Bicyclists and pedestrians cruising down Chicago’s 18-mile Lakefront Trail generally enjoy an exceptionally open, continuous and scenic path along Lake Michigan. But near Navy Pier they’re shunted inland, underneath a highway, onto sidewalks and through road crossings that interrupt their journey in the middle of one of the popular pathway's most congested corridors. The Navy Pier Flyover, announced in 2011, was designed to remedy that situation, and today Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the project has officially broken ground. Though it won’t be fully open until 2018, work began on schedule for the portion of the pathway between Jane Adams Park and the Ogden Slip. The first phase of construction has a budget of $22.5 million. The total cost will be $60 million, split over three phases. The Lakefront Trail and Lake Shore Drive will remain open throughout construction. To track progress and occasional detours during the work, the city has set up navypierflyover.com. Sporting bike lanes and space for pedestrians, the trail will be 16 feet wide and approximately as elevated as Lake Shore Drive. LED lighting will supplement the “ambient light of Lake Shore Drive,” according to the city's website. The city called in architect Muller+Muller after studying the problem for years. That design, from 2011, remains intact. When complete the trail will allow for uninterrupted travel over the Chicago River, through DuSable Park, the Ogden Slip, across Illinois Street, Grand Avenue, Jane Addams Park and into the Ohio Street Tunnel. (The news comes among other improvements to the lakefront trail announced recently.) More design details are available here, in a presentation by the city made available online.
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Chicago’s Divvy bikesharing program wants your help placing new bicycle rental stations throughout the city. The Divvy Siting Team will consider your suggestions at suggest.divvybikes.com—they’ve already mapped many public suggestions alongside the 300 existing stations. Last month the program announced its intent to become North America’s largest bikesharing system. Divvy will add 175 stations by the end of 2014 and, pending state and federal funding, bring another 75 online after that, raising the total to 550 stations. As it expands, Divvy could address previous criticisms about equal access. Though it started by focusing on the Loop and other high-density downtown areas, the program has expanded into many neighborhoods. Still, many are unserved—Uptown is the northern terminus, while much of the West, Southwest, and South Sides have no stations.
In what the Cincinnati Enquirer called “a meeting filled with fire and suspense,” City Council voted 5-4 to halt construction on its $133 million streetcar project. The Enquirer has a breakdown of how and why, in their own words, each council member voted:
“We don’t want to waste money,” said Councilwoman Amy Murray, who voted with the majority. “This is really hard. (But) I don’t feel confident of the numbers I have.”Councilwoman Yvette Simpson nearly salvaged the plan with a proposal to keep going with $35,000 per day of streetcar construction while an independent analysis was done. Vice Mayor David Mann was ultimately unmoved by that bid. The project was a focal point in Mayor Mark Mallory's State of the City address last year, which came shortly after the 18-stop line broke ground. The route was to run from the river front through downtown and past Findley Market in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. Before work began, however, Ohio Governor John Kasich moved to strip the project’s funding. Cincinnati voters ultimately voted down a ballot measure that would have banned rail funding in 2011, and the light rail line was back on track. Streetcar supporters will “regroup” on potential legal action to keep the streetcar project alive.
Construction will begin soon on the highly-anticipated expansion to Chicago's Riverwalk, Ald. Brendan Reilly’s office announced last week. The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) will start work this fall. Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced late last year plans to lengthen the downtown riverwalk, retaining Sasaki Associates, Ross Barney Architects, Alfred Benesch & Co., and Jacobs/Ryan Associates to redesign and enliven the city's "second shoreline". Each of the six blocks will have distinctive identities: The Marina (from State to Dearborn); The Cove (Dearborn to Clark); The River Theater (Clark to LaSalle); The Swimming Hole (LaSalle to Wells); The Jetty (Wells to Franklin) and The Boardwalk (Franklin to Lake). In the works since a public development process settled the riverwalk’s general design in 1999, the project secured $100 million in June from the USDOT's Transportation Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act (TIFIA) program. That money will cover the vast majority of the project, but the City will also pursue sponsorship opportunities for ongoing maintenance and operations. Development along the Chicago River is not limited to the riverwalk. High-profile projects include Wolf Point, River Point and Goettsch Partners and Ted Wolff Landscape Archtiects' 150 N. Riverside.
This week a city council panel voted to advance Minneapolis’ plans for a 3.4-mile streetcar line along Nicollet and Central Avenues. The Transportation and Public Works committee’s thumbs up clears the way for a full City Council vote next week. Renderings show preliminary plans for a $200 million streetcar line instead of a bus route. About $60 million of that comes from a state-approved “value capture district,” (similar to TIF funding). The rest will come from funding not yet identified, but could include a transit sales tax. Minneapolis’ move comes alongside streetcar developments in Cincinnati and in Kansas City, among other cities.
