WBEZ | IDOT http://www.wbez.org/tags/idot Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 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 Morning Shift: Fear, excitement and uncertainty face the college bound http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-09/morning-shift-fear-excitement-and-uncertainty-face <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Dorm-Flickr- Robert Boscacci.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Are you or one of your kids heading off to college? We discuss some of the trepidation both students and parents face as they make the jump to college co-ed.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-40.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-40" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Fear, excitement and uncertainty face the college bound" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Fri, 09 Aug 2013 08:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-09/morning-shift-fear-excitement-and-uncertainty-face IDOT photos showcase classic Chicago http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-07/idot-photos-showcase-classic-chicago-108006 <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/getimage%20%283%29.jpg" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Recognize the intersection in the above photo?</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">It&#39;s the corner of Sheridan and Broadway in 1936. Dig the old cars, the traffic cop near the middle of picture, the Walgreens store behind him and that well-posed woman in that wicked striped dress in the foreground.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">This photograph is one of scores taken by the Illinois Department of Transportation from the 1920s through the 1950s. The photos documented the bridges, roads and infrastructure built by the agency across the city. And they provide a clear and fascinating look into Chicago&#39;s past. The Special Collections and University Archives, University of Illinois at Chicago Library has been kind enough to put this <a href="http://collections.carli.illinois.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/uic_idot&amp;CISOPTR=135">valuable resource online.</a>&nbsp;The original photographers put in all kinds of helpful notes that are also cataloged. For instance, the above photo was taken at 8:36am and is looking west on Sheridan. They even included a location&#39;s longitude and latitude.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Check this out: The corner of 102nd and Yates. Today it is an area of brick Postwar homes. But in 1938, there was no war yet &mdash; not for the United States, at least &mdash; and no homes, except for that lonely apartment building in the distance to the right:</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/getimage%20%281%29.jpg" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Look at the Queen Anne el station at Lake and Sacramento, 1939. Everything in this photo, including the station, is long gone. And what a shame that is. The Green Line tracks are still there:</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/getimage_1.jpg" title="" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Let&#39;s end with this IDOT photo looking north on Michigan Avenue from Washington taken in 1937. What is now the Chicago Cultural Center is on the left. To the right you can see the old peristyle that once sat in Grant Park. The feature was demolished in the 1950s and recreated, in a smaller scale, when Millennium Park was built. And look at that giant sign on the northeast corner of Michigan and Randolph, where Millennium Park Plaza apartments are now:</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/getimage%20%282%29.jpg" title="" /></div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 10 Jul 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-07/idot-photos-showcase-classic-chicago-108006 The deal with those traffic death highway signs http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/deal-those-traffic-death-highway-signs-106569 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F87313182&amp;color=00d3ff&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR WEB Fatality Signs from IDOT bureau of safety engineering.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="The emergency information signs are installed around Illinois and among their messages in rotation is one displaying the provisional number of traffic fatalities in the state. The above number is not current. (Photo courtesy of IDOT) " /></div></div><p>It&rsquo;s a morbid subject: traffic deaths. And one that&rsquo;s garnered a number of questions to our project. Four questions, to be exact. All are all about the traffic death signs that appear over Chicago&rsquo;s highways and around the state of Illinois, and they can all be summed up essentially by the way this anonymous asker put it:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What is the deal with the traffic related death toll rate tally signs on expressways?</em></p><p>The very short answer is these signs display the current number of confirmed deaths in the state of Illinois that involved a motor vehicle (car, truck, motorcycle, bus, etc.). This could mean a fatal crash involving a car and a bicyclist, a pedestrian killed in a motorcycle collision, a car hitting a tree, you get the idea.