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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 2023 Implementation Report.

2024 Call for Projects


The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) in partnership with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) hosted a call for communities to apply for technical assistance, a resource tailored to help them prosper in the years ahead. CMAP is the regional planning organization for northeastern Illinois, serving Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will counties. 

While the CMAP and RTA have separate technical assistance programs, both agencies offered the same online application for applicants to use during the joint call for projects.

This coordinated approach allowed CMAP and RTA to offer planning and implementation assistance to an expanded base of eligible applicants. This effort is aligned with ON TO 2050, the comprehensive plan for northeastern Illinois, as well as Transit is the Answer, the recently updated regional transit strategic plan.

Overview

The purpose of the CMAP Technical Assistance and RTA Community Planning programs is to assist communities with planning and implementation, provide them interagency expertise that can build up their capacity, and help them better leverage the region’s transit network.

2024 Community Planning Program Application Summaries

ApplicantCountyProject TypeDescription
Beverly Area Planning Association

Cook

Corridor PlanThe Beverly Area Planning Association seeks RTA assistance to conduct a corridor study along South Western Avenue from Evergreen Park at 83rd Street to Vermont Street in Blue Island. Jurisdictions included in the study area are the City's of Blue Island and Chicago, the Village of Evergreen Park, and the Illinois Department of Transportation. Pace and CTA both operate bus service along the study area as well as seven routes that cross Western Ave. The goal of this study is to identify opportunities to improve safety, mobility, and economic vitality along the corridor, with special attention to non-motorized access, and mobility and transit improvements. An equitable and multimodal implementation plan is the end goal for the corridor study, identifying upgrades to ADA requirements, improving safety and mobility, consolidating vehicular access, improving pedestrian access to big box retail, improving including signal timing and phasing, expanding access to jobs, education, and healthcare, improving the reliability of transit service, and improving the resiliency of utilities in the study area.
Chicago Department of Planning and Development*CookCorridor PlanThe Chicago Department of Planning and Development seeks assistance to conduct a corridor study of Archer Avenue, from Halsted to Cicero, to evaluate land use, zoning and development opportunities with a focus on areas around the CTA Orange Line stations. The City will use the plan to identify key development opportunities along the corridor, align vision for the corridor with land use and zoning recommendations, and create a strategic implementation plan for the Archer Ave corridor. The study team will include the Chicago Department of Transportation to understand opportunities for enhanced pedestrian mobility and safety, bike lanes and mobility hubs, and ways to leverage the CTA public transit assets. The City desires to increase transportation resilience along the corridor as well as identify strategies to attract investment and encourage transit-oriented development in a way that will attract new retail development and jobs while retaining existing businesses.
Far South CDCCookeTOD PlanThe Far South Community Development Corporation (CDC) seeks RTA assistance to develop a resident-driven eTOD plan in West Pullman, in areas just west of the West Pullman station on the Metra Electric line. The project would identify residential options for qualified buyers and renters seeking to make the neighborhood a destination to raise their families in high quality, transit-friendly housing near amenities that will provide supportive wrap-around educational services to help them achieve their goals. As the residential portion of this area will see an increase in population, the project will also include strategies for the development of complementary commercial and community spaces to house cafes, retail shops, and office space, along with the development of a community park and amphitheater, community welcome center and holistic health center. The plan would also include a transportation section with a focus on understanding what is necessary to increase ridership along the Metra Electric line and how to implement the relevant recommendations identified in the recently completed Major Taylor Trail Framework Plan.
Far South CDCCookMobility HubThe Far South Community Development Corporation (CDC) seeks RTA assistance to develop a resident-driven Mobility Hub plan in West Pullman, in areas just west of the West Pullman station on the Metra Electric line. The project would identify residential options for qualified buyers and renters seeking to make the neighborhood a destination to raise their families in high quality, transit-friendly housing near amenities that will provide supportive wrap-around educational services to help them achieve their goals. As the residential portion of this area will see an increase in population, the project will also include strategies for the development of complementary commercial and community spaces to house cafes, retail shops, and office space, along with the development of a community park and amphitheater, community welcome center and holistic health center. The plan would address the primary concerns of bicycle access to transit as well as storage near transit, pedestrian infrastructure, and the need for a Mobility Hub to facilitate multi-modal transfers
Garfield Park Right to Wellness CollaborativeCookCorridor PlanThe Collaborative seeks RTA assistance to conduct a corridor study along portions of Madison Ave. in the City of Chicago, in the communities of East Garfield Park and West Garfield Park. The priority outcomes of the study are to broaden diversity in housing choices, attract investment and development and encourage transit-oriented development. The Collaborative seeks to identify transportation strategies that improve ADA accessibility and bicycle and pedestrian facilities while addressing sidewalk gaps along Madison. Economic strategies for the corridor are to attract new retail development and new jobs while retaining the existing businesses along the corridor.
Hazel CrestCookeTOD PlanThe Village Hazel Crest seeks RTA support to develop an eTOD Plan for areas west of the Hazel Crest Metra station, leveraging the transportation assets in the area to balance investment and begin to deliver community benefits through greater pedestrian, bicycle and commuter activity. The Village would use a new plan to coordinate Village, County, state and federal resources for the station area, which has experienced disinvestment relative to the rest of Hazel Crest. Having TOD related investment would also further Village goals to create an Arts District in the study area, with programming and related building improvements to Village-owned vacant buildings, with the intension to convert into an adaptive reuse as a Center for the Arts. Improved pedestrian walkability and added bicyclist safety installments would benefit artists and the overall residential and commuter base living near the Hazel Crest Metra station. Lastly, the Village would like to identify further investment in the area for higher density, high quality multi-family workforce housing that would serve a number of workers with high quality housing near the Metra station, with quality amenities at a reasonable price point that does not exist today.