When Elon Musk makes plans he makes no little ones. And he feels California shouldn’t either. This is the rationale behind Hyperloop Alpha, a supersonic, solar-powered, air-cushioned transit system (and future “Never Built”?) he views as the bolder alternative to conventional high-speed rail. It’s not a train, exactly. It’s more a hybrid between high-speed rail and the Concord. It’s Mr. Musk’s answer to the ever-delayed and increasingly expensive bullet train being proposed by the California High-Speed Rail Project that was supposed to be “shovel ready” in 2012. Turns out it’s more complicated and expensive to build high-speed rail than anybody in the state ever thought. Could Hyperloop, more bullet and less train, be the answer? If it’s true it could be built for less than one-tenth the cost of the $70 billion high-speed rail system, then perhaps yes. For a mere $20 (He’s really thought this out) you would be able to strap yourself into a thin aluminum tube and get shot (at speeds of up to 750 mph) to San Francisco in about 35 minutes. The design doesn’t feature any windows, so hopefully there will at least be some video monitors or soothing ambient lighting to relax passengers who are essentially locked inside a jet engine hurtling itself through an elevated steel pipeline. In a conference call following the release of the 57-page PDF outline of the project, Musk said there could be a prototype ready for testing within the next four years. Perhaps it’s time for the California High-Speed Rail Project to hire Mr. Musk and his team of engineers and optimists. At least then California could have some form of 21st-century transit underway before 2020.
A team led by Herzog & de Meuron has been unanimously selected for the redevelopment of Melbourne’s historic Flinders Street Station after beating out a star-studded shortlist that that included Zaha Hadid and Grimshaw. The team will be awarded a $1 million prize. The winning design aims to transform the iconic 1909 train station into a 21st century civic center and transportation hub, preserving the most beloved features of the landmark building while integrating it into a contemporary urban context. The proposal also incorporates cultural, retail, and civic programs within an adjacent 500,000 square foot site along the Yarra River, including a public art gallery, plaza, amphitheater, marketplace, and permanent space for arts and cultural festivals. While the old Flinders Street Station has become an icon of the city, especially the copper dome, grand arch, and distinctive clocks of its main façade, it could barely handle the nearly 100,000 straphangers who step onto its platforms each day. As Mark Loughnan of Melbourne-based Hassell told Building Design, “Today it is a place people generally choose to hurry through. Our design makes it a destination, with new buildings an features that will attract people to the precinct.” Borrowing formally from the arches of the existing station and unbuilt features of the original design, the new station is composed of long, rippling white vaults, perforated to allow for natural light and ventilation on train platforms. The vaults follow the alignment of the tracks, curving slightly to intuitively lead commuters through to the central plaza and outdoor amphitheater along the river’s edge. Across the plaza, four similarly styled, straight, white vaults house the civic, cultural, and retail functions. The new design is meant to ease commuter and pedestrian flows through thought the station while readying the site for potential future growth. According to Melbourne's Herald Sun, initial estimates place the cost of the new station between $1 billion-$1.5 billion.
[beforeafter] [/beforeafter] “The Red Line” could be Cleveland’s answer to New York's High Line or Chicago's Bloomingdale Trail, rails-to-trails projects that have captured the imaginations of their respective cities as an answer to questions surrounding transportation, aging infrastructure and urban placemaking. The Rotary Club of Cleveland is pushing the idea of a three-mile greenway connecting five city neighborhoods to downtown. That would make the old RTA Red Line trail longer than both the High Line and the Bloomingdale Trail. The Rotary Club initiated a cleanup and rehabilitation of the ravine next to the Red Line more than 30 years ago. That project became an urban gardening project called ParkWorks, and eventually spawned LAND Studio. Studies of that “Rapid Recovery” project estimated finishing the greenway would cost between $5.1 million and $5.5 million. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter]
The Port Authority Board of Commissioners has endorsed a study to investigate options to accommodate growth in bus commuting to and from midtown Manhattan. The authority hired Kohn Pedersen Fox and Parsons Brinckerhoff to craft a long-term master plan to improve interstate public transit services and reduce the impact of interstate buses on nearby communities. The plan will potentially replace the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan, which has reached capacity and is in need of improvements. The comprehensive plan for the bus terminal, which is utilized by approximately 8,000 buses and 225,000 travelers daily, includes a state-of-good-repair investment program and new bus staging and storage facilities on Manhattan’s west side. The scheme has been designed to improve bus operations and limit the amount of buses idling on city streets. By tackling specific infrastructure needs, the Port Authority will make certain the terminal remains a central part of the interstate transportation network. “The development of a Master Plan underscores the Port Authority’s commitment to make the Bus Terminal a world-class facility and bus transit the most reliable mode of access to midtown Manhattan,” said Port Authority Chairman David Samson in a statement. “While the Port Authority has already begun the work of revitalizing the Bus Terminal… this comprehensive approach is the best way to ensure the Bus Terminal keeps pace with future passenger growth over the next fifty years.”
