WBEZ | Transportation http://www.wbez.org/news/transportation Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en White House explores ways to do business with Cuba http://www.wbez.org/news/white-house-explores-ways-do-business-cuba-112755 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/gettyimages-483711172_wide-dab18d4d4e6ce1cfa38f290f818727773a1fa941-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>The Obama administration is considering ways to further ease travel and restrictions on Cuba. There is still an embargo in place and it would take an act of Congress to lift that.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The president, however, does have ways to make it easier for Americans to go to Havana or to sell goods there. A lot has changed already since the White House announced its new approach last year.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Washington, D.C. lawyer Robert Muse managed to get a U.S. government license to start ferry services to Cuba. He describes the process this way:</div><div>&quot;As Ernest Hemingway wrote about going bankrupt, it happened both slowly and then suddenly. I had applied for the license several years ago and it just sat there in a kind of policy void.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Once President Obama announced an opening with Cuba late last year, everything changed. &quot;Out of the blue,&quot; Muse says, &quot;suddenly the license was granted.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>That doesn&#39;t mean this is a done deal. Cuba still has to agree to allow ferries to bring people and goods from Miami. But at least on the U.S. side, he says, it is getting easier to get licenses, especially for sales to Cuba&#39;s small, but emerging private sector.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;That could be anything from a pizza oven to restaurant lighting to napkins and chairs. Anything you could think of. So the authority exists,&quot; Muse says.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He&#39;d like to see the Obama administration go further to boost trade. So would Sarah Stephens of the Center for Democracy in the Americas, who has taken U.S. lawmakers and others to Cuba for many years.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;One thing that we are seeing is that many of these companies, U.S. companies that are going down to learn what they can about the market and Cuban priorities are coming back and applying for licenses and getting them,&quot; Stephens says.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>She&#39;s asked the Treasury Department to change the regulations for travel too to make it easier for individuals to go &mdash; as long as they are on educational, cultural, religious or family visits, as required by U.S. law.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;If individuals are going to Cuba, the money they are spending is going directly into the hands of individual Cubans and that&#39;s really the goal,&quot; Stephens says.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Not so says Frank Calzon of the Center for a Free Cuba.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The folks who travel to Cuba today are subsidizing the Cuban military and the security forces because the Cuban travel industry is completely controlled by the Cuban military. That&#39;s a fact,&quot; he says.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Despite warmer relations with the U.S., he says Cuban authorities still routinely round up and beat up dissidents. He argues that having more Americans going to Cuba or doing business there won&#39;t improve things for average Cubans.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The contrary happens,&quot; Calzon says. American corporations that are in Cuba become lobbyists of the Cuban dictatorship because they are afraid of what the Cuban government can do to their investment.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Calzon argues that President Obama has already gone too far to undermine an embargo that was put in place by Congress.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But Muse, the D.C. lawyer, says the president can still carve out exceptions, and should before he leaves office.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The president can leave the U.S. embargo on Cuba like a piece of cheese that&#39;s far more holes than cheese,&quot; he adds.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The White House will only say that it &quot;continues to explore regulatory changes to provide new opportunities for American citizens and U.S. businesses.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/08/28/435416074/white-house-explores-ways-to-do-business-with-cuba?ft=nprml&amp;f=435416074" target="_blank"><em>Parallels</em></a></div></p> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 10:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/white-house-explores-ways-do-business-cuba-112755 Chicago's Midway Airport set for $248 million makeover http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-midway-airport-set-248-million-makeover-112585 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/5458285661_c9558e2d1f_b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-36dcd6e4-055c-8cbb-25eb-88755267cb80">Chicago&rsquo;s Midway International Airport is getting a $248 million makeover.</p><p dir="ltr">The city&rsquo;s aviation officials and Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Thursday that the Southwest Side airport will get expanded concession facilities, 1,400 more parking spots and a much larger security checkpoint area.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Efficiency&rdquo; is the goal of this project, according to the city&rsquo;s new Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans; and that will apply to everything from trying to create shorter security lines to adding more quality and quicker food options. Officials say the redevelopment project will be paid for with federal funds and by the airlines, which includes airport revenue bonds and what&rsquo;s known as a <a href="http://www.faa.gov/airports/pfc/">Passenger Facility Charge</a>,&nbsp;or PFC, that comes from airline ticket purchases.</p><p dir="ltr">Anyone who has arrived at Midway a little too close to their departure time knows that the security checkpoint area is frequently packed and bottlenecked, with lines snaking back as far back as the escalators to the ticket counters. Aviation officials said the plan is to widen that bridge from 60 feet to 300 feet, which will provide room for up to 27 security lanes and new concessions space.</p><p dir="ltr">As for which restaurants and shops will land at Midway, Evans said the bid process hasn&rsquo;t started yet. She said her team is looking for broader retail shops, more &ldquo;quality&rdquo; food options, menus that change more quickly and, possibly, places that will deliver food to travelers while they sit at their gates. They&rsquo;re also expecting larger seating areas with more comfortable chairs and more places to charge smartphones.</p><p dir="ltr">Emanuel said right now, Midway customers spend $3-4 less on concessions than customers in comparable airports.</p><p dir="ltr">The terminal parking garage expansion is already in the design phase and, as of now, officials say the city will add four levels and 1,400 premium parking spaces so travelers can get in and out of the airport more quickly.</p><p dir="ltr">Alderman Mike Zalewski, head of the City Council Aviation Committee, said this could be a big help for passengers who find themselves having to park in the off-site lots around the airport, because the daily spots near the airport are often full. Zalewski said the new parking structure will also connect to the Chicago Transit Authority&rsquo;s Orange Line.</p><p dir="ltr">The mayor&rsquo;s office said the project will create 1,000 construction jobs and around 700 permanent concession jobs. The entire project is expected to be completed by 2020.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ politics reporter. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda"> </a><a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 06 Aug 2015 18:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-midway-airport-set-248-million-makeover-112585 EcoMyths: You Don't Need a Car to see Nature http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-you-dont-need-car-see-nature-112595 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/EcoMyths-Car to Nature.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-099f-5473-bdc3-171ceaca3dfa">Even though at times, cities and nature seem to be at odds, EcoMyths Alliance believes the two are not as disconnected as they may seem. For our EcoMyths segment, Kate Sackman will tell us why city-dwellers, with an itch to experience the wilderness, can do so without using a car. Joining her are John Cawood, education program coordinator for Openlands and Gil Penalosa, founder and board chair of 8 80 Cities.</span></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/216769748&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong>Myth: You Have to Drive to Nature</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Do You Need Four Wheels and a Steering Wheel to Get to Nature?