</p><p><strong>A difficult calculation </strong></p><p>The numbers of confirmed deaths are collected and processed by the <a href="http://www.dot.state.il.us/">Illinois Department of Transportation</a> as part of a federal mandate. John Webber is the Interim Director for the <a href="http://trafficsafety.illinois.gov/">Division of Traffic Safety</a> for IDOT. He says the number of deaths displayed on highways is provisional and gets updated every day, Monday through Friday and disseminated to highway offices around the state. Those offices then switch their highways signs over to reflect the new number. The idea that these numbers are provisional deserves more explanation. A death that involves a motor vehicle can also involve other factors that would mean it doesn&rsquo;t get added to the count. Webber says sometimes drivers are suffering from an illness or impairment that may cause a crash.</p><p>&ldquo;Let&rsquo;s just say I&rsquo;m driving down the street and I have a heart attack and I veer off the road and hit a tree and I die. Well the coroner will determine if I died of the heart attack or if I died from the crash,&rdquo; Webber says.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ghost%20bike.jpg" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Ghost bikes around Chicago commemorate cyclists who have been killed in motor vehicle accidents. (Flickr/bike_ema)" /></p><p>If the coroner rules the death was due to the heart attack, it would not be added to the traffic death toll. Webber adds that sometimes a person may end up dying of injuries from a crash that occurred a month earlier, and that report may take some time to be filed with his offices.</p><p>Another factor that makes real-time reporting of traffic deaths impossible is that some of Illinois&rsquo; police stations are still filing traffic incidents reports via paper, rather than electronically submitting them. At the time of writing this story, Webber says the fatalities from 2012 are still being calculated.</p><p><strong>Why the signs came to be </strong></p><p>Early in 2012, IDOT spotted a disturbing trend: there was an alarming uptick in fatalities from year&rsquo;s past. By May 2012, Webber says there were 65 more crash fatalities than in May 2011. Why that was can&rsquo;t be known for sure, but he guesses the unseasonably mild winter had a lot to do with it. The logic goes: the better the weather, the more motorists and the higher the probability for crashes and fatalities.</p><p>IDOT and a number of other parties including the Illinois State Police and Department of Public Health came together for a safety summit to figure out how they could help tackle the problem. Webber says of the many ideas they discussed, one that had unanimous support was one that also had no cost: to use the electronic emergency highway signs to alert people about traffic fatalities. He says these signs were installed in the early 2000s all over Illinois (as budget allowed), and their primary purpose was and still is to notify motorists of emergencies. Messaging on them ranges from <a href="http://www.amberalert.gov/">AMBER alerts</a> (child-abduction notices) to traffic times to the classic seat belt safety slogan &ldquo;Click It or Ticket,&rdquo; among others. <a href="http://www.dot.il.gov/press/r070812.html">In July of 2012</a>, they added the traffic fatalities message to the rotation.<iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/QXCWt7rZRzc" width="560"></iframe></p><p>IDOT also expanded the campaign to videos such as this, and other messaging as well, including front billing on their website.</p><p>Webber says other states have used electronic signage to show similar messaging.</p><p><strong>Backlash? </strong></p><p>Webber says he knew there&rsquo;d be some controversy around posting traffic fatality numbers in this way. But he estimates that three out of four folks who contact IDOT about the signs are in support of them. But that 25% who are not tend to have a very personal reason why.</p><p>Webber says, &ldquo;The ones who are against often are people who have recently lost someone in a crash - it becomes a terrible reminder to them. And we&rsquo;re very very aware that that can be a painful thing for a lot of people. And we&rsquo;re just hoping that the public good that this can provide would outweigh that - and that people would understand that&rsquo;s our motive, not anything else.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>But is it working?</strong></p><p>When I asked Webber how they&rsquo;re measuring the effect of the signs, he says he can only look at the numbers. From the time they began posting the fatalities count via the electronic signs last summer, there was a net decrease in fatalities. But whether or not the signs were to thank for it Webber says, is anyone&rsquo;s guess. He points to a statistic norm: at the beginning of the &ldquo;driving season&rdquo; (unofficially, when the weather gets consistently nicer) there tends to be inordinately more crashes and fatalities, but that levels out as spring and summer turn to fall. So the new messaging on signs hasn&#39;t changed that oddity of human behavior, but Webber thinks they haven&rsquo;t hurt either. He says IDOT has no plans to stop the messaging anytime soon.