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MisterUptempo

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  1. Actually, now that the apartment component has been mercifully exorcised from the head house plan, the developers have decided to divide the 400 planned hotel rooms into two separate hotels, under different flags. 240 rooms for one, 160 rooms for the other. And it appears as if the 240 room hotel will, in fact, be more upscale. The entrance for the 160-room hotel will be located on the Jackson Street side; the entrance for the 240-room hotel will be located on the Adams Street side. ETA-Now that BMO will be locating its offices in the Union Station tower, perhaps the upscale hotel will located on the Jackson Street side, so that accessing the hotel will just require crossing Jackson. Who knows? When I get the chance, I'll upload some graphics from the approved plan that show the layout for both hotels. But I will mention now that one feature that was thrown into the redesign, that surprised me, will be the installation of a swimming pool in Union Station's basement. If I have the location correct, it will be located somewhere under the Burlington Room, where the women's restrooms were located. Also, the developers are going to bring the taxi drive back into service, for valet parking for hotel guests. Guests will drop off their cars at the entrance of whatever hotel they are staying. Valets will then park the cars on the lower level of the head house. To pick up their cars, guests from both hotels will have to go to the old north taxi drive to get them. As an aside, in addition to the 400 hotel rooms that are being built in the head house, an additional 615 hotel rooms are slated to be added at 320 S. Clinton, currently a vacant lot across the street from the current Amtrak parking garage. The planned property will be a Toyoko Inn Hotel, which is a Japanese-owned chain which tends to lean on the "no frills" side. There have been some delays over a dispute with the local alderman, but they did some caisson work earlier in the year, and about 6 weeks ago the city finally gave its approval to some design changes, so construction might get started in earnest soon. I mention it because I find it amusing that within a span of 18 months to 2 years, the number of available hotel rooms within spitting distance of Union Station will go from virtually nil to 1015 rooms.
  2. Just a few newer renderings of the office building planned for the Amtrak parking lot. image source - Chicago Department of Planning and Development Updating an earlier post I made in this thread, Salesforce eventually decided to locate to the yet-to-be-built Wolf Point South. The commitment has prompted the developer to push up groundbreaking on the project. The developers of the Union Station office tower are trying to hammer out an agreement to sign BMO Financial, which would combine current Chicago operations, currently spread out among several Loop locations, plus the transfer of some functions from BMO's Montreal home office.
  3. MisterUptempo

    What would you add?

    I don't believe this has been posted here yet, even though it's a year old. image source - midwestrailplan.org But to get an idea of where the Midwest states are regarding future routes/upgrades, here's a draft version of a future regional network, drawn up by the FRA and the Midwest state DOTs, which took them nearly a year to hammer out. They consider it a non-binding Tier 0 document, as it's nothing but an attempt to get all regional players together on the same page. The term "high-speed rail" is out, replaced with "high performance rail", offering three levels of service- Core Express - Speeds over 125 MPH, frequent service, dedicated tracks, electrified, projected OTP of 99%. Regional - Speeds 90 - 125 MPH, frequent service, running on a combination of dedicated and shared tracks, projected OTP of 95% Emerging - Speeds up to 90 MPH, less frequent service than Core Express/Regional, shared tracks, projected OTP of 85%. A few observations- -The only route that is exclusively Core Express is Chicago-Milwaukee-Madison-Twin Cities, though CHI-DET, CHI-STL, and CHI-IND could be upgraded to Core Express if needed. -No direct CHI - KC service (save the Southwest Chief). -No route to Buffalo, but there is a regional route to Louisville and Nashville. -Chicago-Grand Rapids via Kalamazoo, not by the current Pere Marquette route. -The Illinois Circumferential route (Quad Cities-Galesburg-Peoria-Bloomington-Champaign) made it into the plan, as did Michigan's Coast2Coast. -Though listed as Network Independent, those looking to re-establish some form of the National Limited might be encouraged that St Louis-Indy made it onto the map. -Not sure what the point would be in re-routing Chicago-Quincy through Bloomington, instead of just upgrading the current route, as that would improve performance on a future Chicago-Omaha route as well. Here's a link to the planning documents that they released during the process. And a link to the report that contains the draft network map.
  4. MisterUptempo

    Amtrak workers fed up too...