</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">City is often pitted against nature: Concrete jungle vs. forest or prairie. Civilization vs. wilderness. Shops and museums vs. dirt and, well, more dirt. But are cities as disconnected from nature as they seem? Must city-dwellers with an itch to experience wilderness rely on four-wheeled motorized vehicles to reach it?</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Though many of our urban areas were built to accommodate car culture (ahem, Los Angeles), open, natural space really can be just a walk, bike, or bus ride away in cities from Chicago to Bogotá.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">To help chart the sometimes surprising points of access, we chatted with</span><a href="http://880cities.org/index.php/services/gil-s-keynote"> Gil Penalosa</a>, PhD, of Toronto-based<a href="http://880cities.org/index.php"> 8 80 Cities</a>, an organization dedicated to creating more accessible, walkable cities that are planned around people rather than cars, and<a href="http://www.openlands.org/john-cawood?page_id=32"> John Cawood</a>, M.S., of<a href="http://www.openlands.org/who-we-are"> Openlands</a>, a Chicago-based nonprofit that unites people and nature.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Reality Check: You Don&#39;t Have to Go to the Grand Canyon to See Nature</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Let&#39;s be clear: even in cities, nature is generally not that far to begin with.</span><a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/2013/05/kids-access-to-nature/"> You really can find evidence of it all around</a>, from the shady tree across the street and migratory bird swooping overhead, to the rich biodiversity that exists along the banks of many urban creeks. But what about those times when you want to get someplace more open and expansive than your own front sidewalk?</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Thanks to thoughtful city planning and conservation efforts working to preserve and link open space, large swaths of nature often abound in and around cities. Often, it&#39;s just a matter of learning where they are&mdash;and how to take advantage of existing biking and walking trails as well as public transit to get to them.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">So, where are these urban gifts of Mama Earth? &quot;Nature isn&rsquo;t always obvious in urban areas,&quot; says Cawood. &quot;But wherever you live, there are public lands that have been set aside specifically as places for people to engage in nature &ndash; forest preserves and city parks most notably, but many community gardens and school gardens are also open to the public.&quot;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">For expansive natural landscape, he sees Chicago as a great example of a gateway. A bevvy of trails from the Chicago park system and the virtually uninterrupted 18.5 mile Lakefront Trail to the Grand Illinois trail provide picturesque space for walking, biking, sailing, investigating bugs, unicycling, what have you.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">In fact, he adds, one of the top birding locations in the country is just a brief walk away from one of the busiest intersections in the city&#39;s Uptown neighborhood. &quot;It&rsquo;s known as &#39;The Magic Hedge,&#39; a natural area at Montrose point, which happens to be a favorite stop for migrating birds along the flyway from Canada to South America&mdash;more than 320 species have been identified there!&quot;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Examples like these bode well for city-dwellers, because boatloads of evidence indicates that</span><a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/2011/12/ecomyth-getting-outside-is-fun-but-not-fundamental/"> nature is good for you</a>. So, how can we get to these local and regional treasures? Let us count the ways, via bike, foot, or transit&mdash;in Chicago and beyond.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Bike or Walk It, Baby!</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Creating more access to nature via biking or walking is a vital part of 8 80&#39;s vision, which sees nature as essential to the wellbeing of 8-year-olds </span>and 80-year-olds alike&mdash;aka the &quot;indicator species&quot; of a community&#39;s health.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">It all starts with making it easier for people to bike or walk safely around their neighborhoods. For example, with Penalosa&#39;s help,</span><a href="http://880cities.org/images/resource/walking-cycling-arti/learning-from-bogota.pdf"> Bogotá</a> now closes over 75 miles of roads to cars every single Sunday, allowing 1.5 million people to ride their bikes throughout the city. There are also 185 miles of fully sheltered bikeways throughout the Colombian capital.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&quot;The idea is to rethink the streets as public spaces,&quot; he says, &quot;The streets can have different uses according to the time of the day, the day of the week, of the year.&quot; From New York to San Francisco, from Paris to Toronto, cities are taking up this rallying cry in innovative new ways, closing roads, reducing speed limits, or limiting traffic to downtown.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Copenhagen is another excellent example of a bike-friendly city, Penalosa observes. Sure, it&#39;s cold in the winter, hot in the summer, and it rains all the time. &quot;Nevertheless, 41 out of 100 trips are done on bikes. Here in the U.S., cities like Portland are also working toward becoming more walkable and bikeable.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Do all these bike-friendly initiatives actually get you closer to expansive nature? Why, yes, they often do. A quick survey of</span><a href="https://www.google.com/maps"> Google Maps</a> shows many cities&#39; bike maps are up to date, and you can use it to zoom out to see green areas you&#39;d like to get to using bike routes.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Plus, valuable local resources exist on a city-by-city basis. For example, the Chicago Department of Transportation updates the city&#39;s</span><a href="http://www.chicagobikes.org/pdf/chicagomap_en_combined.pdf"> bike map</a> annually, and inexpensive<a href="https://www.divvybikes.com/stations"> bike rental stations</a> are now ubiquitous throughout the city, with user-friendly bike maps and tips available via app.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Transit to Trails: Next Stop, Nature!</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Public transportation doesn&#39;t just connect you from neighborhood to work to nightlife. In many cities, complex networks of buses and trains connect to rich nature areas in sometimes surprising ways.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Let&#39;s take a look at Chicago, with Cawood&#39;s help. Here, public transit provides access to dozens of natural areas outside the city limits. Consider: &quot;At the Millennium Station, you can jump on the South Shore train for a day trip to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. At Ogilvie, take the Union Pacific North train to the Fort Sheridan stop, from which the</span><a href="http://www.openlands.org/openlands-lakeshore-preserve"> Openlands Lakeshore Preserve</a>, a certified Illinois Natural area, is a 10-minute walk.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Wanna skip town in a bigger way? &quot;For an ambitious nature-based vacation, reserve a seat on Amtrak&rsquo;s Empire Builder train, which stops in</span><a href="https://www.google.com/maps"> Glacier National Park</a>. The Amtrak system also connects Chicago with other major transit hubs that happen to be gateways to nature as well &ndash; cities like Denver, Seattle, St. Louis, St. Paul, Flagstaff, Portland, and San Francisco. No automobile necessary!&quot;</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Cawood&#39;s a big fan of training it to nature. &quot;On a train you can multi-task. You are shuttled from point A to point B while you sleep, work, read, watch a movie, or have a nice conversation with someone. It&rsquo;s even legal to text while you are on the train!&quot;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">California&#39;s Bay Area, is another interesting example of how public transit can connect some of the most building-bound folks out there to beautiful wilderness areas inside and just outside the city. Case in point: there&#39;s a municipal bus stop at the entrance to the expansive 2,500-acre Wildcat Canyon (pictured left-TK). Yep, just a 30-minute bus ride outta Oakland turns up an epic hike, complete with sweeping views of the bay and cities below.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">How to find said access points? In California,</span><a href="http://www.transitandtrails.org/"> Transit and Trails</a> provides detailed maps and schedules for public transportation options to outdoor recreation areas across the country. In Illinois,<a href="http://animaliaproject.org/t2t/"> Transit to Trails</a> is a project underway to make it easier to figure out which train and bus systems connect to which natural areas.