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Community planning

The RTA Community Planning program provides funding and technical assistance to local governments to help foster the growth of sustainable, equitable, walkable, and transit-friendly communities. Since 1998, we have completed more than 200 projects. Read the latest success stories in the 2021 Implementation Report.

The RTA has announced the selected projects for the 2023 Community Planning Program of Projects. Read more about the projects and submit a comment below.

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RTA Announces Public Comment Period for 2023 Community Planning Program of Projects

The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) announces the opening of the public comment period for six projects chosen from among 11 applications submitted to the RTA’s Community Planning Program during a solicitation September 26 through October 14, 2022. The applications were vetted by a project selection team composed of staff from the RTA which interviewed applicants and obtained feedback from the RTA Service Boards (CTA, Metra and Pace) as well as other partners and technical assistance providers.

Since 1998, the RTA’s Community Planning program has provided funding and technical assistance for transit-oriented planning and implementation initiatives with local partners throughout the six-county service area. The goal is to foster the growth of sustainable, equitable, walkable, and transit-friendly communities around transit assets by encouraging transit-supportive land uses and infrastructure. The program aids local economic development by increasing equitable access to employment centers and amenities to serve the constantly evolving needs of our diverse population. 

Eligible activities for applicants to the 2023 program include transit-oriented development (TOD) plans, transit corridor plans, TOD zoning code updates, TOD developer dialogues, mobility hub and transit neighborhood mobility improvement plans, plans to develop special funding districts in transit areas, and curb management studies.

The six projects recommended are described below. Comments on these projects may be submitted to applications@rtachicago.org through February 3, 2023 or on the comment form on this page. The final 2023 Community Planning program of projects will be announced February 16 at the RTA Board of Directors meeting.


Applicant

Project Type

Project Description

Des Plaines

Developer Dialogue

The City requests a Developer Dialogue be convened to assist its efforts with attracting transit- oriented development (TOD) at the intersection of Lee and Oakton Streets, as identified in the 2019 Des Plaines Comprehensive Plan. The goal of the developer discussion is to provide direct insight to local public officials and landowners on the current market for development within the study area and ways in which the City can attract reinvestment adjacent to the Pace Pulse Dempster Line stations.

Equiticity

Mobility Hub

Equiticity, and independent nonprofit 501(c)(3), requests assistance to advance development of a community mobility center in Bronzeville, near the 51st Street Green Line station. The RTA will assist with identifying community perceptions of existing public transit; with understanding transportation’s impact on environment & personal wellbeing; with gauging the receptivity to climate-friendly mobility modes, gauging the demand for shared bikes, e-bikes, e-scooters & e-vehicles, and with obtaining feedback on design and implementation of the hub and its services.

Geneva

Special Financing District

The City requests assistance with establishing a special financing district to implement recommendations contained in the Downtown Station-Area Master Plan. An existing Special Service Area (SSA) is in place but set to expire in 2023. The RTA will assist the City to determine whether to extend and expand the scope of the SSA and/or create a different funding source, funding generated from which would work to implement plan recommendations.

Joliet

TOD Plan

The City requests assistance to develop a TOD plan for areas of downtown adjacent to the Joliet Gateway Center, a hub for Amtrak, Metra and Pace services. The goals of the TOD plan are to create housing opportunities adjacent to public transportation that are not currently available in the downtown; increase ridership on existing public transportation routes; spur new investment in the adjacent neighborhood, including underutilized commercial buildings on Washington Street; utilize existing city-owned parking lots for shared parking opportunities; transition publicly owned land into the private sector to generate property tax revenues; and increase and stabilize property values in the immediate area.

Riverdale

Mobility and TOD Plan

The Village requests RTA assistance to complete a Mobility Improvement and TOD Action Plan in transit served areas of the Village. The study area includes the 138th Street corridor, Riverdale and Ivanhoe Metra Station areas, S. Halsted Street and S. Indiana Ave. The planning efforts will also incorporate special considerations for current ADA specific infrastructure needs and outline funding opportunities the Village can pursue. The goals for this study include creating specific steps to improve access to all modes of transit within the Village, enhancing safety for residents of all abilities, identifying transit-oriented development opportunities, and creating a guide to secure implementation funding for the Village.

University Park

Special Financing District

The Village of University Park requests assistance with identifying a financial strategy to implement the recommendations contained in their newly completed TOD Plan. The RTA will assist the Village with analyzing the plan recommendations, reviewing funding and financing options to spur investment, and recommend a financial strategy that will position the Village for future development at the University Park Metra station.

