peoples Gas, the Northern Illinois Energy Project, and the Center for Neighborhood Technology.
Kane County Livability Initiatives
GO TO 2040 recognizes the interrelated nature of transportation, land use, health, and the natural environment. Several recent initiatives in Kane County are demonstrating how the links between these topics can be operationalized locally through the "Quality of Kane" campaign, which integrates the County's health, transportation, and land use planning efforts.
Adopted by the Kane County Board in April 2011, the Fit for Kids 2020 plan is a framework for making environmental and policy changes to stem childhood obesity. In November, a funders' consortium awarded 17 grants to local agencies and community groups to implement the Fit for Kids 2020 strategies, including programs to promote healthy lifestyles through new playgrounds, better access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and encouragement of physical activity.
In 2011, Kane County also finished its 2040 Energy Plan. Focusing on how projected growth would impact electricity consumption, it includes analysis of energy use across the county and strategies for reducing consumption over the next 30 years. Additionally, Kane County voters in April 2011 approved a $30 million open space bond referendum for the Forest Preserve District of Kane County to acquire 1,500 to 2,000 acres of conservation land. This demonstrates residents' willingness to invest in open space, supporting GO TO 2040's recommendations in this area.
The County will consider adoption of its comprehensive 2040 Plan, which synthesizes these and other issues, in early 2012. The 2040 Plan integrates two other plans also slated for adoption in 2012—the County's Community Health Improvement Plan and 2040 Transportation Plan—and proposes a County-led planning cooperative to help with implementation. Notably, the 2040 Transportation Plan addresses roadway, bicycle and pedestrian, and transit systems, and it advances planning for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service for the Randall/Orchard Road corridor.
GO TO 2040 supports government transparency and intergovernmental data sharing as preconditions for efficient governance. Public policy coordination and regional problem-solving require comprehensive, current, accurate information.
Launched one month after GO TO 2040's adoption—as a partnership of CMAP and The Chicago Community Trust—MetroPulse contains over 5,000 datasets and 200 indicators organized into categories consistent with GO TO 2040. It helps to facilitate effective decision making and tracking of progress toward the plan's goals. Since its launch, the MetroPulse project has made its application program interface (API) freely available, added new data sets and features, and released a free iPhone app.
Since GO TO 2040's adoption, several prominent government entities in the Chicago region have published open data portals to make extensive new information resources publicly available. The City of Chicago, Cook County, and the State of Illinois all launched catalogs of downloadable data, giving policy makers and researchers a much-improved base of information with which to create their own applications.
CMAP served as a founding partner in the Apps for Metro Chicago contest, which challenged web developers to create useful online applications based on available data from the City of Chicago, Cook County, CMAP, and the State of Illinois. From among 54 entrants in categories including community and transportation, expert judges and the public selected winners who shared $50,000 in prizes. The Grand Challenge winner, SpotHero, connects parking demand with supply while helping to reduce congestion.
Many of our most pressing problems—in transportation, housing, economic vitality, and environmental quality— cannot be solved solely by the actions of any single level of government. Coordinated investment is needed across all levels of government.
The City of Chicago and Cook County have made important strides to increase coordination of services and reduce costs. A joint County-City efficiency committee has identified between $66 million and $140 million annually in potential savings and service improvements. Additional collaborative efforts are underway, notably with regard to joint purchasing, open data, and public safety data sharing.
Several collaborations between municipalities also advanced in 2011. Two interjurisdictional groups—the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association and the West Cook County Housing Collaborative—have received HUD Community Challenge grants since the plan's adoption to help link housing, transportation, and land use. Implementation of these grants will build on multijurisdictional studies of housing supply and demand through the Homes for a Changing Region program with support from public, nonprofit, and philanthropic groups. A new collaboration of municipalities in northwest Cook County was launched in 2011 with similar goals.
In the area of water resources, eighty municipalities and five counties make up the Northwest Water Planning Alliance, whose mission involves sustainable water resources planning. This consortium of groundwater-dependent communities was created as a response to the findings of Water 2050, which provided scientific predictions of the potential future unreliability of groundwater sources in northeastern Illinois.
Alignment of Nonprofit and Philanthropic Agendas
The nonprofit and philanthropic communities were actively engaged in the development of GO TO 2040, most visibly in extensive support by The Chicago Community Trust, which co-developed MetroPulse with CMAP. Continuing as a central partner in the plan's implementation, in November 2011 the Trust issued a request for proposals for local sustainability projects and included consistency with GO TO 2040 among the evaluation criteria. Nonprofits working on conservation, energy efficiency, transportation, housing, workforce development, and local food received support in 2011 from private foundations such as The MacArthur Foundation, Grand Victoria Foundation, Donnelley Foundation, Joyce Foundation, Fry Foundation, Field Foundation, and Lake County Community Foundation, among other philanthropic groups. Alignment of interests and financial resources from the philanthropic sector is expected to continue to contribute to the success of GO TO 2040's recommendations.
Nongovernmental organizations also took significant action in 2011 to advance GO TO 2040. The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has strongly supported GO TO 2040, convening a well-attended series of roundtables that explored relevant initiatives in the region. MPC has done important work on housing, transportation, and the natural environment, including working with the Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Department of Transportation, and other partners to prioritize Bus Rapid Transit on arterial streets, and helping to coordinate civic and business leaders' input for improvements to Union Station. Also, "What Our Water's Worth" is a web-based regional campaign led by MPC and Openlands to raise awareness about the value of water itself, as well as the infrastructure and services that provide it.
The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) has continued to improve its Housing + Transportation (H+T) Affordability Index— a key indicator in GO TO 2040—to help planners across the U.S. identify hidden transportation costs associated with siting decisions. In 2011, CNT used the Index to analyze investments by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) for location efficiency, prompting IHDA to weigh job access more strongly in its project evaluations.
Further, many of the other projects already highlighted in this implementation report—specifically including intergovernmental collaboration efforts—have involved significant philanthropic and nonprofit support from the groups listed above, as well as the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, Metropolis Strategies, Urban Land Institute, Openlands, and other partners.