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Cool Reclaimed Spaces Connect Us to Nature, too</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Making room for bikes on trains and existing roads is important&mdash;but it&#39;s not all that&#39;s happening in the way of connecting people to nature. Cities and orgs are working to convert areas of otherwise wasted space into cool places for the community to stretch their legs and their perspectives&mdash;a notion that 8 80 dubs Hidden Assets.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">The</span><a href="http://www.thehighline.org/"> High Line</a> is a high-profile example [KATE: DO you have pics from your visit there?]. In Manhattan, this 1.45-mile stretch of abandoned elevated train tracks was converted into an aerial park, covered with colorful and sustainable<a href="http://www.thehighline.org/High_Line_Plant_List.pdf"> plants</a> and proving a hugely popular walking path.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Reclaiming these unused train tracks is what the</span><a href="http://www.railstotrails.org/"> Rails-to-Trails Conservancy</a> program is all about, with a vision that calls for creating trails within three miles of every home in the U.S. By transforming unused rail lines into vibrant public places, the goal is to connect its current roster of 30,000 miles of rail-trails and multi-use trails to a nationwide network.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Close! But There&#39;s Still Work to Do</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">While many cities are making great progress on the march to becoming more livable communities, there are still places where it can be tougher to get someplace beautiful. For example, in LA, only a third of school kids have a park within walking distance (a quarter mile), according to the</span><a href="http://880cities.org/images/resource/park-space-arti/trust-no-place-to-play.pdf"> Trust for</a> Public Lands. That&#39;s especially dismal when you compare to other big cities, like Boston, which reaches 97 percent of the city&rsquo;s children, and NYC&#39;s 91 percent.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&quot;We need to have nature everywhere in cities&mdash;within walking or biking distance, but also right outside your front door, in schoolyards, in city halls,&quot; says Penalosa. &quot;And when you want to go further, you should be able to use public transit.&quot;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&quot;It&#39;s about changing habits around the built environment. How do we want to build our cities? The human population is growing quickly. According to the U.S. Census, the nation&#39;s population will grow by 100 million people in the next 35 years. That means the U.S. needs to build around 40 million homes. How are they being built? Is everyone having all their basic needs within a 10-minute walking distance or do they have to drive everywhere just because they want to buy eggs or milk? Not only do we have to improve the communities we have today, but we also need to create great communities for these millions of new people who are going to be in the same space in the next 40 years.&quot;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">In other words, while cities like Chicago and Bogota are doing a great job, and ambitious nonprofit organizations are working tirelessly to connect the dots, there is yet work to be done.</span></p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Why Bother?</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">The pros of improving access to nature are extensive. As we rely less on cars and more on feet and bike wheels, we&#39;ll all be healthier. We&#39;ll experience less noise and stress. Air quality will improve.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">And, as Cawood points out, as more people experience nature, more people decide it&#39;s worth their while to make eco-friendlier choices, too, whether by supporting conservation work or opting for earth-friendly products at the store.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&quot;Environmentally, by biking or taking public transit, you are impacting social norms,&quot; Cawood explains. &quot;If you do it, your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors might be more likely to try it out. If it catches on, you&rsquo;re taking cars off the road, which conserves fossil fuels and essentially cleans the air.&quot;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Plus, money. Penalosa says there&#39;s a potentially staggering impact on personal income for those who decide to go full throttle with car-free living. Americans today who use cars spend one out of four dollars on mobility, he comments, when we could be spending less than 4 percent if we walk, bike and take public transit instead. With AAA stats reporting average expenses for having a car tally up to about $8,500 every year, that&#39;s kinda like winning the Lottery, when you think about it&hellip;but with way better odds.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Pretty decent perks, when you consider all you wanted was to stretch your legs and get a nice view of nature, huh?</span></p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Myth Outcome: Myth partially busted</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">In many cities, you don&#39;t need a car to get to nature&mdash;you just need your feet, a bike, or ticket to ride public transit</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Still, there are many ways we could improve access and provide better connecting points to places both within city limits and further afoot.</span></p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">One Green Thing</span>:</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">Ride your bike to a pretty nature spot this weekend. (Hint: Try using Google Maps or</span><a href="http://www.traillink.com/"> Trail Link</a> to identify the route.)</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">But wait, there&#39;s more, says Penalosa! &quot;Some people may say, &#39;oh I don&#39;t care about environment or health&hellip;What&#39;s in it for me?&#39;&quot; A potentially staggering impact on personal income, for one thing. Americans today who use cars spend one out of four dollars on mobility, he comments, when we could be spending less than 4 percent if we instead walk, bike and take public transit.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">What would we do with all that cash if we weren&#39;t spending it </span>every single year on transportation? His suggestions: We could spend it on education, or special experiences with our family&mdash;and that can in turn help boost the local economy, as we spend money on things like going out to eat or improving our gardens instead of on cars built in some far-off locale.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">RESOURCES</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&middot;</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://http://www.railstotrails.org/">Rails to Trails Conservancy</a></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&middot;</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.traillink.com/">&nbsp;http://www.traillink.com/</a></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&middot;</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.thenatureofcities.com/2014/10/05/do-urban-green-corridors-work-it-depends-on-what-we-want-them-to-do-what-ecological-andor-social-functions-can-we-realistically-expect-green-corridors-to-perform-in-cities-what-attributes-defi/">&nbsp;http://www.thenatureofcities.com/2014/10/05/do-urban-green-corridors-work-it-depends-on-what-we-want-them-to-do-what-ecological-andor-social-functions-can-we-realistically-expect-green-corridors-to-perform-in-cities-what-attributes-defi/</a></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&middot;</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://activetrans.org/sites/files/Active_Trans_Chicago_Bike_Monitoring_Report_2014.pdf">&nbsp;http://activetrans.org/sites/files/Active_Trans_Chicago_Bike_Monitoring_Report_2014.pdf</a></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&middot;</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="https://www.divvybikes.com/">&nbsp;https://www.divvybikes.com/</a></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&middot;</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.openlands.org/eco-explorations">Eco-Explorations</a> program and the new<a href="http://www.openlands.org/birds-in-my-neighborhood"> Birds in my Neighborhood</a></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&middot;</span> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://chicagowilderness.org/CW_Archives/issues/summer2007/transit.html">&nbsp;http://chicagowilderness.org/CW_Archives/issues/summer2007/transit.html</a></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e74e513-09a4-88ca-9a92-47f10afa1468">&middot;</span>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;2006<a href="http://880cities.org/images/resource/park-space-arti/trust-health-benefits-parks.pdf"> report</a> by the Trust for Public Land</p></p> Tue, 28 Jul 2015 10:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-you-dont-need-car-see-nature-112595 Chicago pumping $30 million into improving Purple Line express http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-pumping-30-million-improving-purple-line-express-112356 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 5.05.13 PM.png" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">The Chicago Transit Authority is promising a faster, more reliable purple line express by November of this year.