To learn more about the types of projects selected in the 2022 Call for Projects, read a memo.

Submit a Comment

Comment on the selected projects above by February 3, 2023.

A Metra train with a railroad crossing signal and sign and a dense development across the street.

What types of assistance does the RTA provide?

New projects selected as part of the 2023 Program will be supported by enhanced efforts to obtain as much engagement with residents and community stakeholders as possible. Community engagement efforts for 2023 projects will be guided by new inclusive and equitable strategies developed by the RTA. To decrease barriers to community engagement among residents in moderate to very high need communities and optimize our efforts for creating a plan with the most benefit to the community, residents and the transit system, compensation for time and expenses will be made available to some community members. This will help remove barriers to participating in the planning process for some community members whose voices and opinions are important, but who may not have otherwise been able to participate due to transportation expenses, childcare or family responsibilities or work obligations.

Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) plans

TOD plans are based on the basic tenets of transit-oriented development, with mixed land uses, higher residential densities, and pedestrian friendly environments. These plans produce recommendations for an appropriate mix of land uses and transportation improvements to support increased transit ridership within a quarter- to half-mile radius of a rail station or major bus station. They also address urban design elements, including streetscape improvements, and recommend multi modal mobility improvements to and within the station area. Emphasis is placed on an equitable planning process, encouraging improved or increased access to both housing and jobs near transit, the identification of the health benefits of implementing TOD plan recommendations, and an in-depth understanding of the parking utilization in the study area.

Transit corridor plans

Transit-specific corridor plans develop recommendations for transit-served corridors to enhance local mobility, and further advance transit-supportive land use and development guidelines along the corridor or study area. These plans can identify ways to improve multi-modal access to existing or planned transit routes and facilities, and identify opportunities to enhance transit-related infrastructure. Transit-focused plans can also identify options to improve "last-mile" and non-traditional commuter needs by recommending improved connections among the transit services used by reverse commuters, and by identifying increased roles that employers can take to improve transit opportunities within the study area. Planning for vulnerable populations, identifying innovative ways to include economically disconnected residents, and/or studying areas that have experienced disinvestment is highly encouraged. The RTA encourages transit corridor plans to be multi-jurisdictional and have a study area that crosses through two or more adjoining municipalities. The types of plans accepted in 2023 are described below.

Neighborhood mobility hubs and mobility improvement plans

Municipalities and transit riders are increasingly searching for multi-modal ways to travel with seamless connections between modes. Creating a regional network of bus and mobility hubs could also balance out the downtown Chicago focus of the region’s rail system, keeping transit competitive as travel patterns continue its shift since 2020. Municipalities can work towards that end by examining the feasibility of Mobility Hubs at key transit areas and creating conceptual Mobility Hub site plans at transit hubs. Doing so brings multiple modes of transportation together, encourages seamless multi-modal travel and promotes the use of active and micro modes of travel. Municipalities can also plan to widen bicycle lanes and pedestrian sidewalks, re-think roadway rights of way, and restrict vehicular speeds. Identifying these improvements in areas served by transit will further support transit’s future comeback.

Curb management studies

As people use shared rides more often and continue to shop virtually, the need to rethink parking and curb management in urban areas, especially along bus routes and near rail stations, continues. The RTA will partner with local governments to study curb space along bus corridors to understand utilization and demand. Results will then inform our partners on strategies to manage high demand curb space, which could include zones for various uses, shared-use zones depending on time of day and strategies to better facilitate bus passenger stops.

Special financing districts

The RTA will assist transit-served municipalities with planning for a special financing district in their community, such as a tax increment finance district, special service area, and business development district. Funding generated from these districts/areas can be used to implement recommendations from transit-oriented development, corridor, or other municipal plans.

Developer dialogues

RTA assistance, in partnership with the Urban Land Institute, will be provided to solicit guidance and advice from development experts through a half-day discussion panel. Panelists and municipal leaders discuss the development climate and potential strategies to prepare for and attract development in a specific subarea, along a corridor, or at a specific site.

Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) zoning code updates

The RTA will assist local government staff to create development standards and review processes that make investment in the community more attractive to potential developers, business owners, and residents seeking to improve their property. The project team will assess the current regulations and existing conditions in the community and deliver a revised zoning ordinance, subdivision ordinance, unified development ordinance, overlay district, or other appropriate document.

Contact Michael Horsting (horstingm@rtachicago.org) with any questions.

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