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Call for ON TO 2050 Regionally Significant Projects

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) is our region's official comprehensive planning organization.  The agency and its partners are developing ON TO 2050, a new comprehensive regional plan to help the seven counties and 284 communities of northeastern Illinois implement strategies that address transportation, housing, economic development, open space, the environment, and other quality-of-life issues.

ON TO 2050 will include a recommended set of regionally significant transportation projects. These are large scale highway or transit projects that either increase the capacity of the transportation system or rebuild a major existing facility.  CMAP staff has worked with transportation agencies in the region to identify a potential list of highway and transit projects for consideration.  From September 16, 2016 until October 31, 2016, members of the public are being asked to submit project ideas for consideration in the planning process. 

Please note that "regionally significant" should not be construed as "high priority" or "must get built."  To the contrary, it means that, because a project would have such significant impacts on mobility -- including costs, congestion, and other factors -- it must be reviewed at a greater level of detail than lower-impact projects. Therefore, a regionally significant project should meet the following thresholds for consideration:

  1. Costs at least $100 million and (a) changes capacity on the National Highway System (NHS) or is a new expressway or principal arterial, or (b) changes capacity on transit services with some separate rights-of-way or shared right-of-way where transit has priority over other traffic; or
  1. Costs at least $250 million and improves the state of good repair for a particular highway or transit facility.    

 Examples of such projects include:

  • The construction of a new lane on an arterial road or expressway, such as the addition of lanes to the Jane Addams Tollway (I-90).
  • Building or extending a commuter rail line, such as the extension of the Metra UP West line from Geneva to Elburn.
  • The construction of a new arterial road or expressway, such as the Stearns Road Bridge Corridor in Kane County or the extension of the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway.
  • The construction of a bus rapid transit line.
  • Rebuilding a significant stretch of expressway or a large transit facility.

For reference, the projects that have already been submitted by transportation agencies in the region can be found here.  Please note that we are seeking additional project ideas rather than comments on the projects that have already been submitted for consideration.  In particular, CMAP encourages units of local government, public officials, and advocacy groups to respond.

How to Submit a Project Idea

Potential projects should be submitted via email to with the subject line of "Regionally Significant Projects."  The following information should be included in the email to the best of the submitter's abilities.

  1. Project Title
  2. Potential Implementer - the agency expected to be responsible for completing the project
  3. Brief Description – include all the work that is to be accomplished as well as the limits of the project (e.g., rail line extension from Geneva to Elburn)
  4. Estimate of Costs – include the costs of engineering, right-of-way-acquisition, and constructing the project
  5. Attach a Project Map – while not required, it may be useful for understanding the location of the project
  6. Contact Information  - in case clarification or further information is needed on the project
  7. Connection to Project – do you represent an agency/organization and what is that agency's relationship to the proposed project

For assistance or questions on the process or thresholds, please send an email to

Next Steps

Since the region is unlikely to have the financial resources to build every project, part of the planning process will involve prioritizing the proposed projects based on their benefits and their costs.  CMAP staff and partners will conduct a technical evaluation of the projects and report the findings in summer 2017.  After discussion with stakeholders, staff anticipates making recommendations on priority projects to the CMAP committees and governing boards in late 2017 and early 2018.  A public comment period on the draft comprehensive plan, including the recommended transportation projects, will be held in spring 2018.  Please stay engaged in the planning process through