</p><p dir="ltr">CTA officials and Mayor Rahm Emanuel dropped by the Howard station Thursday to announce a $30 million renovation of the Purple Line tracks between the Lawrence and Jarvis stops in Chicago. This is on top of work that was already done in 2013 to renovate tracks and eliminate slow zones on the same line.</p><p dir="ltr">Dorval Carter Jr., recently named president of the CTA, said this would be the biggest investment in the train line that runs from downtown Chicago to the near northern suburbs in the last 40 years.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;By replacing track ties, running rail and other improvements on this century old structure, riders will get a commute that has far fewer slow zones and that is smoother and more comfortable,&rdquo; Carter said.</p><p dir="ltr">CTA officials say around 13,000 passengers ride the Purple Line express each week, which totals up to about 3.5 million riders each year. Carter said normal Purple Line express traffic shouldn&rsquo;t be affected by the construction, as work will take place solely on weeknights and weekends. The work is also supposed to be out of the way of normal Red Line service, though there may be occasional reroutes.</p><p dir="ltr">Construction is set to begin on July 20.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s city politics reporter. Follow her&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 09 Jul 2015 16:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-pumping-30-million-improving-purple-line-express-112356 Battle over new oil train standards pits safety against cost http://www.wbez.org/news/battle-over-new-oil-train-standards-pits-safety-against-cost-112224 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/oil-train-ap_custom-0650f8c189b33da022b256e602227302594e89d9-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The federal government&#39;s new rules aimed at preventing explosive oil train derailments are sparking a backlash from all sides.</p><p>The railroads, oil producers and shippers say some of the new safety requirements are unproven and too costly, yet some safety advocates and environmental groups say the regulations aren&#39;t strict enough and still leave too many people at risk.</p><p>Since February, five trains carrying North Dakota Bakken crude oil have derailed and exploded into flames in the U.S. and Canada. No one was hurt in the incidents in Mount Carbon, W.Va., and Northern Ontario in February; in Galena, Ill., and Northern Ontario in March; and in Heimdal, N.D., in May.</p><p>But each of those fiery train wrecks occurred in lightly populated areas. Scores of oil trains also travel through dense cities, particularly Chicago, the nation&#39;s railroad hub.</p><p>According to state records and published reports, about 40 or more trains carrying Bakken crude roll through the city each week on just the BNSF Railway&#39;s tracks alone. Those trains pass right by apartment buildings, homes, businesses and schools.</p><p>&quot;Well just imagine the carnage,&quot; said Christina Martinez. She was standing alongside the BNSF tracks in Chicago&#39;s Pilsen neighborhood as a long train of black tank cars slowly rolled by, right across the street from St. Procopius, the Catholic elementary school her 6-year-old attends.</p><p>&quot;Just the other day they were playing soccer at my son&#39;s school on Saturday and I saw the train go by and it had the &#39;1267&#39;, the red marking,&quot; Martinez said, referring to the red, diamond-shaped placards on railroad tank cars that indicate their contents. The number 1267 signifies crude oil. &quot;And I was like, &#39;Oh my God.&#39; Can you imagine if it would derail and explode right here while these kids are playing soccer and all the people around there?&quot;</p><p>New federal rules require stronger tank cars, with thicker shells and higher front and back safety shields for shipping crude oil and other flammable liquids. Older, weaker models that more easily rupture will have to be retrofitted or replaced within three to five years. But Martinez and others wanted rules limiting the volatility of what&#39;s going into those tank cars, too.</p><p>Oil from North Dakota has a highly combustible mix of natural gases including butane, methane and propane. The state requires the conditioning of the gas and oil at the wellhead so the vapor pressure is below 13.7 pounds per square inch before it&#39;s shipped. But even at that level, oil from derailed tank cars has exploded into flames.</p><p>And many safety advocates had hoped federal regulators would require conditioning to lower the vapor pressure even more.</p><p>&quot;We don&#39;t want these bomb trains going through our neighborhood,&quot; said Lora Chamberlain of the group Chicagoland Oil by Rail. &quot;De-gasify the stuff. And so we&#39;re really, really upset at the feds, the Department of Transportation, for not addressing this in these new rules.&quot;</p><p>Others criticize the rules for giving shippers three to five years to either strengthen or replace the weakest tank cars.</p><p>&quot;The rules won&#39;t take effect for many years,&quot; said Paul Berland, who lives near busy railroad tracks in suburban Elgin. &quot;They&#39;re still playing Russian roulette with our communities.&quot;</p><p>A coalition of environmental groups &mdash; including Earthjustice, ForestEthics and the Sierra Club &mdash; sued, alleging that loopholes could allow some dangerous tank cars to remain on the tracks for up to a decade.</p><p>&quot;I don&#39;t think our federal regulators did the job that they needed to do here; I think they wimped out, as it were,&quot; said Tom Weisner, mayor of Aurora, Ill., a city of 200,000 about 40 miles west of Chicago that has seen a dramatic increase in oil trains rumbling through it.</p><p>Weisner is upset that the new rules provide exemptions to trains with fewer than 20 contiguous tank cars of a flammable liquid, such as oil, and for trains with fewer than 35 such tank cars in total.</p><p>&quot;They&#39;ve left a hole in the regulations that you could drive a freight train through,&quot; Weisner said.</p><p>At the same time, an oil industry group is challenging the new regulations in court, too, arguing that manufacturers won&#39;t be able to build and retrofit tank cars fast enough to meet the requirements.</p><p>The railroad industry is also taking action against the new crude-by-rail rules, filing an appeal of the new rules with the Department of Transportation.</p><p>In a statement, Association of American Railroads spokesman Ed Greenberg said: &quot;It is the AAR&#39;s position the rule, while a good start, does not sufficiently advance safety and fails to fully address ongoing concerns of the freight rail industry and the general public. The AAR is urging the DOT to close the gap in the rule that allows shippers to continue using tank cars not meeting new design specifications, to remove the ECP brake requirement, and to enhance thermal protection by requiring a thermal blanket as part of new tank car safety design standards.&quot;</p><p>AAR&#39;s President Ed Hamberger discussed the problems the railroads have with the new rules in an interview with NPR prior to filing the appeal. &quot;The one that we have real problems with is requiring something called ECP brakes &mdash; electronically controlled pneumatic brakes,&quot; he said, adding the new braking system that the federal government is mandating is unproven.</p><p>&quot;[DOT does] not claim that ECP brakes would prevent one accident,&quot; Hamberger said. &quot;Their entire safety case is based on the fact that ECP brakes are applied a little bit more quickly than the current system.&quot;</p><p>Acting Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah Feinberg disagreed. &quot;It&#39;s not unproven at all,&quot; she said, noting that the railroads say ECP brakes could cost nearly $10,000 per tank car.</p><p>&quot;I do understand that the railroad industry views it as costly,&quot; Feinberg adds. &quot;I don&#39;t think it&#39;s particularly costly, especially when you compare it to the cost of a really significant incident with a train carrying this product.&quot;</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re talking about unit trains, 70 or more cars, that are transporting an incredibly volatile and flammable substance through towns like Chicago, Philadelphia,&quot; Feinberg continues. &quot;I want those trains to have a really good braking system. I don&#39;t want to get into an argument with the rail industry that it&#39;s too expensive. I want people along rail lines to be protected.&quot;</p><p>Feinberg said her agency is still studying whether to regulate the volatility of crude, but some in Congress don&#39;t think this safety matter can wait.</p><p>&quot;The new DOT rule is just like saying let the oil trains roll,&quot; U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said in a statement. &quot;It does nothing to address explosive volatility, very little to address the threat of rail car punctures, and is too slow on the removal of the most dangerous cars.&quot;</p><p>Cantwell is sponsoring legislation to force oil producers to reduce the crude&#39;s volatility to make it less explosive, before shipping it on the nation&#39;s rails.