Year 2010 Transportation System Development Plan


Published by: Chicago Area Transportation Study, in cooperation with the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission
Publishing date: 1990 (Update in 1994)

Plan Summary:

Though at the time, northeastern Illinois had one of the best and most extensive public transit systems in the country (and to some extent still does), the 2010 Transportation System Development Plan first emphasized that the advancing age of the current system represents a serious problem, one of the first acknowledgments of this issue. At the time of the plan's update, the CTA was already beginning to overhaul the aging Lake-Englewood-Jackson Park Green Line, but "past underinvestment will require a major effort to maintain the present system in good operating condition."

"At the same time, the system will have to be modified to respond to regional growth and changing demographics." Forecasts indicated that the Chicago metropolitan area was continuing to grow, with the central business district (CBD) gaining 46% more work-oriented travel and rapid transit, as the dominant mode serving this market, projected to "experience a 55% increase in CBD work trip demand and a small increase in share." But, "the largest absolute increases in work travel will occur in non-CBD markets, which accounted for three-quarters of 1980 work trips."

"Increased work travel demand will exceed the current capacity of the transit system. The bus and rapid transit system will require [sic] modest increases in capacity to accommodate growth in demand." The cost of these expansions was estimated to be $266 million for rolling stock and $128 million for "guideway and facilities" for the "L"TM.


Expansion and Addition Projects:

"While maintenance of the most important parts of the current system and capacity expansion would meet a significant portion of current and future needs, it is by no means adequate for meeting all of the region's pressing public transportation needs. The recommendations are presented in two parts - Priority Projects and Corridors of the Future. The first group of projects were judged to be the most promising candidates for system expansion. The second group consists of projects with sufficient potential to merit consideration over the planning horizon and the preservation of options in these corridors for potential use beyond 2010.

"These recommendations are of a general nature: alignments are generalized ."


Major Facility Priority Projects:

  • Central Area Circulator: CBD-oriented travel is and will continue to be transit's strongest market and in order to protect and enhance transit's share of this market, access to the north, west and south areas of the Loop need to be improved. The RTA-funded Central Area Distributor Project, coordinated by the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), proposes a facility that links several areas of downtown - most likely including Navy Pier, the Museum Campus, Soldier Field, McCormick Place and the commuter rail stations - but does not specify any mode or alignment. Thus this may or may not be part of the CTA rapid transit system, but was most likely to be a light rail system.
  • Mid-City Transit Line: This is a 22-mile circumferential line that would run between the O'Hare rapid transit line (connecting at Jefferson Park or Montrose) and the Dan Ryan line at 87th Street. The north-south alignment would parallel Cicero Avenue while the east-west portion would follow 74th Street as far as Halsted. Connections would be made to the Southwest Line (later the Midway Orange Line, underway shortly after the plan was first published), the three other intersected "L"TM lines and perhaps some of the five intersected commuter rail lines. This line was tested with a high level of service and was the "best performing major transit facility evaluated in the 2010 Plan development process. Significant daily boardings were forecast, with over two-thirds of the work trips carried having non-CBD destinations."
  • Northwest-O'Hare to Schaumburg: This would be a nine and a half mile line in the Northwest Tollway corridor, connecting Schaumburg and Woodfield with O'Hare and existing "L"TM service. If connected (or even through-routed) with the existing O'Hare Line, it would have to be before the end of the line, most likely at the River Road station, due to how the line currently runs into the heart of the passenger terminal. The line was tested with a moderate level of service, "primarily serves work travel, with over half the work trips carried having non-CBD destinations. Forecast passenger loads are directionally balanced," providing a viable method of reverse commuting.


