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CMAP Weekly Update, 11-22-13

Among the highlights from CMAP executive director Randy Blankenhorn,the December meetings for the CMAP Board and Local Coordinating Committee are cancelled, a recap of this week's U.S. DOT certification review, CMAP contributed an editorial in the Chicago Tribune on congestion pricing, new Policy Updates on the draft Primary Freight Network, federal gas tax, and Chicago Infrastructure Trust's  financing plan for building retrofits,  and opportunities to provide feedback on a number of LTA projects. Subscribe to get Weekly Updates by e-mail.

First Off...

CMAP Board meeting.  The Board's meeting for December is cancelled, as is the Local Coordinating Committee's.  The meetings will resume in January. 

U.S. DOT certification review. The U.S. Department of Transportation conducted its quadrennial certification review this week, including on-site meetings and discussion of CMAP's advanced review questionnaire. The certification process ensures that CMAP, as the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Chicago urbanized area, is meeting its federal requirements and provides U.S. DOT an opportunity to identify and share good planning practices throughout the U.S. Thank you to all who participated in the event. U.S. DOT plans to present a final report to the MPO Policy Committee and CMAP Board in March 2014.

Congestion pricing editorial. As part of the Chicago Tribune "A New Plan for Chicago" series, I contributed an op-ed column to advocate for express toll lanes as the most effective strategy for managing traffic region-wide.  Once proven successful on five GO TO 2040 projects, congestion pricing should become the norm on our expressway system.  To support this effort, please contact CMAP principal planner Erin Aleman (312-386-8816 or

Policy Updates. U.S. DOT released the draft Primary Freight Network in the Federal Register on Tuesday. CMAP staff has identified specific issues with the draft PFN and will work with its partners in the state and region to communicate those issues and any broader commentary to U.S. DOT during the one-month comment period. In other developments, a draft U.S. House of Representatives proposal would increase the federal gas tax by 15 cents and index it to inflation -- if introduced and passed, this would be the first increase to the federal motor fuel tax since 1993. The proposal also calls to eliminate the gas tax by 2024 in favor of a more stable source of funding. Finally, we described the Chicago Infrastructure Trust's approval of a financing plan to retrofit 75 public buildings.

Other News and Announcements

Best wishes.  On behalf of CMAP, I wish departing Chicago Department of Transportation commissioner Gabe Klein all the best in his new endeavors.  He has been a great partner on regional transportation issues.

LTA updates. Among recent highlights from CMAP's Local Technical Assistance program:

  • A public meeting for the Chinatown Community Vision Plan will be held December 9, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Pui Tak Center (2216 S. Wentworth, Third Floor, Chicago). Under development with the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community and 25th Ward Alderman Daniel Solis, this is the first community-developed plan for the neighborhood in over 100 years.
  • DNA Info described meetings held this week for the development of a land use strategy for Pilsen and Little Village, led by the City of Chicago's Department of Planning and Development, to complement each community's long-term physical, socio-economic, and cultural goals, as well as to address a range of topics that may include open space, active transportation, retail, manufacturing, housing, and arts and culture. The kick-off meetings held this week, with support from the Pilsen Neighbors Community Council and Enlace Chicago, focused on parks, open space, and green infrastructure.
  • The Chicago Tribune and Kane County Chronicle described recently held Homes for a Changing Region public meetings in Geneva and St. Charles. The planning effort also includes Geneva and North Aurora, in partnership with Kane County, the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, and MPC. Residents can provide input at throughout November. Learn more at
  • The Bronzeville Community Development Partnership and other local groups have led recent efforts to establish Bronzeville as a National Heritage Area through the National Park Service, which would help preserve the area's unique landscape and assets, as described in the Architect's Newspaper.
  • Residents and interested stakeholders can provide feedback via on-line surveys for a number of LTA projects underway -- a multimodal transportation plan for the University of Illinois at Chicago, a development regulations update for the Village of Park Forest, the Planning for Progress initiative for Cook County, and a comprehensive plan for the Village of Lyons.

Case studies library. Through its LTA program, CMAP collaborated with the Developing Communities Project (DCP) and the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) on a livability report in support of the proposed CTA Red Line South Extension. The project would extend the Red Line from its current terminus at the 95th Street Station four stops to 130th Street, as recommended by GO TO 2040. Since the report's completion, CTA's Environmental Impact Statement has been initiated and DCP continues to plan community education and visioning sessions for the proposed stations. The report and a video on the project are available at The GO TO 2040 case studies library highlights implementation activities for other completed LTA projects, as well as local examples of work that support recommendations from the comprehensive regional plan. For more information, please contact Lindsay Bayley ( or 312-386-8826).

CMAQ in the news. More than 50 projects will receive $286 million in federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program funds allocated by CMAP, as described in a press release. Read more on Cumberland Circle and Elgin-O'Hare Western Access projects. In other transportation news, I was interviewed for a Chicago Sun-Times article on future projects in the region. The piece includes an interactive map with project information and highlights many projects recommended for advancement in GO TO 2040.

BRT newsletter. A Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) newsletter features information on public meetings to discuss the Ashland Bus Rapid Transit Environmental Analysis on December 10 and 11, additional public outreach activities, and more.

Tax policy ruling. Yesterday, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that shifting official point of sale purchases from the Chicago area to downstate counties with lower sales tax rates violated state law. Such practices have been a point of contention with the Regional Transportation Authority, as described in this Policy Update. Read more in Crain's Chicago Business and the Trib.

New inland port authority. The Village of Elwood recently created an international inland port authority to promote its intermodal distribution center, as well as address traffic and public safety issues.

Free technical assistance. Smart Growth America is offering free technical assistance workshops for municipalities.  By December 6, regional governments can apply for support on smart growth implementation strategies around land use, maximizing existing resources, and strategically investing public funds.

CMAP Blogs

Soles and Spokes. CMAP's bike-ped planning blog highlighted the update of a Federal Highway Administration issue brief on the effectiveness of various countermeasures in preventing pedestrian crashes. The updated brief includes new countermeasures such pedestrian hybrid beacons, high visibility crosswalks, new traffic signals, and increased pedestrian crossing times.


Transportation Alternatives Program comment period. The draft set of projects for the FY 2013-14 CMAP Transportation Alternatives program was released for public comment. Comments send to Jesse Elam ( will be accepted until December 16, 2013.

Upcoming UIC talks. On December 3 from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., I will be on a panel on the future of regional transportation planning with CMAP Board member Frank Beal, among others (Great Cities Institute, 412 S. Peoria Street, Suite 400). RSVP at UIC will hold its annual Urban Forum on December 5 at 725 W. Roosevelt Road, and this year's theme is Technology and the Resilience of Metropolitan Regions. I'll speak on an afternoon panel, "The Growing Metropolis: How will emerging technologies influence urban growth and development?" Register on-line.

2014 ArcGIS workshops. CMAP periodically offers a Two-Day ArcGIS Basic 10.1 Workshop, and dates have been set for 2014: February 5-6, March 19-20, April 30 to May 1, May 28-29, and June 18-19. The cost is $350. For more information and to register, please contact Jan Drennan (