WBEZ | cmap http://www.wbez.org/tags/cmap Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Morning Shift: Remembering Harold Ramis http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-02-25/morning-shift-remembering-harold-ramis-109766 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Harold Ramis Flickr justinhoch.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We look at the life and career of Chicago-based writer, actor and director Harold Ramis. Plus, we check-in on the Illinois governor&#39;s race with less than one month to go until the primary.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-remembering-harold-ramis/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-remembering-harold-ramis.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-remembering-harold-ramis" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Remembering Harold Ramis" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Tue, 25 Feb 2014 08:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-02-25/morning-shift-remembering-harold-ramis-109766 Chicago agency narrowly approves Illiana Tollway http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-agency-narrowly-approves-illiana-tollway-108952 <p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Illiana%201%20%281%29.jpg" title=" Is this a ‘highway to nowhere’ or path to the future for the south suburbs? (WBEZ/Michael Puente)" /></p><p dir="ltr">UPDATED 11 p.m.: The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning voted 11-8 on Thursday night to add the Illiana Tollway to its Go To 2040 plan. That means the Illinios Department of Transportation can now start seeking bids to build the highway.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The vote came after nearly three hours of debate among board members, elected officials and the public. Opponents cited the high costs of the project, destruction of farmland and potential harm to natural areas. But supporters like U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly said it was about investing in a region that deserves funding as much as Chicago does.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;It feels like the opposition to the Illiana, sometimes, is based on a long-standing bias against the Southland when it comes to infrastructure investment,&quot; Kelly said.</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">The Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission still must approve the highway. That vote won&#39;t come until December.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><em>WBEZ&#39;s Michael Puente and Melba Lara provide an update about Thursday night&#39;s decision in the audio below:</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/115882497" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><div>********</div><p dir="ltr">Tommy Daniels mostly likes being a truck driver. His run takes him to Green Bay Packer territory, down to southern Illinois and parts of Indiana.</p><p dir="ltr">But on a recent afternoon, Daniels was dreading hitting the road.</p><p dir="ltr">He was about to set off from the Petro Truck Stop in south suburban Crete, and he says that means wading into lots of traffic on Interstate 294.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s terrible. It&rsquo;s one of the worst things you&rsquo;d ever want to get caught up in,&rdquo; Daniels, of University Park, said.</p><p dir="ltr">Daniels says he supports efforts to build the alternate east-west route called the Illiana Expressway. The nearly 50-mile highway would run from I-55 in Will County to I-65 in Northwest Indiana.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They should have did it 20 years ago, 40 years ago,&rdquo; Daniels said.</p><p dir="ltr">Later today (Thursday), the policy board for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) will meet to decide if the Illiana Expressway should be added to its <a href="http://www.cmap.illinois.gov/2040/main">Go To 2040 plan</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">A &lsquo;yes&rsquo; vote means the Illiana would be in line for millions of dollars in funding. A &lsquo;no&rsquo; vote could sound the death knell of a proposal that&rsquo;s been on the drawing board in one form or another for more than a century.</p><p dir="ltr">Up until now, CMAP has sent mixed signals. A transportation committee for CMAP voted last week to include the Illiana on the Go To 2040 plan but several members voted against the plan.</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Illiana%203.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Trucker Tommy Daniels says the Illiana is needed to relieve congestion on Chicago area highways. (WBEZ/Michael Puente)" />CMAP&rsquo;s own staff recommended against funding the Illiana, claiming the highway would not produce enough permanent jobs and cost way too much. CMAP&rsquo;s main board also voted against the Illiana but now the policy board has the final say.</p><p dir="ltr">If it were up to Tim Pals, he would definitely build the Illiana. Pals owns and operates Eagle Express Lines in south suburban South Holland, Ill. His company hauls mail for the U.S. Postal Service and congestion often plays a role in whether a package is delivered on time.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We have critical entry times that the Post Office has to have the mail in by. So, traffic is a big deal,&rdquo; Pals, of Crown Point, Indiana, said.