Transportation Capital Projects
Photo by Flickr user katherine of chicago
GO TO 2040 makes specific recommendations concerning major transportation capital projects. The plan's treatment of these is contained in the "Invest Strategically in Transportation" section, online here; this page is meant to give additional background on these projects.
What are major capital projects?
Only a small group of all the region's transportation projects are considered "major capital projects." They are large projects with a significant effect on the capacity of the region's transportation system, including extensions or additional lanes on the interstate system, entirely new expressways, or similar changes to the passenger rail system. Arterial expansions and intersection improvements are not defined as major capital projects; neither are bus facilities, unless they involve a dedicated lane on an expressway.
Why is the GO TO 2040 plan addressing these projects?
A long-range transportation capital element is being developed as part of the GO TO 2040 planning process. The capital element is required for projects in the region to be eligible to receive federal transportation funds. It will show the major transportation capital projects that will be pursued between now and 2040. The projects must be fiscally constrained and not exceed pollution emissions limits. To be considered "fiscally constrained," the cost of these projects will not exceed the expected funds available between now and 2040. When evaluating pollution emissions, the region's existing transportation system, plus the proposed projects, must meet air quality "budgets," or pollution emissions limits set by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. A transportation system that meets these budgets is said to be "in conformity."
Where do project ideas come from?
Many major projects are contained in the 2030 Regional Transportation Plan; others have been identified by transportation agencies but were not included in the current plan. Private citizens have had other ideas that are being considered.
How were projects evaluated?
Transportation capital projects proposed for the region have been evaluated against measures assessing how well they perform in light of the regional indicators, as well as planning factors established by the United States Department of Transportation. CMAP developed evaluation measures for major capital projects beginning with a report on best practices in other regions around the country prepared by the Volpe Center, the research branch of the US Department of Transportation. Using this report and feedback from CMAP committees, a list of evaluation measures was adopted in June 2009. Project proposals were evaluated individually; a detailed description and evaluation of each individual project can be found here. See also this related staff memo to the MPO Policy Committee. PLAN UPDATE: On March 13 and 14, 2013, the CMAP Board and MPO Policy Committee voted to amend GO TO 2040 by adding Circle Interchange improvements to the plan's list of fiscally constrained projects and by changing the proposed Prairie Parkway description in the list of unconstrained projects.