The region’s existing roadway network has a number of pressing needs that can be addressed through a combination of operational improvements and capital investments. These needs include safety, mobility, reliability, and condition.
Increasing safety on the region’s roadways has been a critical focus of state, federal, and local transportation agencies for decades. New vehicle safety technologies -- including crash avoidance, lane keeping, and potentially even fully connected and automated vehicles -- can have a substantive impact on roadway safety. But a recent uptick in fatalities demonstrates the need to continue investing in other strategies, under the control of local communities. Many of the strategies that improve safety can also reduce congestion and improve the reliability of the transportation network, particularly important given that many of the parts of the road network with safety needs also have reliability and congestion issues.
The road segments highlighted on this map in black scored in the top 20 percent of safety needs based on available data in 2016. This score was included in the evaluation of regionally significant projects for ON TO 2050. Projects on roads with identified safety issues should incorporate design elements that address the causes of crashes, and particularly focus on improving the safety of vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. These areas should also be priorities for implementation of operations strategies that improve responses to incidents and prevent secondary crashes that occur when traffic is disrupted by an earlier incident. For more information about improving the safety of the region’s transportation network, see the recommendation Improve travel safety.
A well‐maintained system is a primary concern of every transportation agency. Given the maturity of the system in the Chicago area, the majority of investment in our road network has been and will continue to be devoted to maintaining and improving the condition of our roads and bridges. ON TO 2050 targets reducing the percent of the region’s major roads in poor condition to under 10 percent by 2050, and reducing the percent of bridge deck area in poor condition to less than 6.5 percent.
The road segments highlighted on this map in red scored in the top 20 percent of roads in terms of condition improvement needs based on available data in 2016. ON TO 2050 prioritizes projects that address critical condition needs as part of the evaluation of regionally significant projects, and encourages the use of condition data as part of other transportation project evaluation processes. Road segments that are not identified as having a critical condition need should still be evaluated and maintained as part of data-driven pavement management plans. Regular maintenance of roads and bridges extends the life of these assets and saves money over the long run. For more information on asset management, see the recommendation Enhance the region's approach to transportation programming.
Unreliable travel costs divers, transit riders, and businesses in our region, as they must budget extra time and expense to avoid being late for work, appointments, or deliveries. A wide range of unpredictable factors including crashes, construction, and weather cause more delay nationwide than over-capacity roadways. ON TO 2050 sets a goal of improving travel time reliability, which will involve both investments in eliminating bottlenecks and investments in technologies and strategies that improve operational responses to weather, crashes, and other sources of delay. CMAP evaluated all proposed regionally significant projects and prioritized those that addressed more severe reliability problems.
The road segments highlighted on this map in blue scored in the top 20 percent for unreliable travel time based on available data in 2016. Roadways that experience both unreliable travel times and congestion should be evaluated for potential design improvements that eliminate bottlenecks and potential increases in capacity, but transportation agencies should first consider operational improvements such as implementing traffic management centers and enhancing incident detection and management. For more information about operations strategies, see the recommendation Harness technology to improve travel and anticipate future impacts.
Congestion increases costs for businesses and drivers and worsens air quality in the Chicago region. ON TO 2050 sets a goal of reducing the average number of hours per weekday that the region’s expressways are congested by an hour and twenty minutes. However, after slight declines in congestion over the past decade, there are indications that congestion is increasing, particularly on roads that are already congested, and during the morning and afternoon rush hours. CMAP evaluated proposed regionally significant projects for their existing congestion levels.
The road segments highlighted on this map in yellow scored in the top 20 percent for congestion based on available data in 2015. Roadways that experience congestion should be evaluated for potential design improvements that eliminate bottlenecks and potential increases in capacity but transportation agencies should first consider operational improvements such as traffic signal coordination and other travel demand management techniques. IDOT and the Tollway should prioritize these expressway segments when considering implementing managed lanes and tolling, which would help manage demand, improve transit operations, and raise revenues to improve the condition of pavement and bridges. For more information on managed lanes and tolling, see the recommendation Fully fund the region's transportation system.