ItascaCookSpecial Financing DistrictThe Village of Itasca is at the outset of exploring more complex financial incentives for development, and they seek RTA assistance through a Financing Study to provide a strong foundation upon which future successes could occur. The goal of the study is to ensure the Village has well thought out financial incentives to match regulatory updates and private investments that will help to bring the Downtown Itasca Strategic Action Plan into reality. In addition to a broader look at tools to facilitate economic development, the Village seeks assistance in crafting an effective TIF application and guidelines, in addition to facade program guidelines. The study area encompasses the established Downtown North TIF District, which generally encompasses the parcels on the north side of Irving Park Road in Itasca from Interstate 290 on the west to Rush Street on the east, which includes parcels surrounding the Itasca Metra station.
ItascaCookZoning Code AmendmentsThe Village of Itasca seeks RTA support for zoning code updates that will allow the types of development envisioned in the Village's adopted Downtown Itasca Strategic Action Plan, completed through the RTA's Community Planning program. The Village's existing code needs modifications to modernize the code to better align with best practices and other Village initiatives. Zoning amendments will be centered on downtown Itasca and areas surrounding the Itasca Metra station, and will include such tasks as drafting tables for dimensional standards as well as uses, address parking ratios for mixed use developments, develop unified design guidelines for Downtown Itasca, as well as develop specific guidelines for the Itasca Historic District.
LaGrange*CookCorridor PlanThe Village of La Grange seeks RTA assistance to conduct a study or the South La Grange Road corridor, from 47th Street to the Village limits at Plainfield Road, bringing equity to this section of La Grange Road, and making the entire La Grange corridor more cohesive through the entire Village. The Village intends to make this street more friendly for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users, many of whom have stated they have fears walking and biking to nearby downtown, even though it is only a short distance, due to safety concerns and a lack of infrastructure. The goals of the study include strategies to complete gaps in the sidewalk network, upgrade facilities to ADA standards, identify needed streetscape improvements, improve access for pedestrians and transit users to the commercial, retail and housing units along the corridor, and re-balance auto-oriented nature of La Grange Road that exists today.
LockportWilleTOD PlanThe City of Lockport seeks RTA assistance to develop an eTOD Plan for the downtown area of Lockport including the area surrounding the Lockport Metra station. The study area encompasses the National Historic District, future growth areas south of the Metra station, north to connect with the Star Innovation District and a changing neighborhood east to Madison, inclusive of the Freshman Center in the historic Central High School. The goals with the new plan would be to update the original 2009 downtown plan to reflect the changes that have occurred over the past 15 years in the central downtown and extend the study area south to capture the underserved Fairmount area and the Taft School District. Both areas are heavily reliant on residential tax dollars which have been lacking. The City would like to build off continued success in the central downtown to identify the future for some legacy properties that could be improved and generate additional revenue in the southern portions of the study area. The City would like to extend the plan north to contemplate changes that will occur as a result of the Star Innovation District and the frontage along State Street on both the east and west sides of the street.
Maywood*CookCorridor PlanThe Village of Maywood seeks RTA assistance to conduct a study of the Roosevelt Road corridor in southern portions of the Village, from 1st Avenue on the east to 13th Avenue on the west. The goal of the Roosevelt Road Corridor plan is to identify immediate, near term and long-term opportunities for, as well as the feasibility of a number of economic development projects including, the potential for infill housing, mixed-use development, and the bolstering of commercial development along the corridor. Additionally, they seek to improve the curb appeal and pedestrian access to transit, businesses, and the Hines VA Hospital, Madden Mental Health Center, and Loyola's Medical campus. By partnering with adjacent villages, institutions, and stakeholders the Village will be able to better to coordinate a more detailed plan for the corridor's future, creating a more accessible and safe environment for the community.
Morton GroveCookCorridor PlanThe Village of Morton Grove seeks RTA assistance to develop the Dempster Street Corridor Plan. The study area would travel the length of Dempster Street from Central Avenue on the east to Harlem Ave on the west, within the Village limits. Over the past two decades, major shifts in transportation infrastructure, demographics, the environment, and the economy have affected the established Dempster Street corridor and produced new challenges. An updated Dempster Street Corridor Plan will help Morton Grove respond to those shifts and address emerging issues head-on. The recent addition of Pace’s Pulse bus rapid transit service have improved Dempster Street’s function as an efficient transportation corridor. However, issues related to shallow lot depth, access management, evolving parking needs, and adjacency to established single-family neighborhoods have hindered the corridor’s ability to function as an economic engine for the community. The Corridor Plan is needed to provide a cohesive vision for Dempster Street that identifies parking solutions, leverages and connects transit assets, expands retail and employment-generating development, and identifies complementary opportunities for new housing. The Village desires a new vision for the Dempster Street corridor to encourage reinvestment, support existing and future business, and provide needed services and amenities to the community. In addition, the Village hopes to broaden diversity in housing choices along the corridor, attract investment and development, and better manage parking.
Mount Sinai Hospital Medical CenterCookMobility HubThe Medical Center seeks RTA assistance to develop a Mobility Hub in the vicinity of Ogden Avenue and California to broaden transportation connections and access to safe transit connections. The objective is to create safer travel in the form of bike paths, safer crosswalks, ADA accessibility, signage, lighting, protection from vehicular threats, vehicle speed restriction, and safer pedestrian access to transit services, Douglass Park, the hospital, schools, other major Chicago employers in the nearby area. Components of the Mobility Hub could include bicycle storage near transit stops, connections to bicyclist infrastructure (trails, paths, lanes, etc.), improved facilities for multi-modal transfers, better pedestrian infrastructure (sidewalks, crossings, etc.), and access to shared parking and electric vehicle charging stations.
Palos ParkCookTransportation Safety Plan (Neighborhood Mobility Improvement Plan)The Village of Palos Park seeks RTA assistance to improve transit access for people walking and biking in the area centered on Southwest Highway and its intersections with Timber Lane and 121st Street, in Palos Park. The proposed study area includes the Palos Park Metra Station, the northerly access of which is off of 121st Street. The Village goals are to identify strategies for pedestrian, bicycle, and ADA compliant crossings, redesign problematic intersections, and identify and propose solutions for gaps in the bicycle network.
Pingree GroveKaneSpecial Financing District