</p></p> Fri, 19 Jun 2015 14:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/battle-over-new-oil-train-standards-pits-safety-against-cost-112224 FAA investigating close call at Chicago's Midway Airport http://www.wbez.org/news/faa-investigating-close-call-chicagos-midway-airport-112209 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/midwaytower.png" alt="" /><p><p>Two passenger jets began to take off at the same time on intersecting runways at Chicago&#39;s Midway International Airport, prompting a controller to shout over the radio for one of the pilots to halt to avoid a collision, aviation officials said Wednesday.</p><p>The Federal Aviation Administration was investigating Tuesday night&#39;s near miss in which each plane stopped about 2,000 feet from the runway intersection.</p><p>Southwest Airlines Flight 3828 to Tulsa, Oklahoma, had been cleared for takeoff and was speeding down the runway. At the same time, an air traffic controller saw Delta Air Lines Flight 1328 to Atlanta beginning to take off on the intersecting runway without proper clearance, the FAA said.</p><p>&quot;1328, stop, stop stop!&quot; the controller shouted, according to audio posted on the website LiveATC.net.</p><p>&quot;1328 stopping,&quot; the pilot answered in a clam voice, before the controller directed both planes to different taxiways.</p><p>The Southwest plane also safely aborted its takeoff, said airline spokesman Brian Parrish. The aircraft later continued on to Tulsa.</p><p>Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant said the airline was cooperating with the investigation but that he could not provide any information on what might have led to the runway mix-up.</p><p>In the air traffic audio, the controller tells the pilots that they keep answering for each other, suggesting confusion.</p><p>The Southwest pilot later asked whether his aircraft was the one cleared for takeoff.</p><p>&quot;Yes sir, you were,&quot; the controller responded. &quot;You were the one. You were doing what you were supposed to be doing.&quot;</p></p> Wed, 17 Jun 2015 17:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/faa-investigating-close-call-chicagos-midway-airport-112209 Judge rules federal approval of proposed Illiana tollway invalid http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-rules-federal-approval-proposed-illiana-tollway-invalid-112205 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP662690553254.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A U.S. District Court judge in Chicago has ruled the federal government&#39;s approval of the proposed Illiana Tollway linking northern Illinois and Indiana is invalid.</p><p>Judge Jorge Alonso ruled Tuesday the Federal Highway Administration&#39;s 2013 endorsement of the project was &quot;arbitrary and capricious&quot; and in violation of environmental law.</p><p>The ruling is the result of a lawsuit filed by Illinois environmental groups which contended federal approval relied on faulty information and didn&#39;t adequately consider environmental impacts. It claimed the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration and Illinois and Indiana officials relied on inflated population, job and traffic forecasts to justify the $1.5 billion, 47-mile highway.</p><p>Environmentalists also claimed reviewers failed to adequately consider potential harm to the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.</p><p>Illinois and Indiana have suspended work on the project pending a cost-benefit review.</p></p> Wed, 17 Jun 2015 08:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-rules-federal-approval-proposed-illiana-tollway-invalid-112205 Most commuter rails won't meet deadline for mandated safety systems http://www.wbez.org/news/most-commuter-rails-wont-meet-deadline-mandated-safety-systems-112140 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/metratrainAP.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Many investigators say Positive Train Control (PTC), an automated safety system, could have prevented last month&#39;s Amtrak train derailment. Amtrak officials have said they will have PTC installed throughout the northeast corridor by the end of this year, which is the deadline mandated by Congress.</p><p>But the vast majority of other commuter railroad systems, which provided nearly 500 million rides in 2014, won&#39;t be able to fully implement positive train control for several more years.</p><p>On the southern edge of downtown Chicago, a few dozen commuter trains idle as they prepare to take thousands of people from their jobs downtown to their homes in city neighborhoods, and suburbs both near and far. Just behind the tracks is a nondescript, two-story brick building that houses the control center for all these rail lines, and the brains of what will be Metra&#39;s positive train control system.</p><p>&quot;Out of this building, we control the Metra electric district, the Rock Island,&quot; Sal Cuevas, chief dispatcher of the control facility. &quot;Over 300, 350, maybe 400 trains out of this facility that we control.&quot;</p><p>That&#39;s about half of the commuter trains Metra moves into and out of Chicago each day. Cuevas is tracking their movement, their speed and any potential problems or delays they might encounter, from bad weather to maintenance crews. It&#39;s done in coordination with the 500 freight trains that move through Chicago every day.</p><p>Getting positive train control on line won&#39;t make his job any easier, but Cuevas says it will make the movement of all those trains safer.</p><p>&quot;Integrating that system with our current train control system will hopefully minimize incidents,&quot; he says.</p><p>But that won&#39;t be happening for some time.</p><p>Positive Train Control is a system that integrates computer, satellite and radio technologies to slow down or stop a train if the engineer becomes incapacitated or makes a mistake, such as missing a stop signal or going too fast around a curve.</p><p>Seven years ago, Congress mandated all freight and passenger railroads implement positive train control by the end of this year. But Metra&#39;s executive director Don Orseno says Chicago&#39;s commuter trains won&#39;t make the deadline, and it won&#39;t even be close.</p><p>&quot;Our expectation for Metra to be fully operational is in 2019,&quot; he says. &quot;There&#39;s a lot of reasons why its taking so long. Number one: it wasn&#39;t invented.&quot;</p><p>Orseno says railroads have had to develop PTC from scratch and it&#39;s a very complicated system. Information about track conditions, speed limits, the movement of other trains and all kinds of other data has to be downloaded into computers in the railroads&#39; control centers and in the locomotives.</p><p>Those computers have to be able to communicate with every track signal and every other train. So there&#39;s new signaling equipment to install, new radios, new computer hardware and new software to run it all, because these positive train control systems have to be fully inter-operable between all the railroads and all their equipment.</p><p>In Chicago, the nation&#39;s busiest rail hub, that&#39;s 1,300 and passenger trains a day.</p><p>&quot;We operate the most complex system in the country, there&#39;s no question about that,&quot; Orseno says.</p><p>He adds that in mandating positive train control and imposing the December 2015 deadline, Congress provided almost no funding for it.</p><p>&quot;The system comes at a very expensive cost,&quot; he says. &quot;We&#39;re looking anywhere from about $350 million for this system, and you&#39;re talking about commuter rail service. There&#39;s not that kind of money out there.&quot;</p><p>And it&#39;s not just Chicago&#39;s commuter rail agency that&#39;s struggling to build, fund and implement positive train control. Most commuter trains across the country won&#39;t have it by the end of this year.</p><p>&quot;About 29 percent of our systems anticipate they&#39;ll be able to make the goal this year, about seven systems in the country,&quot; says Michael Melaniphy, president and CEO of the American Public Transportation Association.</p><p>Melaniphy says some commuter rail agencies will need another three to five years to complete PTC installations because of the scale and complexity of the systems and the resources needed.</p><p>&quot;There are only so many people that are experts in this area,&quot; he says. &quot;They can only produce so many of the radio sets that are needed and the spectrum that&#39;s needed to run those radios in a given time.&quot;</p><p>Acquiring that radio spectrum for PTC has been especially difficult for commuter railroads.</p><p>&quot;Many of the operators will be able to obtain in some segments but maybe not along the entire corridor,&quot; Melaniphy says. &quot;They have to figure out who owns the spectrum in a given corridor and negotiate with them to either sell it or lease it.&quot;</p><p>Melaniphy is hoping Congress will allow the FCC to provide commuter railroads with the radio spectrum they need for free. He&#39;s also asking Congress to pay at least some of the estimated $3.5 billion cost of PTC, and extend the deadline to give commuter and freight railroads more time to implement a safety system they all agree they want and need to implement.