Map of Priority Projects


Corridors of the Future

  • East-West Forest Park to Oak Brook: A 15 mile line extending west from the Desplaines Avenue station at the end of the Congress Line to Oak Brook and the proposed middle circumferential commuter line. The line would serve the Oak Brook Mall and office parks, and provide a means of reverse commuting in the I-88 research corridor. "Tested with a moderate level of service," the line "primarily serves work travel, with over 40% of the work trips carried having non-CBD destinations. The best performing of the Corridors of the Future projects, this line exhibits modest levels of diversion from existing commuter rail lines."
  • Skokie-O'Hare Connector: This would extend the Mid-Town Transit Line six miles north to the Dempster Skokie Swift terminal. "This line would improve accessibility to non-CBD employment and activity centers from north shore locations as well as provide reverse commuting opportunities. This line, tested with a higher level of service, performed well, with two-thirds of the work trips carried being non-CBD destinations."
  • Skokie Swift Extension: This project would extend the Skokie Swift eight miles north to Lake-Cook Road on the county line. This line would chiefly be for reverse commuting and improving access to non-CBD employment centers in this corridor. "Tested in a 'bare-bones' configuration with only one intermediate station and a service level lower than the existing Skokie Swift," the line's performance might be "greatly enhanced by the presence of the Skokie-O'Hare Connector."
  • Ryan East Extension: This three mile extension of the Dan Ryan "L"TM line would stretch from the present 95th Street terminal to 103rd/Stony Island. Besides service the residents of this corridor, it would relieve congestion at the overburdened 95th Street station. Tested with a high level of service, this line yielded good (primarily CBD-bound) ridership, but its high capital cost makes it prohibitive. Development of the Lake Calumet area would improve this project's attractiveness.


The Results:

This plan is somewhat lamentable in that none of its major transit projects have been undertaken as of early 2002. All survived into the next regional transportation plan, Destination 2020, but their outlook for implementation is none the better.

The 2010 plan's suggestion to focus on the capital maintenance of existing lines was well heeded by the CTA , whose Green Line (Lake-Englewood-Jackson Park) closed for a massive two year overhaul a few years after the first edition of the plan was published. In 2001, the transit authority began the renovation of the Douglas branch of the Blue Line, which is expected to be completed circa 2005.

This plan was the Central Area Circulator's last hurrah, dropped from the regional planning documents not long afterward. Although many still remain hopeful that the project will be implemented in some form or another (a current favored version is a transit way connecting Navy Pier, Grant Park, the Museum Campus, Soldier Field and McCormick Place), funding has vanished all with public interest. The CTA never showed a great deal of interest in the plan.

The Mid-City Transit, which first appeared here for serious consideration, was the first time Chicago owned up to the fact that there is life in Chicago that does not involve the Loop in some way and addressed the issue on non-CBD passengers. Though evaluated as the most promising project in the 2010 Plan, it also has one of the largest price tags -- $565 million, which would balloon to approximately $1 billion in the 2020 Plan -- and thus became cost-prohibitive in a time when transit's funding share was diminishing.

The Northwest-O'Hare to Schaumburg project never picked up a great deal of steam after it was proposed, though after its inclusion in Destination 2020, it became the pet project of the northwest suburban mayors - especially Schaumburg Mayor Al Larson - and former-U.S. Senator Carol Mosley-Braun. By late 2001, it was one of the CTA's favored extension projects, especially in view of Mayor Daley's O'Hare Airport expansion plan.

Like the plan says, the Skokie-O'Hare Connector is essentially an extension of the Mid-City Transit Line and would be unlikely to proceed without that segment, though the project shows merit even without it, providing a short cut for north suburbanites to O'Hare Airport and the northwest side. The Skokie Swift extension to Lake-Cook Road seems unlikely simply due to its low priority status, but a shorter extension to Old Orchard would make a great deal of sense and not be particularly expensive or difficult. This project progressed to Destination 2020, though regrettably still as a low-priority project for future study.

The Dan Ryan Line extension has promise, but the area around the proposed terminal is somewhat sparsely populated. But the project showed enough promise to not only be included in Destination 2020, but be upgraded from a Corridor of the Future to a top priority project. The last three projects were among those being strongly considered in early 2002 for pursuit of federal funding by CTA in the near future (see story in Articles section).

The East-West Extension from Forest Park to Oak Brook is interesting in that the Plan calls it the best performing of the Corridors of the Future projects, yet no agency or politician has ever shown any real interest in progressing with this project. To date, no real study or plan for this alignment has been initiated, though the project did advance to inclusion in the Destination 2020 Plan. This project, which if run commuter-style, would be an excellent link to the Oak Brook Mall and office parks, which are under-served by transit. Ironically, this line would in many respects replace the Westchester "L"TM Line, which the CTA abandoned in 1951.

Map of Future Corridors