</p><p dir="ltr">Even though he&rsquo;s in favor of the Illiana, Pals also cautions that if tolls on the Illiana are too expensive, truckers may not use it.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;If you&rsquo;re going from say even the western suburbs to Indianapolis, it would make a lot of sense because you would avoid all this bottleneck traffic down here. But it would all depend on how much it&rsquo;s going to cost for the toll as well,&rdquo; Pals says. &ldquo;When the new I-355 extension was put on, it was not only a toll road, it was tolled at a higher rate for trucks than 294. So, if something like that went through, who knows?&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">If built, the Illiana could also have an impact on the little town of Manhattan, Illinois, about an hour southwest of Chicago.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a lot of trucks,&rdquo; says Ed Cooper, who&rsquo;s lived in Manhattan for most of his life and frequently watches trucks rumble through town on their way to large distribution warehouses. He also favors the Illiana, but worries about its effect on nearby landowners.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;A lot of landowners down there are going to lose, you know,&rdquo; Cooper said. &ldquo;Because they&rsquo;ll they just condemn the ground. They won&rsquo;t give them what it&rsquo;s worth. &ldquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Even if CMAP gives the green light to the Illiana, it will be awhile before cars and trucks travel on it.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They could start today and it won&rsquo;t be done in 20 years anyway so it&rsquo;s not going to bother us old farts,&rdquo; Cooper said.</p><p dir="ltr">Because the region is home to several large intermodal facilities, building the Illiana near here makes sense. But some critics contend there&rsquo;s not enough population to justify the new highway.</p><p dir="ltr">However, if the Illiana isn&rsquo;t built now, farm land that&rsquo;s open will eventually be overtaken by new housing developments and businesses.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It will develop. It will grow,&rdquo; says Manhattan resident and attorney Ben Hyink.</p><p dir="ltr">Manhattan is home to several nice subdivisions and miles of wide open farmland.</p><p dir="ltr">It&rsquo;s also close to the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, which has caused some environmentalists to oppose the Illiana.</p><p dir="ltr">Still, Hyink says there&rsquo;s been surprisingly little talk about it around town. Folks might be skeptical since another nearby development project, the so-called Peotone airport, has gone nowhere.</p><p dir="ltr">Hyink says the Illiana decision will affect not just that potential third Chicago airport, but also how the entire south region grows in the future.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It looks like it&rsquo;s all designed around a Peotone airport. And if the Peotone airport doesn&rsquo;t go in then it is a highway to nowhere.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Follow WBEZ&rsquo;s Northwest Indiana Reporter Michael Puente on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews" target="_blank">@MikePuenteNews </a>and on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/WBEZ-Northwest-Indiana-Bureau/701257506570573?ref=br_tf" target="_blank">Facebook</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 17 Oct 2013 10:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-agency-narrowly-approves-illiana-tollway-108952 Is the billion dollar Illiana Expressway worth building? http://www.wbez.org/news/billion-dollar-illiana-expressway-worth-building-108620 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Illiana 1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois and Indiana don&rsquo;t often agree on much, but the governors of both states recently touted the building of the Illiana Expressway. At a cost of a billion dollars, the Illiana would link Chicago&rsquo;s far southern suburbs to southern Lake County, Indiana with an alternative east-west route for traffic. Supporters say the project would generate thousands of jobs for decades to come.</p><p>But in a critical <a href="https://www.metroplanning.org/news-events/media-release/6768">report</a> released Wednesday, the Metropolitan Planning Council of Chicago says the highway won&rsquo;t create nearly enough jobs or economic development to justify its cost.</p><p>&ldquo;If you take $1 billion and you invest it anywhere, you&rsquo;re going to create some construction jobs and near-term jobs without a doubt. That billion dollars is going to have an economic ripple,&rdquo; Peter Skosey, executive vice president of the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) of Chicago, told WBEZ on Thursday. &ldquo;The real question is what is the sustained ripple from that investment? And that&rsquo;s where we think the Illiana falls short.&rdquo;</p><p>The MPC is an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that seeks to develop strategies to deal with the Chicago area&rsquo;s planning and development challenges.