Chicago Sun-Times

September 2009 Archives

West Loop shoppers and residents could see a new CTA station on the Green and Pink Line at Lake and Morgan as early as late 2011.

The new station is a city, not a CTA, project. It would fill a 1.5 mile gap on the line between Clinton and Ashland, and serve the growing West Loop community, according to Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman Brian Steele.

One big reason the city chose to go ahead with the $35 million to $40 million project is that it found funding for it. To pay for the station, the city was able to tap $8 million in federal air quality funds, and cover the rest with tax-increment finance revenues, which are frequently used for infrastructure improvement.

"For several years now, the city has been looking at an infill station between Ashland and Clinton," Steele said.

Bids for the project opened on Monday. The city now has to go through the process of selecting the winning bidder, Steele said. Construction could get started early next year.

The city often handles station projects in the downtown area -- it is paying to fix up the Red Line subway station at Grand and State. It has also looked at the idea of building a stop on the south leg of the Green Line between Roosevelt and 35th Street -- a notion the CTA has discussed for years. But there are no concrete plans for a station right now, Steele said.

In case you haven't heard, Chicago's trying to get the 2016 Olympics, and we find out if we get them Friday. There will be a live viewing at Daley Plaza, so Clark Street between Randolph and Washington will be closed to all traffic from 8 p.m. Thursday until 4 p.m. Friday. Two CTA bus routes will be detoured to adjacent streets.

Southbound #22 Clark and #24 Wentworth buses will travel over their regular routes along Clark to Randolph then will operate via Randolph, LaSalle, Monroe to Clark and then resume their regular routes. Northbound #22 and #24 buses are not affected and will travel over their regular routes.

If necessary, Chicago police could also close Dearborn between Washington and Randolph, and Washington between Clark and Dearborn. If that happens, the northbound #22 Clark, #36 Broadway and #62 Archer buses will travel over their regular routes along Dearborn to Monroe then will operate via Monroe, State, Wacker to Dearborn and then resume their regular routes. Southbound #36 and #62 buses will travel over their regular routes.

Northbound #24 Wentworth buses will operate over the regular route along Dearborn to Monroe then will travel via Monroe, State to Wacker and then resume the regular route west of Dearborn.

Eastbound #20 Madison, #X20 Washington/Madison Express, #60 Blue Island/26th and #157 Streeterville/Taylor buses will travel over their regular routes along Washington to LaSalle then will operate via LaSalle, Monroe, State to Washington and then resume their regular routes. Westbound #20, #X20, #60 and #157 buses are not affected and will travel over their regular routes.

Southbound #56 Milwaukee buses will operate over the regular route along Washington to LaSalle then will travel via LaSalle, Monroe, State to Washington and then resume the regular route. Northbound #56 buses are not affected and will travel over the regular route.

The CTA is asking customers to allow extra travel time.

Rail service between the Blue Line's Clark/Lake and UIC-Halsted stations will be temporarily suspended from 10 p.m. Friday until 4 a.m. Monday for track work.
Bus shuttles will operate as a substitute for rail service. Riders should allow extra time.

This should be over before it gets really cold. The Blue Line project is expected to end by the end of the year.

Ride Trivia Quiz Answer

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Today's trivia quiz question was: Chicago's first railroad was supposed to connect the city to this industry, but never did. What was the industry?

Claude Walker gets the prize for knowing that the train was supposed to connect Chicago to lead mining. The line was supposed to go to Galena, Illinois, but never got there. If Claude can send me his address and shirt size, I can send him his prize.

Blue Line Weekend Blip

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Once again, this weekend, the Blue Line subway will be out from Clark/Lake until UIC/Halsted for track work. This portion of the Blue Line will be closed from 10 p.m. Friday to 4 a.m. Monday. Bus shuttles will substitute for rail service, so be prepared to leave more time to travel.

This article notes how sedans are no longer big enough to haul around the "bevy of sports gear, pets, and offspring that now make up many American families."

I would disagree that American family's "gear" is bigger, and that's why they went to SUVs. Families are actually smaller than they were in the '60s or '70. I suspect families left sedans because of the enormous size of car seats, and the need to have a car seat or booster seat even for six-year-olds.

Back when I was a kid, in the old days of striped polyester tops, a sedan easily held four or five kids across the bench-like backseat. Everyone pile into Mrs. Willer's car and we can go to the pool!

These days, every kid needs a safety seat, and these big padded pods take up a lot of room. If you have more than two kids, or if you ever want to transport someone else's kid along with your own, you're forced into either having an SUV or a crossover, or else breaking the law by not having everyone in a required safety seat. This makes things tough for parents who want to be green or even economical. Is there anyway to make car seats safe but more space-efficient?

I have three kids -- two teenagers and a toddler who needs a car seat. After a lifetime of having small, fuel-efficient cars, I switched to a Subaru Forester, which is a small SUV. I never thought I'd go in this direction, but there it is. Anyone else had to face this problem?

Blue Line Cut Goes South

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The Blue Line subway weekend interruptions have moved south.