    How soon we forget that organized labor brought us things like an 8 hour work day and 40 hour work week amongst other employee benefits. An Amtrak OBS employee is not like your typical restaurant employee who works an ~8 hour shift then goes home. On the long distance trains, they can be away from home for almost a week, working +16 hour days. It’s been a while since I’ve worked a 40 hour work week. But more to the point, they choose the job knowing they will be away from family. It isn’t sprung on them. Bucket of crabs, anyone? Yes, those workers were well aware that those were the terms of employment. But they accepted those terms with the understanding that they would be justly compensated for the unorthodox working conditions as well as for their labor. Your proof that they aren’t getting the wages they agreed to, please. Was someone promised a condition of employment they aren’t getting? No longer being happy with the wages or working conditions you chose to accept means you need a new job, not that you are being treated unfairly. I really don't know where you're coming from on this one. At no point did I state, or even imply, that the OBS weren't getting their agreed upon compensation, or that the rate was somehow unfair. I merely responded to your insulting comment that OBS don't seem to possess the capacity to understand the demands of their job when they sign on to work for Amtrak. I believe they understand the terms quite clearly, and those terms include being paid a wage that reflects the unusual demands that the job entails. With your preface that you no longer work a 40-hour week, your comment takes on an added whiff of jealousy, which prompted my "bucket of crabs" comment. If you believe you aren't being fairly compensated for your work, the remedy does not lie in denying fair pay to others. I’m not jealous. I am empowered. If so don’t like the conditions I agreed to, I have the ability to look for work elsewhere. Unemployment is at record lows. No one is holding a gun to anyone’s head making anyone work. If you aren’t getting what was agreed to, that is a problem. If you are getting what you agreed to and it is no longer adequate, feel free to look for work elsewhere. If you find having the ability to walk away from unacceptable circumstances insulting, I have nothing else for you. ‍♀️ "If so don’t like the conditions I agreed to, I have the ability to look for work elsewhere." Are you suggesting that, in all cases, if someone accepts a position at a particular wage that they should never ask for a raise, regardless of tenure or performance? I'm not talking about the Amtrak OBS, whose wages are set by a contract, the result of collective bargaining, but a typical, everyday employee, the vast majority of whom are not in unions. Do you believe that employees shouldn't have the right to collectively bargain? Just trying to get a fix on where you are, because empowered people don't readily give up the right to sit at the negotiating table as equals of management and capital.
  5. MisterUptempo

    Amtrak workers fed up too...

    How soon we forget that organized labor brought us things like an 8 hour work day and 40 hour work week amongst other employee benefits. An Amtrak OBS employee is not like your typical restaurant employee who works an ~8 hour shift then goes home. On the long distance trains, they can be away from home for almost a week, working +16 hour days. It’s been a while since I’ve worked a 40 hour work week. But more to the point, they choose the job knowing they will be away from family. It isn’t sprung on them. Bucket of crabs, anyone? Yes, those workers were well aware that those were the terms of employment. But they accepted those terms with the understanding that they would be justly compensated for the unorthodox working conditions as well as for their labor. Your proof that they aren’t getting the wages they agreed to, please. Was someone promised a condition of employment they aren’t getting? No longer being happy with the wages or working conditions you chose to accept means you need a new job, not that you are being treated unfairly. I really don't know where you're coming from on this one. At no point did I state, or even imply, that the OBS weren't getting their agreed upon compensation, or that the rate was somehow unfair. I merely responded to your insulting comment that OBS don't seem to possess the capacity to understand the demands of their job when they sign on to work for Amtrak. I believe they understand the terms quite clearly, and those terms include being paid a wage that reflects the unusual demands that the job entails. With your preface that you no longer work a 40-hour week, your comment takes on an added whiff of jealousy, which prompted my "bucket of crabs" comment. If you believe you aren't being fairly compensated for your work, the remedy does not lie in denying fair pay to others.
  6. MisterUptempo

    Amtrak workers fed up too...