Pingree Grove seeks RTA assistance to conduct a TIF eligibility study in their Heritage District, which is the oldest section of the community, with homes over 100 years old, and in need of redevelopment and accessibility improvements. If eligibility is determined and a TIF district is put into place, the Village would like to use the funds for such tasks as public infrastructure improvements, beautification, transportation/pedestrian accessibility improvements, and land acquisition and other economic development efforts.

Redline Extension TIF CoalitionCookeTOD PlanThe Coalition seeks RTA assistance to conduct an equitable Transit-Oriented Development plan in the Riverdale community area, with a focus on the CTA's future 130th Street Red Line station. The goals of the plan are to improve pedestrian friendly designs at intersections and identify zoning changes the Coalition desires of the City.
Round LakeLakeDeveloper DialoguesThe Village seeks RTA assistance to conduct a Developer Dialogue to solicit feedback from members of the private development community on Village strategies to attract development at seven Village-owned parcels in the downtown area near the Round Lake Metra station. The developer dialogue would be a follow-on activity to implementing the Village's Comprehensive and Downtown Plans. The Village has enhanced motivation to sell and approve development of the Village owned properties that have been vacant and under Village control for many years, and seeks a refined strategy in doing so.
Sustainable Englewood InitiativesCookeTOD PlanSustainable Englewood Initiatives seeks RTA assistance with completing a equitable Transit-Oriented Development Plan for the 63rd and Ashland Green Line station area in Chicago's Englewood community. Goals for the study include identifying strategies to improve walkability and transit accessibility in the area, repurposing large lots and parking lots under the L structure, and for commercial building renovations to encourage mixed-use near the station.
The Southwest CollectiveCookeTOD PlanThe Southwest Collective seeks RTA assistance with completing an equitable Transit-Oriented Development Plan for the Pulaski Orange Line station area, as well as for points north along Pulaski to 47th Street. The Collective hopes hope to identify opportunities for residential, commercial, and community-centered development along the major arterial streets closest to the Orange Line station. Additional goals for the planning process are to deliver a vision for walkable, pedestrian-friendly, community-oriented, and culturally appropriate development to serve the residents in Chicago's Archer Heights community.
Waukegan Port DistrictLakeDeveloper DialoguesThe Waukegan Port District seeks a Developer Dialogue through the RTA as support to implement the Waukegan Port District Master Plan. The Master Plan includes various concepts for redevelopment Port District land, 1/10th of a mile from the Waukegan Metra station and several Pace bus routes, to improve the economic vitality of the waterfront and to better connect the waterfront to transit services and downtown Waukegan. Through a dialogue with developers, the Port District seeks to identify the most beneficial and impactful method to develop the site and to gather strategies in creating and implementing the developer selection process.
WheelingLakeNeighborhood Mobility Improvement PlanThe Village of Wheeling seeks RTA assistance to complete a Neighborhood Mobility Improvement Plan to identify strategies that increase mobility and transit accessibility in the Wheeling Town Center area. This plan would be an implementation task of the Village's Active Transportation Plan completed through the Chicago Metropolitan Agency on Planning, with goals to better connect the Village of Wheeling transportation assets with recently completed affordable workforce housing, the Town Center, and Heritage Park. Accessibility improvements will have a focus on the Wheeling Metra station and Pace Route 234 along Dundee Road.

*CMAP and RTA are reviewing concurrently and will determine which agency is most appropriate after further conversations with the applicants.