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/crash.jpg" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="When weather starts to warm up, more motorists are out and more accidents and fatalities occur. (Flickr/Toby Oxborrow)" /></p><p><a href="http://www.dot.il.gov/travelstats/1920-2011%20Fatalities.pdf">The statistics compiled from 1920-2011</a> show Illinois&rsquo; traffic fatalities on the whole have been hovering in the low 900&rsquo;s the last couple of years, down from years past. Still, of course there&rsquo;s no reason to celebrate. After all, these figures represent real people who have died, and untold numbers of friends and family who suffer. It&rsquo;s a sobering reminder to stop texting, eating or otherwise drive distracted or impaired.</p><p>Do the signs give you pause? Have they caused you to slow down? Let us know how you feel about them by commenting below. Comments received before 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 10 may be used on air during The Afternoon Shift.&nbsp;</p><p>Thanks goes out to all the curious people who asked a question about the traffic death signs: Juli Walter, Marah, Kate and Anonymous.</p><p><em>Jennifer Brandel is the senior producer of Curious City. Follow her @JenniferBrandel and @WBEZCuriousCity.</em></p></p> Tue, 09 Apr 2013 14:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/deal-those-traffic-death-highway-signs-106569 Thanksgiving traffic deaths down from last year http://www.wbez.org/news/thanksgiving-traffic-deaths-down-last-year-104079 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/traffic signs.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) announced traffic deaths over Thanksgiving weekend decreased 63 percent from last year.</p><p>Provisional data from IDOT&rsquo;s crash information unit reported three traffic deaths compared to eight deaths during the holiday in 2011.</p><p>Mike Claffey, a spokesman for IDOT, said even though traffic deaths are down there&rsquo;s still work to be done.</p><p>&ldquo;This weekend there was three too many crashes and the campaign is to drive the number to zero,&rdquo; Claffey said. &ldquo;We want to keep the pressure on anybody who thinks of driving under the influence and we want to keep reminding folks... buckle up.&rdquo;</p><p>To help cut down on the number of traffic deaths this holiday season, IDOT launched a partnership with law enforcement called the &quot;Drive to Survive&quot; campaign.</p><p>Police will be out in force, pulling drivers over who are not wearing seatbelts and cracking down on drunk driving through the end of the year.</p><p>Claffey said the department has boosted its effort to educate people about driving safety, including highway signs that tally the number of traffic deaths to date this year.</p></p> Wed, 28 Nov 2012 14:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/thanksgiving-traffic-deaths-down-last-year-104079 PACE buses to drive on highway shoulders http://www.wbez.org/story/pace-buses-drive-highway-shoulders-93816 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-07/PACE bus.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>PACE buses will soon be driving on the shoulders of Interstate 55, the Stevenson Expressway, in and around Chicago. The new project is expected to save riders up to a half hour in a round-trip commute.</p><p>Buses can use designated shoulders only during rush hour and only when traffic is moving under 35 miles per hour. Marva Boyd is with the Illinois Department of Transportation. She said the state will use federal money to keep debris clear from the highway and its shoulders.</p><p>"At all times, the shoulders will continue to serve their primary purpose of providing a place for motorists to pull over if necessary - for example in the event of a vehicle breakdown, a flat tire, etc," Boyd said.</p><p>Boyd added that Illinois state police will make sure drivers don't follow buses into the special lane. Two PACE bus routes, route 755 and 855, are scheduled to start using the highway's shoulder on November 14th.</p><p>If the pilot project goes well, transportation officials say they may expand it to other area roadways. The Bus on Shoulder program was chosen to start on this highway because of a $35 million dollar project ending this month that resurfaced the Stevenson Exrepssway and improved its shoulders.</p></p> Mon, 07 Nov 2011 19:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/pace-buses-drive-highway-shoulders-93816 All aboard: Illinois gets moving on high-speed rail http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-01/all-aboard-illinois-gets-moving-high-speed-rail-83168 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/high speed rail London Getty Kitwood.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The governors of Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin have turned down federal funding for high-speed rail service. But in Illinois, the sentiment is&nbsp; &ldquo;All aboard.&rdquo; The proposal for improvements along the Chicago-St. Louis corridor aims to connect arterial regions. And now, the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.dot.state.il.us/">Illinois Department of Transportation</a> is asking for public input on the plans.<a target="_blank" href="http://elpc.org/"><br /><br />The Environmental Law and Policy Center</a> has worked throughout its 15-year history to develop and promote high-speed rail in the Midwest. <a target="_blank" href="http://elpc.org/elpc-staff">Howard Learner</a> is the center&rsquo;s executive director and he joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to share what these meetings hope to accomplish.</p></p> Tue, 01 Mar 2011 14:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-01/all-aboard-illinois-gets-moving-high-speed-rail-83168