"Invent the Future" results indicate northeastern Illinois residents want more transit options and compact development
Public input combines with strategic research to shape the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning's GO TO 2040 comprehensive regional plan
CHICAGO, December 8, 2009 -- Residents across metropolitan Chicago's seven counties tend to share consistent priorities for the region's future: more transit options, compact land development, reduced energy and water consumption, and more parks and open space. That's the message from more than 20,000 participants during the 2009 "Invent the Future" phase of public input to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), tied to the 100th anniversary of Daniel Burnham's landmark Plan of Chicago.
CMAP is combining this input with the agency's extensive strategy research to begin finalizing GO TO 2040, the official comprehensive plan that will guide development and infrastructure decisions across the region for decades to come. The agency has issued a new report that summarizes feedback via interactive web tools, workshops, kiosks, and booths at community festivals. See a related fact sheet that summarizes how CMAP is using the public feedback and map that shows where workshops, kiosks, and festival booths were hosted across the region.
From May to September, "Invent the Future" participants answered questions about how they think the region should plan to accommodate an additional 2.8 million new residents projected by 2040. Their responses cover a wide range of quality-of-life issues that will be addressed in the GO TO 2040 regional plan, including jobs, transportation, land use, energy, housing, education, natural resources, human services, and more.
The CMAP report contains staff analysis of preferences stated by workshop and web participants, which included the following:
- Respondents want moderately higher densities in development, with development focused in community and metropolitan centers. Fifty-five percent of the participants support moderately compact growth, with 20 percent supporting highly compact growth and 15 percent supporting current patterns of growth. Sixty-nine percent prefer for new development to occur in medium-size communities and larger metropolitan centers.
- Respondents support higher levels of investment in transit and alternative modes of transportation. Seventy-seven percent wanted a significant increase in transit investments to build the capacity of the existing system, which includes Metra, Pace, and the Chicago Transit Authority. Most participants support or strongly support alternative modes of transportation, while only nine percent want to maintain the current mix and one percent of respondents favor driving.
- Respondents want greater emphasis on environmental programs and policies. When asked how the region should manage natural resources in the future, about 62 percent wanted to maximize conservation programs and an additional 28 percent supported their expansion.
"Although this public input is not scientific, it confirms what we hear consistently from residents, which is that they want more transportation options and a healthy environment for themselves and future generations," said CMAP Board chairman Gerald Bennett, mayor of Palos Hills. "From the start of the GO TO 2040 planning process, CMAP has not only listened, but responded to residents' needs. CMAP conducted extensive research on natural resource policies and alternative modes of transportation, and both areas will be significant in the comprehensive plan."
Road investments are one area where the public response was equivocal. Forty percent of respondents want a moderate increase to improve the road network and add some capacity, while 30 percent call for minimum investment to repair existing roads without increasing capacity of the existing network. The remaining 30 percent want a significant increase in investment to improve the road network and add considerable capacity.
"The role of highway expansion in solving congestion continues to be an issue where there is significant disagreement," said CMAP executive director Randy Blankenhorn. "People clearly value quality of life, and traffic congestion is viewed as a detriment by nearly everyone. But I believe the mixed response regarding investment in roads reflects the view held by many that adding roadway capacity can worsen, rather than ease, traffic congestion. It's significant, however, that 70 percent of the participants want at least a moderate increase in road investment."
Nearly 1,500 residents participated at 57 two-hour workshops across the seven-county region, and hundreds more were reached through abbreviated presentations. CMAP also reached more than 14,000 individuals at five computer kiosks and 2,800 at fairs and festivals. At www.goto2040.org, about 2,200 web visitors created their own alternative scenarios for the future.
With sophisticated but easy-to-use tools that graphically depicted impacts of each choice, residents experimented with tradeoffs between transportation investments, development patterns, and other policy choices. Development of the interactive software was funded in part with support from The Chicago Community Trust. Participants were asked questions such as:
- What type of development should the region encourage?
- Should the region encourage development of new homes and businesses in community and/or metropolitan centers?
- How much should we invest in the road network and transit system?
- What transportation policies should we encourage -- ones that favor driving, support alternatives, or both?
- How much should we invest in managing energy, air quality, greenhouse gases and water?
Since early 2008, CMAP has been conducting extensive research via dozens of strategy papers and Regional Snapshot reports on topics that can be addressed through better planning. Combined with public input, the agency's research has shaped the draft "preferred Regional Scenario" that will be submitted to the CMAP Board for approval in January 2010.
Residents can read and comment on the draft preferred Regional Scenario. It builds on an earlier Regional Vision by articulating the policy directions that will be addressed more specifically in the full GO TO 2040 plan itself. A draft of the full plan will be issued in June, followed by the final plan -- and the start of an aggressive implementation campaign -- in October 2010.
About CMAP. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) is the comprehensive regional planning organization for the northeastern Illinois counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will. By state and federal law, CMAP is responsible for producing the region's official, integrated plan for land use and transportation. The agency's innovative GO TO 2040 planning campaign will develop and implement strategies to shape the region's transportation system and development patterns, while also addressing the natural environment, economic development, housing, education, human services, and other factors shaping quality of life. See www.cmap.illinois.gov for more information.