</p><p>Using data from the highway agencies in Illinois and Indiana, the MPC has concluded that the Illiana will provide few benefits in exchange for &ldquo;high and uncertain costs.&rdquo; The MPC is opposed to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, a separate government agency, adding the Illiana to its &lsquo;GO TO 2040&rsquo; plan. The plan is essentially an infrastructure and road priority list for the Chicago area.</p><p>The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) will vote in October whether to include the Illiana on the list.</p><p>The MPC is also sending its findings to the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission, which is developing its own 2040 plan and will decide soon whether to fund Indiana&rsquo;s portion of the Illiana.</p><p>Skosey says the Illiana&rsquo;s estimated project cost of $1.3 billion is too low. He says building the expressway will result in almost no improvement in congestion on existing highways and produce 1,000 fewer long-term jobs.</p><p>&ldquo;It would effectively redistribute jobs and population from the center of the region,&rdquo; Skosey said.</p><p>Over the past year, public hearings have been held on both sides of the state lines with residents who will likely be affected by the Illiana. Some residents expect to lose their homes if the highway is built.</p><p>Proponents say the Illiana is needed to foster development in the region and could also serve a proposed major airport near Peotone.</p><p>But the Illiana faces a tough road ahead.</p><p>In July, three environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, filed a federal lawsuit challenging the impact to nature areas in Illinois.</p><p>CMAP is also questioning IDOT&rsquo;s own cost estimates for the Illiana.</p><p>&ldquo;Given the available information, CMAP&rsquo;s observation is that IDOT&rsquo;s estimate of the project cost is low relative to other comparable projects,&rdquo; CMAP wrote in a June 2010 letter to the Illinois Department of Transportation. &ldquo;A more detailed cost estimate would be required to perform a robust evaluation of the proposed project&rsquo;s financial viability and its impact on GO TO 2040&rsquo;s fiscal constraint.&rdquo;</p><p>In August of this year, Ann Schneider, secretary of IDOT, wrote a letter to CMAP in defense of the Illiana Expressway and its impact on Will County.</p><p>&ldquo;Will County has emerged as a nationally significant inland port, with billions of dollars in goods being imported and exported. Beyond our comprehensive analysis, it&rsquo;s simply common sense that we make strategic transportation investments such as the Illiana Corridor project to maintain and strengthen this existing economic center, and in doing so, strengthen the region,&rdquo; Schneider wrote.</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ NWI bureau reporter Michael Puente on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews">@MikePuenteNews</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 05 Sep 2013 17:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/billion-dollar-illiana-expressway-worth-building-108620 Manufacturing comeback could drive infill and energy efficiency http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/manufacturing-comeback-could-drive-infill-and-energy-efficiency-105752 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/rappduane/6070960991/in/photostream/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/wind-turbine-by-Duane-Rapp.jpg" title="Wind turbines at the Lee-Dekalb Wind Energy Center. Renewable energy could benefit from a resurgence in the Chicago region's manufacturing sector. (Duane Rapp via Flickr)" /></a></p><p>Manufacturing is a defining part of the Chicago region&rsquo;s past, but <a href="http://cmap.illinois.gov/policy/drill-downs/manufacturing">a report from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning</a> says it could guide regional development in the future, too.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/what-next-decade-chicago-manufacturing-should-look-105755">WBEZ&#39;s Niala Boodhoo has a rundown of the report&#39;s main points</a>, but here&rsquo;s what it says for land use and energy &mdash; two key factors for the kind of manufacturing resurgence the report envisions. It&#39;s the kind of advanced manufacturing renaissance <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/video/state-union-2013-obama-announces-manufacturing-education-initiatives-18483105" target="_blank">recently touted by President Barack Obama</a>. (Read the <a href="http://cmap.illinois.gov/policy/drill-downs/manufacturing" target="_blank">full report and a summary here</a>.)</p><p><strong>Development and transportation</strong></p><p>CMAP looked at the seven-county region of northeastern Illinois. That encompasses 580,000 manufacturing jobs, a &quot;cluster&quot; of jobs second only to Los Angeles, but also the region&rsquo;s suburban and exurban sprawl. The report recommends incentives for infill growth and investment in transportation infrastructure. That would be transit-oriented development, oriented around pockets (or &ldquo;nodes&rdquo;) of density near the suburban hotbeds of the region&rsquo;s manufacturing sector.