2024 Transit Station Activation Applications

ApplicantLocationDescription
Chicago Film ArchivesCTA - Cicero Green LineCFA is seeking funds for a two-pronged activation effort, one part that is already active today and a second, new activation. 
1. CFA would like to research and identify families with home movies who live in the West Garfield Park community. These home movies would be projected inside the street-level mezzanine of the Cicero Green line station where CFA installed projection equipment in 2023. Movies that portray local families will encourage travel and bring excitement and acknowledgement to the lives of people in the neighborhood. CFA will digitize their home movies and add them to the collection that already exists today. 
2. CFA would like to replicate it's efforts on the north side with the installation of a second projection system at the Howard Red Line station. This task include curating and editing content for project, much like the efforts in task 1.
Duo DevelopmentCTA - Route 18Duo Development is seeking $20,000 to install an art installation in partnership with local youth on a vacant parcel they own at the intersection of 16th Street and Sawyer Avenue in North Lawndale. They are currently developing a new commercial building at this address, which will be a new neighborhood amenity offering a cafe and other local programming. The intersection is located one block away from the 16th Street bus stop at North Lawndale College Prep, and a 10 minute walk away from the Kedzie Pink Line station. The project aims to bring awareness of all of these modes of transportation in relation to the new building. Working with youth at local high schools, they would like to install a small sculpture at the vacant lot and paint markers from the intersection to the three stops to encourage the public to use those modes of transit. Once the building opens in September of 2024, they would like to pass out flyers and information to residents of North Lawndale about how they can access these transit services, ideally using color coded diagrams that relate to the site activations painted on the sidewalk for people to follow. They would also like to install colorful benches at each stop, with QR codes that people can follow to get more information about transit.
EquiticityCTA - Central Park and Pulaski Pink LineEquiticity seeks funding to conduct a community outreach event and exhibit where members of the community will have the opportunity to express their concerns through surveys, learn more about the current transportation system challenges, and be enlightened on community assets available to them. The event will be held at the Central Park and Pulaski Pink Line stations where the applicant will invite the general public to participate in activities such as data collection around their opinions of Chicago transit systems, health screenings, entertainment, community discussions and refreshments.
GardeneersCTA - 63rd and Cottage GroveGardeneers seeks funding to execute a plant-based pop-up festival on a vacant lot (1000 E. 63rd) adjacent to the 63rd and Cottage Grove Green Line station that aims to showcase the impact of plant-based foods, urban agriculture, biomaterials, and sustainability on individuals' health and the ecosystem. The plant-based pop-up festival will bring together organizations and individuals who are at the forefront of the plant-based movement to showcase their work in an engaging and interactive setting. Through a variety of activities, presentations, and demonstrations, the festival will educate and inspire attendees about the benefits of plant-based living and sustainable practices. Festival components include hands-on gardening sessions to explore urban agriculture practices, a handpicked selection of plant-based products and local artisan goods for sale, musical performances, food, and giveaways.
HAIBAYO CaresCTA - Argyle Red LineThe applicant seeks funding to support the annual Argyle Mid-Autumn Moon Festival which will take place on Argyle Street, from Broadway to Winthrop Ave, near the Argyle Red Line station. Funding will be used to host this festival consisting of cultural performances, arts and crafts vendors, and multi-cultural, multi-generational programming. The main purpose behind this festival is to culturally share stories, traditions, and heritage, that creates lasting community impact.
Highland Park

