The Chicago (Ill.) Department of Transportation (CDOT) has released a strategic transportation plan that it’s calling “the nation’s first” urban plan developed in the wake of the pandemic, economic and racial justice crises of 2020. Also, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is now accepting applications for its Outstanding Achievement Award for Excellence in Environmental Document Preparation.
The CDOT reported that its plan (download below) has four key pillars: Access to Opportunity, Aligning Our Streets with Our Values, Streets Free from Violence, and A CDOT That Works.
Those pillars provide a framework for 21 goals, 84 strategies and hundreds of benchmarks laid out in one- and three-year increments to “chart a course toward building safer streets; reprioritizing transportation projects to increase access to opportunities for residents in historically neglected neighborhoods; working with CTA [Chicago Transit Authority] and regional transit agencies to expand public transportation access; creating safer streets and crosswalks to encourage walking; and expanding bike share, bike lanes and dedicated bus lanes citywide.” The plan also includes six “Equity Challenges” posed by the Transportation Equity Network (TEN) with the CDOT’s goals and strategies to meet them.
CDOT as well as sister agencies and departments and TEN participated in plan development.
Among the plan’s rail-related goals:
• “Mitigate community impacts of movement of freight through Chicago by improving safety and efficiency.” CDOT will develop a comprehensive freight plan; continue to implement the CREATE program, including completion of the “Chicago Rail Futures II” study, and to maximize other freight rail partnerships; and expand CDOT’s role in the movement of goods and services on the city’s waterways; among other measures.
• “Partner with CTA to reduce commute times and improve the transit experience for all Chicagoans.” CDOT will work to expand transit access to more residents through coordination with CTA as well as Metra and Pace Suburban Bus.
• “Bring CDOT’s infrastructure into a state of good repair.” This includes working with freight rail operators to advance the viaduct clearance improvement program and improve the condition of underpasses.
FTA’s biennial award for excellence in environmental document preparation recognizes environmental assessments and environmental impact statements that “exemplify innovative approaches or best practices for well-managed environmental decision processes; comply with requirements and expectations; and achieve the objective of paperwork reduction.” FTA-funded project sponsors and their consultants are eligible to apply.
Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) was the 2019 honoree for its work on an environmental impact statement for the West Lake Corridor project, extending the South Shore Line commuter rail service 7.8 miles from Hammond (on the north) to Dyer (on the south).
Applications, including the environmental document and brief justification, are due by Sept. 3, 2021. FTA will notify winners by October and present the awards at the 2021 APTA TRANSform Meeting in November. FTA’s website provides further details.