Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Chicago's Mayor Takes on Congestion

Fran Spielman of the Chicago Sun-Times has an interesting article on the plan that Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley unveiled yesterday to reduce congestion in the city.

A combination of bureaucratic shuffling, 2,800 "smart traffic signals" that respond to traffic flows and give buses more time to get through intersections, and more vigilant towing of parking violators made up the highlights of the plan.

Relying on Federal matching grants, the plan is likely to cost anywhere between $210 million to $700 million over two decades.

According to Daley's press release, the city looked to cities such as Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta, and London for ideas regarding improving congestion. Of course, one must wonder why in the world some of the United States' most severely congested cities are serving as models for Chicago! London is an important city for Chicago to study. However, London's most innovative policy development--the congestion charge--apparently wasn't considered by Daley.

Also curiously absent was a discussion of improving the city's rapid transit system, operated by the Chicago Transit Authority. Perhaps the controversy currently underway regarding the CTA's decision to temporarily shut the Brown Line made this issue unappealing for Daley who has remained relatively silent on the issue.

It is quite a shame that rapid transit is not part of this equation to relieve congestion given the fact that Chicago's density and current land use policies could support an integrative strategy without too much fiscal pain.

There is also very innovative thinking going on amongst Chicagoans on ways to improve mobility in the city. One of the more interesting examples is Craig Berman's CTA Map for 2055.

(Linked to Outside the Beltway)