</p><p>&mdash; <em>via <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/06/03/411464396/most-commuter-rails-wont-meet-deadline-for-mandated-safety-systems">NPR News</a></em></p></p> Thu, 04 Jun 2015 07:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/most-commuter-rails-wont-meet-deadline-mandated-safety-systems-112140 The unsung hero of urban planning who made it easy to get around Chicago http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/unsung-hero-urban-planning-who-made-it-easy-get-around-chicago-112061 <p><p><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">Editor&#39;s note: This was piece was produced in collaboration with the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.architecture.org/" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px;" target="_blank">Chicago Architecture Foundation,</a>&nbsp;which provided research, expertise and other assistance during its development.</em></p><p>Jessica Fisch and Paul Toben are engaged to be married this fall. But before the two new arrivals to Chicago start a new life in a new home, they want to solve a mystery with roots in the city&rsquo;s early history.</p><p>Toben and Fisch bought a house in the Edgewater neighborhood last year, and they&rsquo;ve been fixing it up since. But they discovered something odd about the address displayed on their siding.</p><p>&ldquo;It was underneath the vinyl siding that was here before and it shows our current house number, which is very visible,&rdquo; says Toben, pointing to metal numbers nailed into the wood slat. It spells out 1761. &ldquo;But then two boards below, there&#39;s a sort of ghosted, painted-over paint.&rdquo;</p><p>That number, barely visible in the 110-year-old wood, reads 615.</p><p>&ldquo;We want to know when we went from 615 to 1761,&rdquo; says Fisch. She and Toben asked Curious City:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>&ldquo;Where did the old number come from? When and why did they renumber the streets?&rdquo;</em></p><p>Fisch and Toben aren&rsquo;t the only Chicagoans with two house numbers &mdash; in fact, any building in the city built before 1909 probably had a different number than it does now.</p><p>These are the result of a massive shift in how the city handles street names and addresses. Today Chicago is known for having one of the simplest street systems of any big city in the world, with every address emanating out from a central origin point at the intersection of State &amp; Madison Streets. It wasn&rsquo;t always going to be that way, though, and many people fought the change. But Edward Paul Brennan, an unsung hero of urban planning, spent much of his life taming the navigational chaos of Chicago&rsquo;s adolescence, and his legacy lives on more than a century later &mdash; even if few people know his name.</p><p>So answering the &ldquo;when&rdquo; of our questioners&rsquo; inquiry is easy: September 1, 1909. But to answer &ldquo;why,&rdquo; we need to go back to some early Chicago history, when a map of the city looked very different.</p><p><strong>The expanding city</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/gulp-how-chicago-gobbled-its-neighbors-109583" target="_blank">Chicago was booming in the late 19th century, gobbling up neighboring towns and annexing them as new neighborhoods of the city</a>. Hundreds of thousands of European immigrants poured into the city, helping triple the city&rsquo;s population between 1880 and 1910. It ballooned in both population and physical size, quadrupling in area in 1889 alone.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/CityLimits/cityLimitsGIF.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chicago%20grow%20graphic.jpg" style="height: 356px; width: 620px;" title="Chicago's population grew tremendously throughout the mid-to-late 19th century. There was hardly an effort to standardize street names and addresses until Edward Paul Brennan came up with a plan. (Click to watch animation of how Chicago grew)." /></a></div><p>&ldquo;That was great for those communities because they got the promise of a good infrastructure, but it also created logistical problems obviously for managing a city that size,&rdquo; says Andrew Oleksiuk, secretary of the Illinois Postal History Society.</p><p>Every town that folded into Chicago, from Lake View to Hyde Park, had its own system for naming and numbering streets. Some towns counted out addresses starting from the Chicago River, while others started from Lake Michigan. Some placed even numbers on the north side of the street, others put them on the south. Some even let developers choose their own street names or numbers if there wasn&rsquo;t a lot of local opposition.</p><p>Oleksiuk says the topsy-turvy numbering system contributed to mailmen&rsquo;s struggle to keep up with changing tech, such as the telegraph, streetcars and a new entrant: the telephone.</p><p>&ldquo;The post office really did see itself as being challenged by these new technologies,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;So doing something like straightening out the numbering system and making it more efficient for mail delivery made them able to compete better in this world of new technologies.&rdquo;</p><p>As city limits swallowed up existing towns, no one bothered to standardize street names and addresses. Not surprisingly, this system frustrated Colonel LeRoy D. Steward, superintendent of city delivery for the Chicago post office, who spoke at an Industrial Club meeting in April 1908.</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;Chicago is suffering from improper mail delivery because of improper street arrangement. ... At present there are 125 towns within the city limits, and all have local street names and numbers. At present there are 511 streets of practically duplicate names. No one knows how many duplicate street numbers there are.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>In a later speech Steward asked: &ldquo;What is the use of spending large sums in beautifying the city when one cannot find one&rsquo;s way about it?&rdquo;</p><p>Such critiques emerged alongside the so-called <a href="http://xroads.virginia.edu/~cap/citybeautiful/city.html" target="_blank">City Beautiful movement</a>, whose proponents believed societal ills would evaporate with the development of rationally designed cities. Private groups like the <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/290.html" target="_blank">City Club</a> and the <a href="http://www.commercialclubchicago.org/" target="_blank">Commercial Club</a> banded together to improve the city, promoting ideas like <a href="http://burnhamplan100.lib.uchicago.edu/history_future/plan_of_chicago/" target="_blank">Daniel Burnham&rsquo;s famous Plan of Chicago</a>, which was published in 1909 &mdash; the same year Brennan&rsquo;s system for rationalizing city addresses first took effect. Celebrated architects and engineers built the Loop, standardized the city&rsquo;s cable car system and carved out green spaces that we still use today. But the elegance of our street system is taken for granted.</p><p><strong>New solutions from a man with a plan</strong></p><p>It wasn&rsquo;t a postal worker or even an urban planner that smoothed out the system. It was a man named Edward Paul Brennan.</p><p>Brennan was a delivery boy for his father&rsquo;s grocery store, and later a bill collector for the music company Lyon &amp; Healy. He was so frustrated with the chaos of Chicago&rsquo;s address system that in 1901 he came up with his own. But it would take him years to get it implemented.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Brennan 1910 courtesy Adelaide Brennan.jpg" style="height: 385px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Edward Paul Brennan in 1910, who devoted his life to crafting a perfect plan for Chicago street nomenclature. (Photo courtesy Adelaide Brennan)" /></div><p>Brennan wasn&rsquo;t the first person to recognize the problem, but he was the most persistent at arguing for a solution. As early as 1879, the <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em> reported on an ordinance for renumbering South Side streets based on Philadelphia&rsquo;s plan, where addresses increased by 100 with every block. It didn&rsquo;t pass.</p><p>&ldquo;His daughter told me that when he was delivering groceries for his father. Before he was even a bill collector, he was running into this problem,&rdquo; says Patrick Reardon, an author and journalist who has researched the history of Chicago&rsquo;s street grid. &ldquo;So this was not something that Brennan uncovered &mdash; it was what everybody lived with. It was like snow in the winter &mdash; it was just part of the nature of the city.&rdquo;</p><p>But Brennan wouldn&rsquo;t accept the status quo. Beginning in the 1890s he started a scrapbook, collecting newspaper articles about problems with city navigation or delays due to address confusion. Articles had headlines like &ldquo;Streets in a Tangle. Visitors Lost.&rdquo; One report tells about a doctor who couldn&rsquo;t find a patient during a house call emergency. Brennan lobbied business leaders and newspaper editors for decades, needling them with letters that began like this one:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;Dear Sir, Do you think a city should have two streets with the same name? Do you think a city should have one street with two or three, or even ten names? You agree that such naming of streets is ridiculous and an insult to the intelligence of any city. Yet Chicago, your city, has hundreds of such streets. This confusion costs you and the other citizens of Chicago hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. &hellip;&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Like many Progressive Era activists, Brennan was motivated by the spirit of the time, devoting his life to crafting &ldquo;a perfect plan for Chicago street nomenclature.