Amtrak land development in Chicago

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by DSS&A, Oct 2, 2019.

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  1. Oct 2, 2019 #1

    DSS&A

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    DSS&A

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    Amtrak is moving forward with development of its property in downtown Chicago. The Amtrak Parking garage closed on September 30th and construction baracades for the demolition of the multi-level parking structure are already set-up on the adjacent streets. A new office building and a smaller parking structure, that will have a park plaza above the parking deck, is to be built in its place. Here is a news article about what will be built.

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/chicag...-bmo-tower-parking-garage-closed-construction
     
  2. Oct 2, 2019 #2

    MikeM

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    I'm sorry, but this whole development seems monumentally stupid to me. Chicago is a major hub for Amtrak, and they're eliminating parking for passengers, availability of rental cars, and growth potential for additional trains and services. Short term thinking. The current garage seemed to be in fine condition, in no major danger of collapse or anything, the biggest issues were leaks in the ceiling in the hallway from the station to the garage, but that's maintenance.
     
  3. Oct 2, 2019 #3

    Trogdor

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    Giant parking garages in the middle of downtown Chicago is what’s monumentally stupid.
     
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  4. Oct 2, 2019 #4

    Qapla

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    I lived in Waukegan back when I was 4-7 years old. I was back in Chicago for a visit in 1970 and have not been there since ... I wouldn't mind a visit

    According to the article:

     
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  5. Oct 2, 2019 #5

    railiner

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    The think is, Amtrak must look to supplement their income, from whatever resource they have. They do have to balance between what would yield them the most revenue, and at what cost that would have on their service. In the extreme, they very well might make a whole lot more by selling all their Chicago assets to developers, into more lucrative uses, but then where would they operate from....somewhere in between is the ideal balance...
     
  6. Oct 2, 2019 #6

    MikeM

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    The point that I was getting at originally is that I question if this development really is helping Amtrak in the long term. Yes, it's nice they are earning additional station revenue from this. However, how many individuals will be less likely to take the train if it means they have to find parking a block or two away from Union Station and then hoof it around downtown. Moreover, is the revenue going to support the LD network and that segment of the business, or will it disappear into the NEC budget?

    To be clear, I am a big supporter of the redevelopment of the station itself, adding hotel rooms, office space in the main terminal, etc. All that is a great move. Tearing down the head house in the 70's and creating the rat maze we currently have was a short term decision that has caused issues for us and will continue to undermine the station's usefulness.
     
  7. Oct 3, 2019 #7

    Trogdor

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    My personal hunch: Close to none.
     
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  8. Oct 3, 2019 #8

    Pere Flyer

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    Using urban land for car storage is counter to the geometric laws that make a city successful. The removal of this 700-unit structure was a good action.
    Building a car storage structure in the new development, on the other hand…
     
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  9. Oct 3, 2019 #9

    cirdan

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    My take is that for people who are likely to drive to Amtrak using their own car, Union Station is not the most attractive option anyway. Most LD trains that start in Chicago have at least one further stop in Chicagoland, typically in a location that is much easier to drive to without risking losing your train because of urban congestion. Wouldn't it be cheaper to encourage car driving customrs to come there and offer appropriate parking and lounge facilities, and keep Union Station for those using taxis, public transit, walking etc, which are all inherently more sensible ways of moving around in a large and dense city.
     
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  10. Oct 3, 2019 #10

    cirdan

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    The distances people hoof around in airports is way more than two or three Chicago blocks. It hasn't stopped people from flying.
     
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  11. Oct 3, 2019 #11

    Devil's Advocate

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    Chicago's odd mix of clumsily interconnected last mile infrastructure has indeed deterred me from traveling there in the winter. The slick and slushy walkways and windblown ice shard blast can make outdoor travel a mess. The problem with losing on-premises connections is that the next closest location is often found a bit too far for a tourist to easily traverse in adverse conditions, and yet not quite far enough for a local driver to take the fare seriously. Regardless of what you think about CUS in particular, Amtrak has serious last mile problems all across the country. This is especially true for solo travelers and tourists traveling beyond the reach of friends and family, and only seems to be getting worse over time.
     
  12. Oct 4, 2019 #12

    Trogdor

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    Amtrak has last-mile problems because this country has last-mile problems. Properly built urban centers are unfortunately exceedingly rare in this country, and where they do exist, they are largely in areas where different railroads and transit operations were competing with each other and thus never had any incentive to make connectivity an actual thing.