Get on your bikes and ride — Chicago’s long-delayed Divvy bike share program launched Friday, kicking on 65 solar-powered docking stations and unleashing 700 “Chicago” (read: powder) blue bikes. But some West and South Side residents may have to wait for the program's full benefits, if they get them at all. Optimized for short trips in high-density areas, the Divvy system requires a credit or debit card and few of the initial stations serve the far West and South sides. The Department of Transportation plans to rollout a total of 400 stations and about 4,000 three-speed bicycles in all. Chicago’s Department of Transportation unveiled its bike share plans in April, tapping Portland, OR–based Alta Bicycle Share, which also runs DC’s bike-share program. The rollout follows a similar program, Citibike, which launched in New York in late May. If you’re riding Divvy today, watch out for stragglers from the Blackhawks Stanley Cup parade.
We've known for a while that Tom Prendergast and Anthony Foxx would be leading New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation for a while now, but now it's official. The New York State Senate has confirmed Prendergast has been appointed as the new chairman and CEO of the MTA and Congress has okayed President Obama's selection of Anthony Foxx as the new Secretary of Transportation. Prendergast, who has extensive experience working in the transit system, is replacing Joe Lhota who left the position to run for New York City Mayor. With Prendergast's new role comes the heavy responsibility of managing an annual $13 billion dollar budget and effectively serving 8.5 million commuters per weekday. Anthony Foxx, former mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, replaces Secretary Ray LaHood, a notable enforcer of safety who initiated a strong campaign against distracted driving. Foxx says that he will follow from LaHood’s example, making safety a priority as well.
During the discussion that followed the announcement of 2013’s Burnham Prize winners, much was made of the difference between “gold-standard” bus rapid transit and watered-down “express bus” service. The key difference is that the real thing not only runs more smoothly, but that it feels like a special experience. So it was for the honorees of the prize ceremony, which this year included three winners, three honorable mentions, and three citations. Their prompt, “Next Stop,” asked them to design stations for Chicago's burgeoning network of bus rapid transit systems. WINNERS FIRST PRIZE: Project Title: Form vs. Uniform Team: Hesam T. Rostami and Bahareh Atash Winning entry Form vs. Uniform came from a husband-and-wife team who moved to Chicago from Toronto four months ago. They started with a ceiling of concentric wood rings, pulled down at various points to meet the ground. At those points steel supports would bolster the wrap-around glass that enclosed each station. The graceful iterations would “unify and differentiate at the same time” the system’s stops. Its rounded corners and glassy clarity made for a remarkably open feel — a tribute to the city’s modernist mythology, its architects said — but insulated riders from the weather. SECOND PRIZE: Project Title: Enthalpy Team: Aetheric Studio (Goi Artetxe and Elise Renwick) The thin, tubular design of Enthalpy appears ready to vanish in its elegance, with LEDs, heat lamps and glass seemingly draped over a steel frame and guarded by a meadow mesh exterior. “We wanted the architecture to float and be open,” said entrant Elise Renwick. Its “chandelier-like” sleekness was eye-catching, though some jurors worried it would be too fragile. THIRD PRIZE: Project Title: BTA: Bus Transit Authority Team: Aneesha Dharwadker and Conor O’Shea Designed by Chicago natives, bta pays homage to the CTA farecard itself, arching in and out of the pavement in a slender ribbon to shield commuters from the weather, with separate shelters united graphically by the CTA farecard’s off-center black stripe. Jurors cheered its modular design and bright LCD screens, which the architects suggested could be used to display artwork Tweeted by local Chicago Public Schools students, but were skeptical that the relatively small shelters would provide ample protection. HONORABLE MENTION Project title: Torqued Spine Team: HDR Engineering (Janet Gonzalez Jeff Fahs, Lance Thies) Project Title: Halo Team: RTKL Associates Inc., Willoughby Engineering , Halvorson Partners Project Title: Kinesis Team: LC Architects (Ermis Chalvatzis and Natassa Lianou) CITATION Project Title: BuRT Team: Perkins+Will (Branded Environments and Urban Design) Project Title: Plug & Play Team: Francesc Montosa and Marc Torrellas (with Mark Pique and Meritxell Arderiux) Project Title: Hurry Up AND Slow Down Team: Ann Lui and Craig Reschke The 42 entries came from 14 countries. Watch the awards ceremony here: