If you’ve seen one downtown Chicago bus stop, you’ve seen them all. Surrounding that bus stop sign are on-the-go urbanites with impatient, tapping feet, pulling down that refresh screen on their CTA app and wishing that the number of minutes until the next bus would be seconds instead.
Now that the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) has launched a $38.5 million dollar bus rapid transit (BRT) project that will create bus-only lanes in hopes of reducing traffic congestion and providing faster, more reliable service, tapping feet and irritated sighs may soon be long-lost noises on downtown streets.
Quick and reliable urban mobility is a focus point for many cities around the world, proven by the fact that more than 130 cities have implemented BRT systems with an estimated 22 million passengers using those BRT systems worldwide every day.
For Chicago city-dwellers, faster and more reliable buses are a dream come true. But, like many other large-scale and citywide changes, there are costs, benefits and preparations to make. So now that Chicago has jumped aboard to implement Central Loop BRT, what does this mean for our members?
As building owners and managers with downtown properties, you should be aware that the Central Loop BRT may alter the current traffic patterns on your street and the day-to-day operations of your building.
Bus priority lanes will be established or upgraded on three blocks of the Canal and Clinton pair of one-way streets, which run north-south, and the Washington and Madison Street pair, which run east-west across the loop. These sets of streets were chosen for the Central Loop BRT because they serve three of the busiest railroad stations in Chicago (Union, Ogilvie and Millennium) and every CTA rapid transit route entering downtown Chicago. This project will also include street improvements for bikers and pedestrians. Bike travel throughout the loop will be improved with the addition of protected lanes on Washington, Randolph and Clinton.
If your building resides along the BRT route, you should have received both a letter and an email from CDOT explaining the project and asking for any questions or feedback you may have.
CDOT also plans to hold block-by-block meetings along the BRT route so that all building owners and property managers can speak directly with BRT project managers. We encourage all of our members along this route to attend these meetings so that your buildings can begin to plan for the changes that will take effect in the spring of 2014 and beyond.
Here are some of the questions you should be asking yourself as you prepare for the block-by-block meetings and the Central Loop BRT construction:
- Will the BRT route affect loading zones or docks that service my building?
- Will ground floor tenants have to undergo any changes to accommodate for BRT?
- Will the bike traffic improvements increase the number of bikes parked outside my building?
- Will any of my building’s or tenant’s signage become less visible once BRT bus platforms are built?
- Will there be any effect of removing existing bus stops to consolidate under the BRT stop?
Whether the pedestrian inside of you is cheering in light of these new Central Loop BRT changes, or whether the business-side of you is incensed that yet another “to do” has been added to your list, we encourage you to learn the details of the upcoming BRT and to attend a block-by-block meeting so that you can get all of your questions answered.
As always, BOMA/Chicago will keep you informed every step of the way. If you have any general questions about the project, please email BRT@cityofchicago.org. To schedule a meeting with the Central Loop BRT project manager and the design team, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Has your building already started to prepare for the Central Loop BRT? Leave us a comment below and share the story of how you are gearing up for rapid transit.