    Since then, we’ve let our infrastructure fall apart, or, at best, just barely maintain what we have. Meanwhile, private interests have bought up most, if not all, of the land near the stations, thus driving up the cost of reconfiguring the networks for better connectivity.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2019
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  13. Oct 4, 2019 #13

    cirdan

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    It's a great pity that CUS is not directly served by any subway route. Of course the distance is easily walkable by the fit and able, but if we consider those lugging heavy bags, let alone those with mobility impairment, families with small kids, or people who are just tired, people who don't know the way etc, the present situation is really not fitting for such an important station in such an important city.

    I have at times mused that the solution might be a streetcar circulator that links CUS with the most important points within the loop.
     
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  14. Oct 4, 2019 #14

    railiner

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    Of the six major Chicago station's, only the original LaSalle Street Station had a direct link to rapid transit (the Loop El)...and when they relocated it South, it lost that.

    In 1970, the "Northwest Passage" was built to connect the Northwestern Station (Ogilvie) with the Lake Street 'El'...
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2019
  15. Oct 4, 2019 #15

    Eric S

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    The Chicago Central Area Circulator plans from the 1990s involved just that; alas it was canceled when the state portion of the federal-state-city funding mix fell through.
     
  16. Oct 5, 2019 #16

    DSS&A

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    As recall, the Chicago Light Rail project was to be funded 1/3 by the City of Chicago, 1/3 by the State of Illinois and 1/3 by private funds (downtown business mostly). The Illinois State portion of the funding "fell through" because of a battle over control of O'Hare Airport. The City of Chicago controlled and operated both Midway and O'Hare airports and thus handled many operating items including bidding and awarding all contracts related to the operations. The State of Illinois tried to take over the control of the airport operations (I think it was by creating a type of oversight agency). The Mayor of Chicago talked with the Mayor of Gary, Indiana (which has an airport) to create a type of joint airport agengy. Because Gary is in another state, Illinois could not create a state-only "oversight or controlling agency". So, because of this, the State of Illinois withdrew its funding pledge for the Chicago Light Rail Project.

    Look up old newspaper articles to find out more details about what happened.
     
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  17. Oct 5, 2019 #17

    Metra Electric Rider

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    Now that the Old Main PO is getting close to open and occupied (Uber and Walgreen's are taking massive swaths of space) and with this new building the route to the Clinton stop from CUS will be cleaner in winter and safer and a heck of a lot busier. I think that it's going to have to get some major renovations such as an elevator. But since it's one of the deepest stations (where the tunnels dip to go under the river) it's going to be a long construction project, especially if it's kept open.
     
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  18. Oct 5, 2019 #18

    DSS&A

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    Amtrak's parking deck was built exactly where it was on the property to allow a three-track light rail station to be built between the parking deck and Jackson Boulevard. In affect, the light rail line has been built as an Express Bus Circulator with a three-lane Union Station bus terminal instead of a three-track light rail terminal.
     
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  19. Oct 5, 2019 #19

    Metra Electric Rider

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    Interesting observation. I would suspect (and expect) that any new transit development to be BRT Lite, which has caught the fancy of transit planners and transit advocates in Chicago for some reason.
     
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  20. Oct 5, 2019 #20

    neroden

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    The redevelopment of the garage block includes a passenger tunnel, fully enclosed, to the southwest corner of the block. They are looking for funding to extend it one block to Clinton Street Blue Line. So this development is improving the last mile situation.

    (Sadly the Ogilvie to Green Line enclosed connection was demolished a few years ago)
     
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  21. Oct 15, 2019 #21

    pennyk

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    I have 4 upcoming trips where I will pass through Chicago. Today I received 4 emails (one for each trip) identifying my reservation number, date, train name and train number informing me of the parking garaage closure.
    Below is text of email without identifying information:
     
  22. Oct 15, 2019 #22

    Bob Dylan

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    Was I asleep when September 30th came and went 2 weeks ago???:rolleyes:
     
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  23. Oct 15, 2019 #23

    jis

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    I got my stash of emails too on this matter, related to the trip to and from the AU Gathering through Chicago.
     
  24. Oct 16, 2019 #24

    Metra Electric Rider

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    There is another parking garage coming down near Millennium(AKA Randolph St) at the moment for a high rise (if not terribly tall, only like 20 something floors). Seems to be the trend in the Loop and Loop adjacent areas - another surface lot is about to become housing in the Loop (SW corner Van Buren & Wabash).
     
  25. Oct 17, 2019 #25

    NorthShore

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    Interesting. I'm ticketed, I believe, on one of the same trains as Penny, and have received nothing. Considering that my trip actually begins in Chicago, one would think I'd be the more likely traveler they'd need to inform.
     

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