Metra - Highland Park and Pace

The City seeks funding to hold two new community events at their event venue called "The Lot", located at 525 Central Ave, which a 4 minute walk (0.2 mi) north from the Highland Park Metra station.
Project 1 will be a music festival headlining music from the 70s, 80s, and 90s through a selection of live performances and food and beverage vendors. The festival, "Decades of Music" will include an interactive trail through downtown Highland Park businesses. 
Project 2 will be a Scarecrow Fest, allowing participants to celebrate Fall with scarecrow-themed family fun, kids' actives, and seasonal decor. The event will include a "Scarecrow Walk" to see festive scarecrows decorated by local businesses, with votes being cast for best in show.
Loyola UniversityCTA - Routes 136, 147, and 151The University seeks funding to host a movie night at the St. Ignatius Community Plaza (6300 N Kenmore) the entrance to which is directly adjacent to CTA bus stops for routes 136, 147 and 151 on Sheridan Road. The University hosted "Movie on the Plaza" nights prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and desires RTA funding to resume the outdoor event. The funding will be used for film equipment rental, set up and tear down, the purchase of film showing rights, refreshments (water, popcorn, snacks, etc.), student support (4 students @ 15/hr. for 4 hours), and $500 in giveaways.
Mandala - DevonCTA - Loyola Red Line and Route 155Mandala seeks funding to conduct two transit music crawls as part of the annual Mandala Makers Festival. The two sessions, each lasting three hours, will take place at the Loyola Red Line station and continue along CTA Route 155 on Devon Ave., stopping at four major bus stops, Sheridan, Clark, Rockwell, and Kedzie. At each of the chosen bus stops musicians will be seated playing fusion music from South Asian, African American, Thai, Middle Eastern musical genres, reflecting Devon’s multiculturalism. The performance would be open to the general public, passersby and an invited audience. Members of the public traveling eastbound and westbound will be able to start the transit crawl from either point, break in the middle, or stop by to watch a single performance. On the window of each bus shelter and seats inside the bus, audience members would find a QR code, leading them to a webpage with a map and information on the transit crawl. Performance times would be 7-10 am and 3-6pm.
Mandala - Red LineCTA - Various Red Line stationsMandala seeks funding for four interactive live music and dance performances at selected Red Line stations that would be tailored to reflect the unique cultural identity of the neighborhood and the diversity of the city of Chicago. At each selected station, Mandala would present one live musician that represents the neighborhood and two musicians that reflect other cultural neighborhoods along the Red Line. In this way, riders will become acquainted with the neighborhoods they pass by in their local community, and locals will get to appreciate the vibrant diversity of the city they live in. Art has the power to foster mutual respect and understanding, which would permit commuters to feel safer about gathering at the CTA stations. In addition to live music at the stations, Mandala proposes to have QR codes on the train and at each of the stops that link commuters to artists and stories from the neighborhood so that they may learn more about diverse groups in Chicago. Potential station locations include Howard, Morse, Argyle, Belmont, Roosevelt, Chinatown, and Garfield. The musicians would play on a weekday in September at times coinciding with the morning and evening rush hours, from 7-9am and 3-7pm.
Mary Crane LeagueCTA - various locationsMary Crane seeks funding for four afternoon activation projects to take place at the CTA stops near their early childhood education sites where they offer full-day Head Start, early Head Start, Childcare, and Home-Based services. The sites are located near the Pulaski Green Line station, Division and Lamon (Route 70), Leavitt north of Diversey (Route 76), and on Ashland at Morse. Funding will be used for a DJ, group Zumba and dance lessons, nutritional education materials, food and beverage, rental chairs and tables, a bounce house, marketing, staffing.
Maywood Chamber of CommerceMetra - Maywood and PaceThe Chamber seeks funding to host an event in June or August that celebrates Maywood's historical and cultural treasures and underscores their accessibility by transit. This would be a three-pronged event centered on the Maywood Metra station along with nearby Pace bus service on 5th Ave. The first is a guided tour, via walking or trolley-car, around the various sites that spanMaywood Park from First Avenue to Fifth Avenue. The tour will acquaint visitors and residents with the rich and unique historical offerings in and around Maywood Park. Next, various institutions in Maywood's Arts and Cultural District will host an open house where residents and visitors can learn about their respective offerings. The Maywood Chamber of Commerce will be the host organization and use the occasion to promote its services and the goods and services of its members. The third and final aspect of the event will be a musical performance conducted by Working-In-Concert (WIC), a Chicago-based musical organization that promotes cultural education and diversity through musical performances. WIC has agreed to provide a two-hour concert that will align with the theme of taking rails to gain freedom and opportunity.