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;So let us go forward with the spirit that built the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/your-ticket-white-city-108994" target="_blank">World&rsquo;s Fair</a>, correct our error and present the people of Chicago with a perfect house numbering plan,&rdquo; he said in one of many letters lobbying Chicago aldermen and local business leaders.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Thompson_Chicago_plat_1830.jpg" style="height: 491px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="James Thompson's plat map of Chicago, 1830. (Wikimedia Commons)" />Brennan&rsquo;s plan benefitted from the grid system laid out by James Thompson&rsquo;s official plat map for the city in 1830. Because of the regular spacing of Chicago&rsquo;s city blocks, the continuation of the grid despite any geographic features, and the absence of curved roads, Brennan&rsquo;s 1901 plan could be highly logical and mathematical. &ldquo;In this way,&rdquo; Brennan wrote, &ldquo;the numbers will indicate the locality at a glance.&rdquo;</p><p>With the help of an independent alderman named Charlie Byrne (who happened to be Brennan&rsquo;s cousin) he presented his &ldquo;Street Nomenclature Plan&rdquo; to the City Council in 1901. It included four big ideas: All addresses would be centered around a 0,0 point at State and Madison Streets; street names would include the direction; even-numbered addresses would always be on the west and north sides of any street, with odd numbers on the east and south sides; house numbers would increase by 800 (or 8 blocks) every mile, although Brennan had originally proposed 1000 addresses per mile.</p><p>Brennan&rsquo;s plan would also involve renaming many streets in order to cut confusion caused by duplication and other problems.</p><p>After his initial proposal, Brennan argued that Kinzie and State should instead be the new 0,0 baseline street, in honor of early settler John Kinzie. Alternate plans from other map enthusiasts proposed Western and Madison, because of its proximity to the geographic center of the growing city.</p><p><strong>A new address for every house in town</strong></p><p>After more than seven years of petitioning, the City Council passed Brennan&rsquo;s house numbering plan in 1908 and it went into effect on September 1, 1909. Businesses within the Loop fought the change early on, arguing that &mdash; among other things &mdash; it would cost too much to reprint their stationery. They received an extra two years to adopt the same system as the rest of the city.</p><p>The process of converting the address of nearly every household in Chicago was a daunting task. Newspaper accounts in the days and weeks leading up to the mandatory changes indicate confusion, resignation, and also humor. City directories published maps and thick new guides that residents and businesses could purchase, listing every old address and its new equivalent. Residents sent illustrated postcards with poems or cartoons to friends, notifying them of the change.</p><p>&ldquo;If you had your Aunt Matilda in Kansas who&#39;s sending you a letter, she doesn&#39;t necessarily know about the re-numbering system,&rdquo; says Oleksiuk. &ldquo;You have to write her a letter to tell her, &lsquo;My new address is such and such.&rsquo; &lsquo;Oh you moved?&rsquo; &lsquo;No I didn&#39;t. They&#39;re just re-numbering the streets.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Trouble lived beyond the initial confusion, though, as some people actively fought the change.</p><p>&ldquo;There were people who saw what [Brennan] was doing and what the city was doing in changing street names as meddling with the historic nature of their streets,&rdquo; says Reardon. &ldquo;So it was not a simple or an uncontroversial thing.&rdquo;</p><table border="0" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1" style="width: 620px;"><tbody><tr><td><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/addresses/1.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/old_residence_1_thumb.jpg" style="height: 203px; width: 203px;" title="" /></a></div></td><td><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/addresses/5.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mailman_newspaperclip_6_thumb.jpg" title="" /></a></div></div></td><td><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/addresses/3.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/town_5_thumb.jpg" title="" /></a></div></div></td></tr><tr><td><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/addresses/2.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/newhomenumber_3_thumb.jpg" style="height: 203px; width: 203px;" title="" /></a></div></td><td><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/addresses/4.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/sameoldhammock_4_thumb.jpg" style="height: 203px; width: 203px;" title="" /></a></div></td><td><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/addresses/6.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mayor_newspaperclip_7_thumb.jpg" title="" /></a></div></td></tr></tbody></table><p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:10px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Above: Postcards and newspaper clippings show the humor and confusion the city felt after the house number changes. Click on an image for large view.</span></span></p><p>Some residents banded together, lobbied their aldermen, and fought the city&rsquo;s proposed street name changes.</p><p>Under Brennan&rsquo;s plan, the tiny streets of Arlington Place and Deming Place in Lincoln Park should have been renamed as Montana Street and Lill Avenue, because they aligned east to west with those longer streets, despite not having a continuous block of streets.</p><p>&ldquo;Deming Place and Arlington Place residents joined Bellevue Place residents yesterday in expressing indignation at the cold-bloodedness of the council committee on street nomenclature which has threatened to rob them all of their euphonious titles.&rdquo; &mdash; <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em>, Dec. 19, 1908</p><p>Others in the city were upset that they were losing a familiar house number. Mrs. Charles E. Pope, a resident along Chicago&rsquo;s Lake Shore Drive, wrote to the <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em> in early 1909:</p><p>&ldquo;Really, I don&rsquo;t see how we shall be able to bear the burden of four numbers after being used to only two. Besides, most of us have lived here many years, and we don&rsquo;t like to see things changed.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.chsmedia.org/househistory/1909snc/start.PDF" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/map%20showing%20house%20number%20cutout.PNG" style="height: 153px; width: 220px; float: right;" title="Click for full document of Chicago's 1909 street name and number changes." /></a>But even after the city-wide address renumbering, Brennan&rsquo;s work wasn&rsquo;t done. For the next 30 years he rooted out duplicate street names and inconsistencies, lobbying incessantly as part of the City Club&rsquo;s two-man Street Nomenclature Committee.</p><p>Brennan didn&rsquo;t get everything he wanted. He publicly lamented when aldermen wouldn&rsquo;t take his suggestions for new street names, all of which he said should reference &ldquo;meaningful&rdquo; things like art, literature, history, poetry, and &ldquo;illustrious names from many foreign lands.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It is for us of the present day to continue the work so well begun by the pioneers of Chicago instead of being looked upon as iconoclasts by future generations,&rdquo; he said in 1913. &quot;With a history rich in meaningful names there will be no need of our innocent thoroughfares being rechristened Hinton, Dunmore, Dennison, Empire, or Limerick.&quot;</p><p>As always for Brennan, it was a matter of historic importance.</p><p>&quot;We are about to do something which will last as long as Chicago does,&rdquo; he wrote.</p><p><strong>Brennan&rsquo;s legacy</strong></p><p>After the initial disruption caused by the changes, Chicagoans eventually appreciated the relative simplicity of the city&#39;s new street names and addresses. But Brennan&rsquo;s name was largely forgotten in the years after his death in 1942. His daughters wrote to newspaper editors and the city&rsquo;s map department attempting to have their father&rsquo;s work recognized.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Five years later, City Council named a South Side street in his honor: South Brennan Avenue runs from 96th Street south to 98th Street in the Jeffery Manor neighborhood. At the time the city publicly acknowledged the elegance of Brennan&rsquo;s system, noting &ldquo;There are now fewer street names in Chicago than in any other city in the country of even one-half the area of Chicago.&quot; Chicago had 3,629 miles of streets with just 1,370 names &mdash; far fewer than other cities with smaller geographical footprints at the time: New York (5,003), Baltimore (3,929), or Cleveland (2,199).