Computer models show congestion pricing's benefits for metropolitan Chicago residents and region
Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) has launched a new website, www.cmap.illinois.gov/congestion-pricing/, to demonstrate the need for congestion pricing as a tool to manage traffic and help pay for infrastructure improvements. The website features new computer-modeled analysis by CMAP and describes significant benefits of congestion pricing, which uses "express toll lanes" to manage traffic for faster, reliable travel times. If it were implemented on five new construction projects, express-lane drivers during the morning rush would reach their destinations 31 to 66 percent quicker, at a modest additional cost.
The CMAP study looks at five expressway projects as recommended by the GO TO 2040 comprehensive regional plan. These include two new facilities -- the Illinois Route 53 north extension and Illinois Route 120 bypass and the Elgin-O'Hare West Bypass -- plus new lanes on the I-90 Addams Tollway, the I-290 Eisenhower Expressway, and the I-55 Stevenson Expressway.
Momentum for congestion pricing has been building in the region. The GO TO 2040 plan, adopted in October 2010, strongly recommended it as a tool for managing traffic flow and financing infrastructure. The Illinois Tollway's I-90 Corridor Planning Council and IL-53/120 Blue Ribbon Advisory Council recommended congestion pricing for both those expressway projects. The Tollway board would need to approve both those implementations, with construction on the I-90 Addams Tollway additional lane project beginning as soon as next year. As a new expressway, the IL-53/120 project will take additional time.
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is already evaluating congestion pricing as part of constructing a new lane on the I-55 Stevenson expressway. Likewise, IDOT is looking at it as part of plans to improve travel on the I-290 Eisenhower expressway. CMAP's research also indicates that congestion pricing could be successfully implemented on the new Elgin-O'Hare West Bypass.
Each of these Tollway and IDOT projects was elevated as a high regional priority by the GO TO 2040 comprehensive plan. As the official Metropolitan Planning Organization, CMAP has federal and state mandates to ensure that the region's highway and transit systems are adequately funded and maintained. For major projects such as these to be included in the regional plan -- and therefore to be eligible for federal funds -- they must meet the strict U.S. Department of Transportation standard of "fiscal constraint," which means that funding from all sources will be adequate to build and maintain them.
The LTA home page has details of activities sponsored by the HUD Sustainable Communities grant to CMAP for support of community projects that advance the principles of GO TO 2040. In our second call for projects through the Local Technical Assistance (LTA) program, CMAP received over 100 proposals from more than 80 applicants. View the press release and summary of selected projects.
An interactive map of local case studies describes projects and people that exemplify the goals and objectives of GO TO 2040.
CMAP's Local Ordinances and Toolkits program provides resources to municipalities interested in pursuing policies that are aligned with GO TO 2040 recommendations.