MetraMetra - various locationsMetra seeks funding to hold community celebrations with the completion of station reconstruction projects at various locations. These activities will commemorate the opening of one new station and the re-opening of several stations that had extensive rehabilitation. Components of the events could include coffee and donuts, food vendors, live music using local musicians, face painting, clowns and balloon artists, safety presentations, children's games and activities, meet and greet booths with community organizations or elected officials, Instagram-like photo opportunities, educational information from transit ambassadors, poetry readings and promotional giveaways.
PaceMetra - Joliet and PacePace, in partnership with the City of Joliet, seek funding to host an event at the new Pace Transit Center within the Joliet Gateway Center. Specific activities are to be determined but the event will be linked to one of the City's summer 2024 festivals.
Palenque LSNACTA - Logan Square Blue LinePalenque seeks $5000 per month towards programming at Logan Square Blue Line where they plan to uplift Logan Square's historic immigrant Hispanic community to create a safe and welcoming train station that fosters a sense of belonging. Various activities will take place 1-2 times per week and could include music performances, street theater, small vendor markets, participatory art making, all with the goal to have free and welcoming programming for all members of the community.
Rogers Park Business Alliance - HowardCTA - Howard Red LineThe Alliance seeks funding to commission two professional chalk artists to create interactive 3D chalk drawings on the sidewalks near the Howard Street station entrances. The Project will occur on the two days prior to the Fourth Annual Chalk Howard Street Festival on Saturday August 24. Community residents, transit users and visitors will be able to watch each artist create their illustrations on the sidewalk during the day, and can pose for interactive pictures in and with the art upon its completion.
Rogers Park Business Alliance - LoyolaCTA - Loyola Red Line and Route 147The Alliance seeks funding to hire local bands to perform at the Loyola CTA station plaza and on patios of several businesses located near CTA Route 147 bus stops on Sheridan Rd. from 6-8pm on four different Friday evenings. Access to the performances will be free and open to the public and the applicant will provide limited seating and refreshments, such as water and popcorn, for attendees and participants. The June 7th date will celebrate the first day of summer vacation for CPS students and will focus on programming for children and families, potentially including a bounce castle at the Loyola station plaza. The privately-owned plazas and patios on Sheridan Rd. are located near bus stops at Pratt, Columbia, and North Shore.
Uptown United - LawrenceCTA - Lawrence Red Line and Route 36Uptown United seeks funding to hold free weekly yoga sessions on Saturday mornings and free outdoor music performances on Thursday evenings. The free outdoor yoga will occur on open and accessible section of private property adjacent to the Lawrence Red Line station, and the free outdoor music performances will occur at the Racine Plaza stage outside Riviera Theater on Broadway, adjacent to a southbound bus stop servicing Routes 36 and 81. Weekly yoga would cost $250 per session, or $1,000 a month, as would the weekly music performances, costing $250 per session, or $1,000 a month. The Alliance has a history of putting on these events but has experienced a lack of funding to continue.
Uptown United - WilsonCTA - Wilson Red Line and Routes 78 and 81Uptown United seeks funding to support the 10-year anniversary of their Winter Walk on Wilson annual event that takes place along Wilson Avenue between Sheridan Rd. and Clark St. in Uptown. With the requested funding they would like to create an exciting and memorable winter activation at the Wilson CTA Station complete with live performances, family-friendly activities, and vendor opportunities for artists, makers, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations. The funds would be used for securing performers, marketing, printing, a photographer, giveaways to incentivize attendance, event production and planning, security, CTA Right of Entry fee, and for portable toilets and sinks.