</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/honorary%20brennan.jpg" title="Today, Brennan's got an honorary street named after him at the intersection of State and Madison Streets, the city's 0,0 point. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></div></div><p>Every time Chicagoans navigate the 227 square miles of their city, they&rsquo;re unwittingly perpetuating Brennan&rsquo;s legacy. But until recently one of the only explicit reminders of the man himself was a collection of weathered scrapbooks he carefully collected, which was placed in the care of the Chicago History Museum by Mary Brennan, one of his daughters.</p><p>Another daughter, Adelaide, lived to the age of 99 and was able <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-08-25/opinion/ct-perspec-0825-madison-20130825_1_south-branch-north-branch-chicago-river" target="_blank">to see Ald. Brendan Reilly dedicate the northwest corner of State and Madison as Edward Brennan Way</a> in 2013.</p><p>Still, few people recognize the name of the man instrumental in rationalizing Chicago&rsquo;s streets. Compare that to the fate of Daniel Burnham.</p><p>&ldquo;Edward Paul Brennan was the man who, in my mind, is comparable to Daniel Burnham,&rdquo; says Patrick Reardon. &ldquo;Burnham had the Plan of Chicago, which was set up to change the landscape, the physical landscape of the city. Edward Brennan changed the mental landscape of the city.&rdquo;</p><p>And that mental landscape persists today. Since Brennan&rsquo;s system is universal across the city, with 800 numbers to a mile, Chicagoans still use that same mental landscape to get around their city.</p><p>Raphael Nash was born in the West Side&rsquo;s Austin neighborhood, but has lived all over the city. He had to learn Brennan&rsquo;s system, even if he didn&rsquo;t know it was Brennan&rsquo;s.</p><p>And even though most people today use a GPS to get around, Nash says it&rsquo;s useful to have a mental map as precise as Brennan&rsquo;s.</p><p>&ldquo;Sometimes I&#39;m driving and I don&#39;t need to be fumbling with the phone or anything so I just look up and pay attention to the number,&rdquo; Nash says.</p><p>Brennan&rsquo;s system is so simple that Nash and several other Chicagoans interviewed for this story say it has ruined them for other cities.</p><p>&ldquo;When I spent time on the East Coast I learned cities like Boston, which is just a mess. I was like OK, we had order,&rdquo; says Nash. &ldquo;And when I came back home was I was like, &lsquo;wow this is really easy.&rsquo; I don&rsquo;t know why I never paid attention to it.&rdquo;</p><p>Now Nash knows who to thank for that.</p><p>&ldquo;Thank you, Mr. Brennan,&rdquo; he says.</p><p><strong>Who inspired our question?</strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/toben%20_%20fisch1%20%281%29%202.jpg" style="height: 434px; width: 620px;" title="Paul Toben, left, and Jessica Fisch, right, discovered their old house number while fixing up the place they recently bought in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></p><p>We have several questioners to thank for inspiring this look into the city&rsquo;s rational street-numbering system. Jessica Fisch and Paul Toben started us off, but so did Marina Post, a Chicago homeowner.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/post6%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" style="height: 484px; width: 270px; float: right;" title="Marina Post asked us a similar question about her home in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" />Post wondered why her 1890s home in Wicker Park (today 2146 W. Caton St.) was one of several homes in the neighborhood with stained glass windows displaying lower, outdated address numbers. Post&rsquo;s is 51.</p><p>&ldquo;I can imagine it would feel somewhat demeaning to go from 51, which feels kind of exclusive,&rdquo; Post says, &ldquo;to 2146, which just makes you feel like you&#39;re one of the masses somehow. I could imagine if I were living at that time I would feel attached to my number.&rdquo;</p><p>She may as well have been talking about Mrs. Charles E. Pope, who complained about &ldquo;the burden of four numbers&rdquo; to the <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em> during the address change. In fact we might owe our questioners&rsquo; curiosity to those stubborn homeowners from the early 20th century who kept their old house numbers beside the new, standardized addresses under Brennan&rsquo;s plan. Without them we wouldn&rsquo;t have the physical evidence of the pre-1909 system &mdash; or lack thereof &mdash; that piqued the interest of people like Paul Toben, Jessica Fisch and Marina Post.</p><p><em><a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">Chris Bentley is a freelance journalist</a> who reports regularly for WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City. Follow him at <a href="http://cabentley.com/">cabentley.com</a> and on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>. Jen Masengarb is Director of Interpretation and Research at the <a href="http://www.architecture.org/" target="_blank">Chicago Architecture Foundation</a>. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/jmasengarb" target="_blank">@jmasengarb</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 20 May 2015 12:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/unsung-hero-urban-planning-who-made-it-easy-get-around-chicago-112061 NTSB: CTA shares blame for O'Hare Blue line crash http://www.wbez.org/news/ntsb-cta-shares-blame-ohare-blue-line-crash-111955 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/ctacrash.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago&#39;s transit agency shares in the blame for an accident last year in which a driver fell asleep and crashed a commuter train into a platform and up an escalator at O&#39;Hare airport, federal investigators concluded Tuesday. And they warned that, without changes, a similar accident could happen elsewhere.</p><p>The National Transportation Safety Board announced its findings at a meeting in Washington, D.C., and made nationwide safety recommendations, including that all U.S. transit agencies consider the effects of operator fatigue when preparing employee work schedules. The board also pressed for transit agencies to install more advanced control systems that automatically apply a train&#39;s brakes and prevent collisions if a driver fails to act.</p><p>The Chicago derailment happened just before 3 a.m. on March 24, 2014, when the exhausted driver was on her 12th straight day of working primarily night shifts. The accident injured more than 30 passengers and caused $9 million in damage to the transit station at one of the country&#39;s busiest airports. No one was on the usually busy escalator at the time.</p><p>The train operator acknowledged dozing off and was fired. But the investigation also found that the Chicago Transit Authority had the driver working a schedule that contributed to her exhaustion. The agency also failed to spot hazards in the station&#39;s design that meant track-side emergency braking systems and the platform bumper could not stop the train at the speeds permitted in the station.</p><p>Those conclusions should raise alarms around the country, NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart said, noting overnight schedules have become the norm in today&#39;s 24-7 culture, even in safety-critical jobs.</p><p>&quot;To its credit, CTA has revised its work-rest policy since the accident, but ... this begs the question of what is happening elsewhere in the country,&quot; he said.</p><p>The Chicago agency has increased drivers&#39; off-duty time from eight hours to 10 hours between shifts and barred first-year operators from working overtime. They&#39;ve also increased employee training on fatigue management and lowered the speed limit for trains entering O&#39;Hare station.</p><p>&quot;The changes created some of the most stringent guidelines among U.S. transit agencies, and demonstrated the CTA&#39;s ongoing commitment to safety,&quot; the agency said in a statement Tuesday.</p><p>Investigators said the train operator failed to use her hours off to get proper rest, but acknowledged that sleeping during the day would have been hard because she was still adjusting to working night shifts.</p><p>The NTSB previously has recommended hours-of-service rules based around the science on fatigue for all major modes of transportation except transit. The Chicago accident revealed the gap and Tuesday&#39;s recommendations were aimed at resolving the problem.</p><p>The suggested changes also include a proposal for all new or rehabbed transit trains to be equipped with data recorders.</p><p>But perhaps the most sweeping recommendation was for all transit agencies to install automatic transmission-based braking systems as a safety net for human error. That&#39;s similar to the GPS-based emergency braking technology known as Positive Train Control that the heavy rail industry is under pressure to install.</p><p>It would be a significant expense for many cash-strapped transit agencies.</p><p>It will be up to the Federal Transit Administration to decide whether to require the proposed changes.</p></p> Tue, 28 Apr 2015 14:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ntsb-cta-shares-blame-ohare-blue-line-crash-111955