    How soon we forget that organized labor brought us things like an 8 hour work day and 40 hour work week amongst other employee benefits. An Amtrak OBS employee is not like your typical restaurant employee who works an ~8 hour shift then goes home. On the long distance trains, they can be away from home for almost a week, working +16 hour days. It’s been a while since I’ve worked a 40 hour work week. But more to the point, they choose the job knowing they will be away from family. It isn’t sprung on them. Bucket of crabs, anyone? Yes, those workers were well aware that those were the terms of employment. But they accepted those terms with the understanding that they would be justly compensated for the unorthodox working conditions as well as for their labor.
  7. MisterUptempo

    Hotel near Chicago Union Station

    Just a heads up for anyone looking to stay in downtown Chicago in the near future. There is a strike taking place at a number of hotels in the area. As of this writing, they are as follows- Ambassador Chicago Cambria Magnificent Mile Crowne Plaza Hotel Chicago-Metro Doubletree Chicago Magnificent Mile Drake Hotel Hampton Inn / Homewood Suites Magnificent Mile Hilton Chicago Holiday Inn Mart Plaza Hyatt Regency Chicago Hyatt Regency McCormick Place Inn of Chicago Kinzie Hotel Palmer House Warwick Allerton Wyndham Grand In addition, the following hotels could face a strike at any time- Fairmont Chicago Hotel Raffaello Park Hyatt Chicago Tremont Chicago Hotel None of these are really in close proximity to Union Station (save the Palmer House, and maybe the Hilton Chicago), but thought it ought to be mentioned. From first-hand experience (attending my nephew's wedding reception at the JW Marriott, which was being struck at the time), I can tell you that the strikers are VERY LOUD, as one might expect, and having to walk through the line to attend the reception made for a few awkward moments, which one should also expect. I hadn't heard about the strike until they actually walked out, which was the day before the wedding. According to hotel policy, it was too late for me to cancel my room without incurring a penalty, but after a 20 minute discussion with the manager, they finally relented.
  8. Well, it appears as if the developers got the hint- img src - Chicago Sun-Times Invoking Fair Use, a portion of an article from the Chicago Sun-Times - https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/new-renderings-union-station-office-tower-acquired/ -snip- Alderman Reilly will conduct another community meeting for the project, in which the details of the redesign will be presented. The meeting will take place on Tuesday, September 11, 2018, 6PM-8PM, in the Burlington Room at Union Station. The big news, of course, is that the headhouse is left intact, save for what appears (in the top rendering) to be a single-level structure that rings around the inner portion of the headhouse roof. There are a couple of small structures up there already. Unclear whether this will be used strictly for mechanical purposes, or the developer will locate any hotel amenities up there. Very likely the new addition won't be visible from street level. The fact that the room count is being bumped up without a major addition leads me to believe that Riverside ditched the idea of making floors 2 & 3 of the headhouse available as office space, as was originally planned, and will instead use it to grow the hotel from 330 to 400 rooms. The top rendering looks very basic. The office building appears as if it is taking some design cues from the Immigration Court building across the street, and the plaza looks like a sketch an architect might make on a cocktail napkin over drinks with a client. The second rendering does show a more refined vision of both the building and plaza. Knowing that Rahm had a hand in getting this deal done makes me wonder whether the tenant that the Sun-Times article mentions was the carrot Emanuel dangled in front of the developers to convince them to eliminate the residential units from the headhouse. Either that, or Rahm found a bunch of TIF money in between his couch cushions. Salesforce has been in town a lot recently, and have been in discussions about locating a new office, bringing thousands of new jobs into the city, at the yet-to-be-built Wolf Point South building. Among Salesforce's demands were a tax break (no problem there - Rahm gives those out like candy), the right to install a large video display on the building (on the riverfront? could be a problem), and exclusive access to riverfront public space several times every year (close riverfront access to tourists? potentially big problem). At the Union Station site, Salesforce could get all of those demands met without much trouble. Might also explain why the two tower plan is now a taller single tower plan, with a much larger public space. Just a guess on my part. One question that lingers is what Riverside is going to do with the 3.1 million square feet it is allowed to build on the Union Station properties. The new office building is thought to be about 1.5 million square feet. Phase 3 of the project calls for a residential building over the south train shed of 500,000 square feet. That still leaves 1.1 million square feet unaccounted for. ETA - The design of the office building may just be preliminary. As has already been mentioned elsewhere, the structure bears a remarkable resemblance to 110 N. Wacker Dr., which is currently under construction, and was designed by the same architectural firm that is partnered with Riverside on this project (they did not design the residential monstrosity that was plopped onto the headhouse in the previous proposal). img src - Crain's Chicago Business