</p><p>Transportation infrastructure is already underfunded, with regional transit agencies eyeing about <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-09-27/news/ct-met-rta-borrowing-20120927_1_rta-chairman-john-gates-rta-plan-bond-plan">$31 billion for infrastructure improvements and other capital investments</a> over the next 10 years. The job growth projected in CMAP&rsquo;s report could potentially goad some additional investment, but the transportation system&rsquo;s looming budget gap is a serious challenge to the kind of transit-friendly development called for in the report calls.</p><p>To encourage density, the report recommends infill development &mdash; redevelopment on existing vacant properties. There are <a href="http://www.cmap.illinois.gov/documents/20583/019144d1-be14-4484-ae1d-ddd762a04122" target="_blank">more than 100,000 acres of land available for infill development</a>, CMAP said, but taking advantage of under-used land can be difficult. Industrial land could be environmentally contaminated, and much of the land that once hosted large facilities has been divided up by individual land buyers over the years, fragmenting the land available for new manufacturers. Still, there is massive potential, as seen in the map below.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/infill.png" style="height: 831px; width: 610px;" title="Infill redevelopment potential in the Chicago region. (Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning)" /></div><p><strong>Energy</strong></p><p>Manufacturing is the largest domestic consumer of energy, making up about one third of total energy use nationwide. Ultimately CMAP&rsquo;s projections for a revitalized manufacturing base in northeastern Illinois don&rsquo;t hinge on energy issues; only a few industries account for 70 percent of all the energy use by manufacturers in Illinois, and those same industries account for just 25 percent of manufacturing employment. Nonetheless energy remains a major factor for manufacturing operations.</p><p>Illinois has a slightly higher cost for energy delivered to industry than other states in the midwest, the report notes. The cost of coal in Illinois is 16 percent lower than the national average, but with natural gas prices plummeting, that is unlikely to be a major advantage. And manufacturers use more natural gas than any other end user.</p><p><a href="http://cmap.illinois.gov/policy/drill-downs/manufacturing" target="_blank">The report</a> also says industrial firms in Illinois could make better use of combined heat and power (CHP) systems that recover waste heat for reuse and electricity generation, citing a World Resources Institute study that found CHP potential in Illinois was the largest in the Midwest, totaling four times the currently installed capacity. They point to an East Chicago steel manufacturer, ArcelorMittal, that recovers more energy from its blast furnace, the world&rsquo;s largest, than the power from all the existing wind turbines in Illinois and Indiana combined.</p><p>CHP would be more attractive, the report says, if firms could more easily sell excess energy back to the grid. That practice is currently limited by regulation. The state <a href="http://www3.illinois.gov/PressReleases/ShowPressRelease.cfm?SubjectID=29&amp;RecNum=10557">recently won a grant to improve energy efficiency in manufacturing</a>, which could potentially speed up efforts to install CHP systems. To fund those installations, the report suggests that utilities provide upfront investments to be repaid through future energy savings.</p><p>Manufacturing growth could encourage renewable energy deployment, too, as manufacturers get a relatively high percentage (5 percent) of their energy from renewable sources compared to the residential (2.3 percent), transportation (1 percent)&nbsp;and commercial (0.8 percent) sectors.</p><p>And the regional employment outlook could also benefit from an increased demand for renewable energy. Wind turbine manufacturing is growing in northeastern Illinois &mdash; German turbine giant Nordex and Chinese company Xianjiang Goldwind located their North American headquarters in Chicago. With only a few hundred regional employees, wind turbine manufacturing is not yet a major employer. It is, however, <a href="http://www.awea.org/learnabout/publications/factsheets/upload/3Q-12-Illinois.pdf">a rapidly growing market</a>.</p><p>Energy storage is another likely beneficiary of the kind of manufacturing comeback CMAP recommends. The Department of Energy <a href="http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/30/seeking-to-start-a-silicon-valley-for-battery-science/">recently named</a> <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/argonne-national-laboratory">Argonne National Laboratory</a> a national hub for battery research.</p><p>But the report also notes that the region&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20130226/NEWS05/130229845/chicago-takes-a-nosedive-in-r-d" target="_blank">investments in research and development have plummeted</a>&nbsp;in the last ten years.&nbsp;The authors recommend the state match federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants to build on regional expertise. Renewable energy made up 13 of 82 SBIR awards in the region in 2011, more than any other specified research category.</p><p><em>Chris Bentley writes about environmental issues. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 26 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/manufacturing-comeback-could-drive-infill-and-energy-efficiency-105752