1995 Transportation System Plan


Published by: Chicago Area Transportation Study, Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission
Publishing date: 1973

Plan Summary:

Like most regional transportation plans, the 1995 Transportation System Plan aimed to provide better transit for the more than three million citizens of the northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana metropolitan region. By providing "a rational basis for the transportation decisions necessary to reduce current deficiencies and provide for future growth," the 1995 plan suggested general alignments for their recommended projects instead of "exact locational alignments," making feasibility studies easier and more free to suggest the appropriate route.

The complete plan included four modal components: transit system (commuter rail, rapid transit, bus), highway system (freeways, arterials), airport system, and freight system (rail, water, truck, energy corridors). For the purposes of this site, we will concentrate only on the transit projects.

The 1995 plan had some specific objectives to attain:

  • Provide citizens with accessibility in response to their needs.
  • Support the land use and functional plans, policies, and forecasts developed by the regional comprehensive planning agencies.
  • Minimize social and economic disruptions of existing land uses and activities.
  • Maintain the high accessibility of the Chicago Central Business District.
  • Increase the accessibility of low and moderate income families to jobs and services.
  • Reduce accidents and ensure public safety.
  • Reduce pollution (air, water and land use) and minimize disruption to the physical (including visual) environment.
  • Coordinate transfers between modes to optimize accessibility and provide real choice of transportation modes to all segments of society.

As far as transit is concerned, the "1995 System Plan includes recommendations for major additions within the City of Chicago and further extensions of the existing network into suburban Cook and DuPage Counties. Approximately 7.1 million seat-miles daily will have been added to this network, 5.9 million within the City of Chicago and 1.2 million within suburban Cook." The establishment of Transportation Centers (what would, in today's lingo, be referred to as "intermodal transit centers") would serve "to maximize the coordination of various modes. The Transportation Centers are to be located at a station site where transfer demand within or between modes is high. They are intended to increase the efficiency of the system and enhance the convenience to users." Lastly, the Cicero Avenue corridor is designated as a Corridor of High Accessibility, meaning there is "major vehicle and person movement in [this] corridor" which must be augmented with an additional transit mode, but the mode choice is still undefined. (In later regional plans with would become the Mid-City Transit Line.)


Expansion and Addition Projects:

Now onto the meat and potatoes of the plan: the specific projects. They are listed below, in no particular order.

  • A subway from Harlem Avenue to Franklin Street via Archer Avenue. This would hook into the proposed Central Area Loop and Distributor (see below).
  • Rapid transit from the Dempster Skokie Swift terminal south to the Jefferson Park O'Hare station.
  • A new subway from Jefferson Park/O'Hare to the Loop. The alignment would leave Jefferson Park eastbound under Lawrence Avenue, continue east on the existing Ravenswood Branch, continue east under Wilson, then south under Sheridan Road and Lake Shore Drive.
  • A new downtown subway in the form of a Central Area Loop and Distributor. This loop would be under Franklin, Lake, Michigan or Wabash and Jackson with a central distributor along Madison or Monroe going east, with a branch south to the museums and McCormick Place and one going north to Navy Pier and the Gold Coast.
  • Extension of Milwaukee "L" service to O'Hare Airport.
  • Creation of a Dan Ryan "A" branch, extending southeast from the present 95th Street terminal to a new terminal at 103rd and Stony Island via the Calumet Expressway.
  • Creation of a Dan Ryan "B" branch, extending southwest from the present 95th Street terminal to Blue Island via the Dan Ryan Expressway (I-57) and the ICG Blue Island Branch.
  • Extension of Englewood "A" service from Ashland/63rd to Midway Airport.
  • Extension of Congress "A" service from Desplaines Avenue to Oak Brook and IL Route 83.
  • Extension of Skokie Swift service from Dempster to Golf Road and Old Orchard Shopping Center.
  • Creation of Transportation Centers at Davis Street (Evanston "L" and Metra C&NW), Blue Island (Metra Rock Island and new Dan Ryan B "L"), 103rd Street (new Dan Ryan A "L"), and Jefferson Park (Milwaukee "L", new Skokie Swift line, new LSD/Wilson subway).


The Results:

Some of these projects came to pass, but most did not. Some continued to linger on in future plans and a few survive even today in the 2020 Transportation Plan.

The Archer Avenue subway became the Midway (Orange) Line in 1993, eliminating the need to extend the Englewood Line west to Midway.

The subway via Lawrence/Wilson/Sheridan/Lake Shore Drive is a project that has been bounded around in one form or another since the 1920s, but has never come to pass and has been dropped from current plans. Despite the high density and potential ridership in that area, the project's high capital cost make it unlikely to occur in the near future, if ever.

The Central Area Loop and Distributor is a project was later reborn as the Central Area Circulator, a light rail system that would have been separate from the rapid transit but would have served most of the same destinations as the subway plan. Despite some strict opposition, a high capital cost and having been dropped from the most recent regional transportation plans, it continued to be actively pursued into the mid-1990s and while no one is currently planning to execute the project, many are still hopeful.

Of course, the Milwaukee extension to O'Hare got built, opening to River Road in 1983 and O'Hare in '84.

The Dan Ryan "A" extension to 103rd is still on the drawing boards and in current regional plans, but the Dan Ryan "B" extension to Blue Island is unlikely to come to pass due to a high level of service provided by Metra in that region and the un-likelihood that Metra and the CTA could coordinate a plan there. The east Dan Ryan extension is among those being strongly considered in early 2002 for pursuit of federal funding by CTA in the near future (see story in Articles section).

Congress service to Oak Brook is now looked at as only a remote possibility, delegated to being a corridor for future study. The Skokie Swift extension to Old Orchard plan is in the same category in the Destination 2020 plan, and the CTA's plan to convert the Yellow Line (Skokie Swift) to third rail in summer 2002 moves this project a small step closer to likelihood.


Map of Expansion Projects