The final phase of the Dearborn Subway project begins this weekend. Rail service between the Blue Line's Clark/Lake and UIC-Halsted stations will be temporarily suspended from 10 p.m. Friday, September 11 until 4 a.m. Monday, September 14, as work continues to replace track.

Bus shuttles will operate as a substitute for rail service making stops adjacent to the Clark/Lake, Washington, Monroe, Jackson, LaSalle, Clinton and UIC-Halsted stations. Southbound buses will travel along Clark and Van Buren and northbound buses will operate via Harrison and Dearborn.

Allow extra time. If you're coming to the Loop from the north side and you can do the walk, you may be better off walking from the Clark/Lake station.

Repairs have been finished on the north side of the subway line.

Today's question was : Brennan Avenue on the south side is named for an obscure man who made an amazing contribution to Chicago. Who is he, and what did he do?

Scott Batzel knew Brennan Ave. was named for Edward Brennan, who invented Chicago's street grid numbering system. A building inspector from the near West Side, Brennan's idea started as a letter to the editor. The street numbering system designates State and Madison as "O" and has street numbers going east, west, south and north from there, making Chicago possibly the world's easiest city to navigate. He also renamed many city streets. The system got started 100 years ago, in September of 1909.

If Scott can send me his address and shirt size, I can send him his prize.

Last week, I had a story about how Bensenville is taking a different tack in its fight with Chicago over the airport expansion. The new mayor is trying to negotiate with the city, rather than continue fighting demolition of 600 homes and businesses which have already been sold to the city. See the story here.

Included with the story were photographs of the "acquisition area," where the homes are boarded up and grass is waist-high. It's an eerie scene. Our photographer, Richard Chapman, did a gallery of photos online.

The story intrigued reader Greg Kolack, a photographer who wanted to check out the area himself. But while he was there, he ran into a hassle. Here's part of his e-mail:

"In the middle of one of the streets about 3 blocks away from Irving, was a grey van with a city of Chicago placard in its windshield. Inside was a man pretty much doing nothing - just sitting there eating an apple. This was about 4:00 pm. I passed him and doubled back since it was a dead end street, so I passed him a second time. When I was about a 1/2 block ahead of him, he started driving.

"As I turned a corner about 2 blocks later and got out to take some photos, he pulled up next to me. He said 'Which house are you going to buy?' I asked him what he meant. He said all these houses were going to be auctioned. I just laughed and he said 'I'm not kidding.' Then he asked why I was shooting photos and if it was for a paper. I said it was just for my own purposes. He made some more small talk, but he clearly was trying to scare / pressure me to leave. When I was done and got in my car he said 'Make sure you send me the paper that these photos are printed in.' He then followed me for another couple of blocks.

"I called the Village of Bensenville and they said Chicago only owns the property the houses are on, and the streets and sidewalks are still owned by Bensenville. They said I had every right to be there, and seemed unconcerned that this guy was trying to pressure me to leave.

"This made me wonder - all the houses there have clear No Trespassing signs on them stating that the houses have been purchased for the O'Hare Expansion project. Since Bensenville still owns the streets but the city owns the houses, who is responsible for enforcing the laws against trespassing on the land - Chicago or Bensenville? If Bensenville, is Chicago paying them to enforce laws on land that Chicago owns?"

After getting Greg's letter, I asked Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino -- what's with the guy in the van? And she said, yes, the city does have a property manager and security patrolling the area. While the city doesn't have police powers in Bensenville, they will ask someone to leave if they've been hanging around too long, and they will call police if someone is doing something illegal.

"Our concern is that people will break into those facilities and do types of activities we wouldn't want them to do," Andolino said. There has been reason to worry -- there was an arson fire in one of the houses. "We don't want people just hanging out there."
She said the same policy is followed at the airport -- officials don't want people loitering. They could be pretending to be a photographer, but really intending to steal, she said.

I asked if someone could just go in, take a few shots, and leave promptly when asked. She said yes, they're public streets, but emphasized again that they don't want people just hanging around, so they will hustle you out.

So, the message here is if you want to take a picture of the demolition area while it's still in its science-fictiony, after-the-apocalypse state, you can. But leave fast so you don't get hassled.

A cheer for the CTA

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I just returned from visiting relatives in the Toronto area. I usually expect the cities of other countries to have superior transit to the United States -- because that's the cranky way I think. And Toronto's transit system is decent -- it has nice clean street cars, buses and subway stations.

BUT -- you have to take the bus to Pearson International Airport. See this site. If you can't spare the time for the bus, you have to cab it, and depending on where you're coming from, a cab ride can be fearsomely expensive. According to "About.com: Canada Travel," getting to downtown Toronto from Pearson by public transportation takes 1.5 to 2 hours. A cab ride costs $40 to $50, plus tip. To get to Toronto's little downtown airport, on an island, you have to take a ferry.

This made me stop and appreciate what we have here -- we can take the L to BOTH airports. Which is very convenient and very cool. The line to O'Hare opened in 1984, the line to Midway in 1993. So take a moment to be grateful, Chicagoans. Then you can go back to your regularly scheduled complaining.

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This page is an archive of entries from September 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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