Timeline for 2024 call

Date

Action

February 26, 2024

Application period opens

March 22, 2024

Application period closes at 12 noon

April thru May 2024

CMAP and RTA review applications

Early June 2024

Awardees announced

Project Types

What types of assistance does the RTA provide?

Below is a list of the eligible types of RTA assistance available for the call for projects.

Equitable Transit-Oriented Development Plans

Equitable Transit-Oriented Development Plans (eTOD) are based on the basic tenets of transit-oriented development, with mixed land uses, higher residential densities, and pedestrian friendly environments. eTOD plans move beyond traditional TOD plans by ensuring an equitable planning process that listens to the voices of all those impacted, considers a range of diverse housing types with a focus on affordability and including a focus on racial equity. 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.

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 access to transit.

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 in transit served areas 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 funding 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 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. These sessions most commonly take place after a planning study, such as an eTOD plan, has been completed, but can also occur during the larger planning process.

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.

Transit Station Activation Projects – A NEW RTA Pilot Project for 2024

To support implementation of Transit Is The Answer and the RTA’s Safety and Security Summit, the 2024 call for projects piloted a new category, Transit Station Activations. Under this category funding will be made available to cover the costs related to rail station and bus stop activation projects and activities aimed at bringing a temporary, increased presence of people to transit stations and stops as a solution to real or perceived public safety concerns. It is envisioned these projects and activities will be simple, short-term actions occurring for a few hours over the course of 1-2 days that will bring residents, transit riders and visitors to the area to experience the activation project. Read more about this new type of assistance from RTA.

While all communities were eligible and encouraged to apply, communities in cohorts 1 and 2 will receive priority consideration when evaluating applications for site planning pilot assistance.

People dining on outdoor patios in a downtown, including someone with a bicycle pulling a trailer.
Icon Community Planning rv

RTA Announces 2023 Community Planning Program of Projects

Six new projects chosen from among 11 applications submitted to the RTA’s Community Planning Program, described below.

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.

ApplicantProject Type

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.


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