RTA Community Planning program begins new projects in Chicago, suburbs

November 18, 2021

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The RTA Community Planning program began work on four new projects recently, each with the goal of helping improve quality of life by addressing local planning needs at the intersection of transit and land use. The program, first established in 1998, has supported more than 200 projects by encouraging increased walkability, transit access, and transit use.

Recent projects include:

31st Street Corridor Study

The RTA is partnering with the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Sam Schwartz Engineering to study the 31st Street corridor in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood and recommend solutions to challenges the area residents face with proximity to industrial development, heavy truck traffic, and access to transit.

The study area, which includes 31st Street between Sacramento and Kilbourn Avenues connects people to three CTA rail lines via a local bus route. Data shows that between 13,000 and 17,000 vehicles use 31st Street daily and six to eight percent of those vehicles are trucks, leading to community concerns about air quality and noise pollution. The project team will study existing conditions to understand challenges and opportunities, conduct field visits and engage the community, while also studying similar corridors in other cities for relevant strategies.

The final plan will offer solutions to improve the safety of walking and biking conditions and access to transit along truck corridors in Little Village and throughout Chicago.

The project is expected to be completed in May 2022.

DuPage County Mobility Services Plan

The RTA is partnering with DuPage County, Metra, Pace, and planning consultant the Lakota Group to complete a county-wide Mobility Services Plan to guide future improvements and help residents better understand their mobility options. The plan will focus on accessibility, transit ridership, connections between transportation modes, and ways to connect riders between transit and their final destinations.

Beginning in Spring 2021, the project team is conducting extensive public engagement to understand gaps in the county’s transportation network. Asking residents questions like "Can a person walk or bike to a convenience store?" or "After disembarking from a fixed route or from Metra, can a person reach their destination safely?" led the team to explore strategies to improve mobility moving forward. The final DuPage County Mobility Services Plan will include a public Mobility Guide that simply explains all mobility options in the county relying heavily on maps and graphics rather than text.

The project is expected to be completed in May 2022. Learn more about the plan on the DuPage County Mobility Plan website.

Village of Elburn TOD Plan

The RTA is partnering with the Village of Elburn, Teska Associates, Sam Schwartz, and Egret + Ox Consulting to complete a Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) plan to improve connections between the Metra station and the community’s downtown area along Route 47.

Over the summer and early fall, the project began with extensive community engagement through public and virtual events. The project will include a market analysis to understand realistic development expectations for the community, evaluate market conditions, land use patterns, and zoning regulations, to illustrate the potential of various development sites. A connectivity analysis will study how to make travel between Elburn’s Main Street and the Metra station more seamless than it is today.

The final plan will include a vision for the area surrounding the Metra station, land use recommendations, opportunities for business growth, streetscape and wayfinding enhancements, and  strategies to develop a potential park or green space that will include improvements to the pedestrian and bicycle network in town.

The plan is expected to be completed in Spring 2022. Learn more about the plan on the Elburn Connects website.

City of Harvey TOD Plan

The RTA is partnering with the City of Harvey and Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill (SOM) to develop a TOD plan for the community’s downtown, which is home to a Metra station and Pace Transportation Center.

The project will include a transportation and transit assessment, conducted by HNTB, and a real estate assessment by Valerie Kretchmer Associates and the Urban Land Institute. Those assessments will help the project team identify and illustrate concepts for specific sites that have the potential to meet residential, retail, office, entertainment, and institutional demands near transit.

The final plan will include concepts for strengthening the office and retail environment along 154th Street and recommendations to improve active and green spaces for residents, including a possible plaza outside the Harvey Metra station. It will also provide development and redevelopment scenarios near transit with information on incentives and programs that can help the southern Cook County suburb implement the plan.

The project is expected to be completed in Summer 2022.

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