  9. If all remains on schedule, the first car will be delivered to Caltrans in March, 2020. The first IDOT/Midwest car to be delivered in July, 2020. The final IDOT/Midwest car is scheduled for March, 2023 delivery, and Caltrans gets their final car in September, 2023. Also, just a quick update. From the August 14, 2018 Section 305 Executive Board meeting, the following- The full report can be found here - http://www.highspeed-rail.org/Documents/305%20Exec%20Brd%20minutes%20%20-8-14-18%20DRAFT.doc For anyone who might be able to access it, Revision B1 of the 305-003 single-level specifications was recently released. I'd be curious how much the specs may have been altered to accommodate Siemens.
  10. Here is a shot of the staircase ceiling before restoration, largely a warm monotone, whereas the ceiling has now been restored to the color scheme that was original to the station when it first opened. img src - Chicago Architecture Foundation With the restoration, the coffered ceiling really shows off its magnificent detailing.
  11. Just a small update. The Chicago Union Station Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ChicagoUnionStation/ posted a few photos of the restoration work in the Great Hall, specifically of the ceiling. From February- And from late June- These photos appear to be of the ceiling over one of the Canal St. staircases.
  12. What is the propsed path? As per the description Boring Company included in their proposal, The Chicago Tribune came up with this- img src - Chicago Tribune Musk certainly got more than his share of publicity with this announcement, and I believe Rahm is hoping to influence Amazon's HQ2 decision with this bit of whiz-bang technology. My concern is that if Musk's high-speed butter dishes never materialize, the idea of an airport express will be too toxic for a long time afterwards. I wonder whether we'll ever get to see the competing bid that lost out to Boring.
  13. To read an account of someone who attended the presentation this evening, the decision to cantilever the residential addition is strictly economic in nature. The architect explained that the floor plates of the offices immediately below the addition are only 50 feet deep. In order to be able to accommodate a residential building with a double-loaded corridor (with more rentable units), the floor plates would need to be around 70 feet deep. As such, the building will hang over Union Station about ten feet and intrude into the light well (where the Great Hall's skylight is located) by another ten feet. I just don't get the design. It's a mess. At least the initial proposal attempted to pay tribute to the head house's grand architecture. Not anymore. They didn't even try to continue the lines of the original. I wouldn't even object to a contrasting design, if the design broke any new ground. This is just pedestrian; an insult, because it looks like they really didn't give a damn. Union Station is a registered city landmark, so perhaps we'll see some design revisions before they receive approval. If nothing else, the person responsible for producing the rendering did us the favor of disappearing 222 South Riverside.
  14. This is what you call going from bad to worse... img src - crain's chicago business This, to refresh memories, was the initial proposal img src - amtrak.com And this is the what the original architects envisioned- img src - chicagology.com
  15. Yes, the entire 75th Street Corridor Project will be completed in phases. The $132 million they received ($160 million requested) in INFRA grant money will go towards final design and construction of the Forest Hill (CSX) flyover, grade separation at 71st Street, just east of Western Avenue (Bell Ave./2200W), and improvements to Argo Yard and Argo and Canal Junction. Final design (but not construction) of Belt Junction and 80th Street Junction improvements, as well as the flyover for Metra-Southwest Service trains, were also part of the request in the INFRA application. According to the INFRA application, the anticipated timeline for the corridor improvements (pending funding) is as follows- -Argo Improvements complete by April, 2020. -Belt Junction and 80th Street Junction Improvements complete by April, 2023. -Forest Hill flyover and 71st Street grade separation complete by June, 2023. -Rock Island Connection (Southwest Service flyover) complete by November, 2023. EDIT - Grammar
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