Chicago Sun-Times

November 2008 Archives

On Thursday, the Illinois Tollway approved Gov. Rod Blagojevich's idea to build carpool lanes on the most congested parts of the tollroads. The Tollway officials thinks this will ease congestion and reduce emissions, by encouraging both carpooling and the use of hybrid vehicles. But they haven't quite figure out how to do it yet. See today's story.

There have been public hearings about this, but that doesn't mean everyone's questions are answered. Here's a letter:

Dear Mary, I am so upset about these car pool lanes on the tollway. My Mom lives in Tinley Park and I live in Niles. I travel everyweek different days of the week to see her and I travel it alone. There is no one to car pool with. Now does this mean I will have to pay more to just visit my Mom. That sounds insane. The car pool lanes should be in operation only during rush hour. How can I email the person running this operation? Please print whatever you want of my concerns. Thank you Sincerely, JoAnne

Here was my reply:

Hi, JoAnne, What the Tollway is saying is that if you're traveling alone, you can't drive in the carpool lane without paying a higher rate -- that doesn't mean you can't drive in the other lanes. But if you think this will interfere with getting where you're going on time, you could write a letter addressed to Illinois Tollway Chairman John Mitola at the Illinois Tollway 2700 Ogden Ave Downers Grove, IL 60515. Remember, this is still a work in progress -- it may be that the higher tolls will only apply during rush hour, so it may not affect your trips to see your Mom.

CTA Weekend Construction

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It's the weekend -- so that means CTA work, right? This weekend we have repair work and suspended service on three rail lines -- Blue, Green and Yellow.

Blue Line service between the Clark/Lake and the Division L stations will be suspended from 9 p.m. Friday until 3 a.m. Monday for track and signal work. Also this weekend, Green Line service between 35th/Bronzeville/IIT and Roosevelt will be suspended from 1:30 a.m. Saturday to 4 a.m. Monday for repairs, and on the Skokie Swift / Yellow Line from 6 a.m. till 3 p.m. Sunday. Bus shuttles will be offered for the suspended L service.

As always, leave more time. A young friend of mine got caught by that Blue Line construction last Saturday -- and ended up very, very panicked and 15 minutes late to a school activity. The teacher didn't accept the CTA as an excuse.

The Cranky Commuter #1

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This is the start of a semi-regular feature on this blog. The commuter in question is me -- I am frequently cranky. I'm going to write about stuff that bugs me on the roads, the L, Metra, in airports -- wherever we get around. I wonder if this stuff bugs you too -- or if I am alone in my crankiness.

The gripe of the day is those little TV screens they've started mounting on top of gas pumps. I was pumping gas at a Citgo on Irving Park this past weekend, wanting to zone out a little and enjoy the fact that suburban gas was around $2.26. It had been a busy day, a busy week -- my brain was full.

Then suddenly I found myself watching people falling on their butts -- a little kid falling off his skates, somebody getting knocked over by their dog, somebody getting whacked with a cane. No room for reverie here, no room for one quiet moment while the kids were in the car -- it was time for noisy, cheap sight gags. Something I would never choose to watch on TV was being aimed at me, whether I wanted it or not.

This 3-minute montage of people-falling-on-their-butts was followed by an ad for a company claiming it could help you sell your invention, and a bunch of other ads I didn't want to see. It was like being trapped in front of 3 a.m. television -- there was everything but a Vegematic and a Popeil Pocket Fisherman.

I know gas stations have thin margins, and I know they're trying to pick up a little extra money in these times of up-and-down oil prices. But I have enough noise pollution in my life. I hate these things, just like I hate the TV screens at the check-out at the grocery store. Can't you leave me in peace to read the National Enquirer? Can't I just pump my gas and look at the night sky?

I will avoid any gas station that uses these screens. No falling-on-your-butt videos. I already know where gas prices give me pain -- I don't need a visual. Am I alone here -- does anyone like watching ads while they pump gas?

CTA Fare Increase Vote

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The CTA Board was expected to vote Wednesday on next year's fare increase -- but the meeting was postponed. Tune in Thursday morning. If the hikes are approved, you'll start paying more Jan. 1.

More Budget Hearings

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If you missed your turn taking part in the CTA budget hearing late last month, you can still attend public transit hearings for the entire system. The Regional Transportation Authority, which oversees the CTA, Metra and Pace, is holding a second round of public hearings to address the regional mass transit budget for 2009. Four will be in Chicago -- they are:

Monday, Nov. 17, 6 p.m. at Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson in Room 1176

Tuesday, Nov. 18, 6 p.m. at Carter G. Woodson Public Library auditorium, 9625 S. Halsted

Tuesday, Nov. 18 at the National Museum of Mexican Art, second floor board room, 1852 W. 19th Street.

Wednesday, Nov. 19, 6 p.m., Malcolm X College, 2nd Floor, Room 2418 1900 W. Van Buren.

Other hearing times are available here.

Neil Young: Train Man

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Monday's "Ride" Quiz asked: What Canadian rocker is a big fan of little trains? The answer is Toronto-born Neil Young, who was such a big fan of Lionel he bought into the company. He is now a "partner" with the model railroad maker, according to a company spokesman. Our winner, Peter Smith of Elizabeth, Ill., will get a Sun-Times T-Shirt.

The weekend's coming, so expect CTA construction.

Beginning at 10 p.m. Friday through 4 a.m. Monday morning, Brown, Green, Pink and Orange Line trains operating on the Loop L structure will be rerouted to the Wells and Van Buren sections of the track.

On the Blue Line, rail service between the Jefferson Park and Harlem stations will be suspended from 9 p.m. Friday through 3 a.m. Monday to replace deteriorated rail ties, tie plates and spikes. Bus shuttles will substitute for rail service.

Due to station renovation work, southbound Red Line trains won't stop at the Berwyn station from 11 p.m. Friday, November 7 until 4 a.m. the following morning. Northbound service is not affected.

As always, riders should allow extra time.


The Chicago Avenue bridge over the North Branch of the Chicago River
will reopen to traffic before 4 p.m. today, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation.


CDOT crews have completed repairs to
the bridge, which was struck by a passing barge Tuesday, October 29. A
barge pushed by a commercial tugboat struck the underside of the bridge
structure, damaging some of the steel.

The City said it will seek reimbursement from the tugboat/barge operator for
the repairs.

How was the CTA and Metra last night, after the big rally? Did everyone get home OK, or were there delays? And if there were delays, did it matter, if people were happy with the election results?

I rode my bike home last night, around 7 p.m. I passed a group of five young people at Division and Milwaukee, hunched over a portable device checking the headlines. "He's getting it," said the kid who was holding the PDA. "It's Obama, Obama, Obama." The word "Obama" floated up from every conversation I overheard, cycling past.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from November 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

October 2008 is the previous archive.

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