Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Discussions on converting Metra Electric to a rapid transit line


Found this article via Sloopin that was published on June 24. There is official interest in turning the Metra Electric Line into a rapid transit service with more frequent trains.
A proposal to convert the Metra Electric District Line into a rapid-transit line with more frequent stops to serve the South Side and suburbs has drawn the interest of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has asked the head of the Regional Transportation Authority to facilitate discussion on the issue, RTA officials said.

During the transit agency's monthly board meeting Thursday, Chairman Kirk Dillard told a representative of a coalition of South Side and south suburban groups that Emanuel had reached out to him about the rapid-transit idea last month, and that talks had begun.

Dillard said he spoke with Metra Chairman Martin Oberman about the proposal Wednesday.

"The RTA is working with the CTA and Metra," Dillard said after the meeting. "We need to get a handle obviously on the finances, as well as ridership numbers historically in that area. We're in the preliminary fact-finding stages."
We've been hearing about grassroots proposals to turn the Metric Electric (aka IC line) into a rapid transit service as opposed to a commuter rail service. It even has two different color designations such as the Gray or Gold Line.

Question to ask here is how this could benefit the many communities on the far south side if there was more frequent service on the Metra Electric line if CTA institutes more frequent service? This could very much benefit the neighborhoods of Pullman, Roseland, West Pullman, South Shore, South Chicago and perhaps even the near suburbs of Riverdale. And hopefully wouldn't take as much time to institute as finally building the CTA Red Line extension from 95th to 130th Streets.

BTW, part of me wishes that instead of using those double decker Metra coaches prevalent on all Metra lines if only it was possible to turn this into a typical third rail service instead of overhead traction. Perhaps find a way to connect this to the L system at some point. Perhaps more express service for Metra Electric & South Shore riders coming from the south suburbs and Indiana

Better yet if only such service could exist along the Metra Electric's South Shore and South Chicago branch and it could be converted to a third rail service. I realize these are all questions of later study and probably won't be instituted immediately. Even the Yellow Line aka Skokie Swift had been in service years before it was converted to a third rail traction line.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Lead testing at CPS

Originally posted at The Sixth Ward

In light of recent social media and blog posts about maintenance issues and lead issues at city schools we now see stories about lead testing of drinking water. Of course in an earlier post about lead poisoning shared here on this blog it was over lead based paint in some older schools.

The Sun-Times and DNA Info shares articles on this and also a listing of those schools tested for lead via CPS. In addition at DNA Info you see a google map that show which schools have testing positive for lead and those that have tested negative.

Also, the lead poisoning testing was noted on Capitol Fax in a post on Thursday where north side legislators and educators invited Governor Rauner to tour a school. Unfortunately this invitation was noted as a "stunt".

Because there is still no budget from Springfield CPS can't say if they are going to have summer school this year also via Capitol Fax. We also see a further debate regarding charter schools or even newer charter or otherwise.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

DNA Info: Put A Park, Not A Cell Tower, In Vacant Lot In Roseland, Residents Say


The pictures above were shot in April 2016 near 107th & King Drive of a vacant lot which as you see in the pic above is zoned for a cellphone tower. A group of Roseland activists want to see this turned into a park:
Members of the 9th Ward Greater Roseland Community Coalition said they fear the potential environmental and health threats the cell tower could bring to the empty lot at 107th Street between Vernon and Eberhart avenues.
...
The neighborhood coalition has been circulating petitions opposing the cellphone tower. Members said they want the land cleaned up and turned into a park and botanical garden.
Of course there's this:
The city did an environmental screen of the site in 2014 to identify any potential environmental concerns and said the site’s history of pollution doesn’t make it the best location for a garden.

"The site is listed as an abandoned service station, and available records identified several underground storage tank (UST) installations and removals dating back to 1953," a letter from Fleet Management to [9th ward Ald. Anthony] Beale reads. "In addition, at least three USTs were abandoned in place in 1984, and a demolition notice was issued in 1996. Although no releases have been reported for the Site, the majority of the USTs were removed or abandoned in the 1970s and early 1980s, prior to requirements to have spill protection, conduct confirmation sampling, or report releases."

The letter says that since there is no data available to confirm a release hasn't taken place, the tanks "present an environmental concern to the Site."

It was recommended that the site not be used as a community garden because there is “high potential for both current and historic USTs at the site.”

Bryant Payne, a spokesman for Beale, confirmed Friday that the land is contaminated and that before anything is built there, it would have to be cleaned up.
This is a nice lot that could see some use in the future. How successful will this group be in getting it cleaned up and hopefully a garden could be placed there instead of a cell tower?

Oh yeah a recent ig post about this lot below.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

From October 2015, photos along 103rd Street

Crossposted from The Sixth Ward

I realized that I failed to what I set out to do a few months ago. I wanted to do a photo essay and basically I started with taking some photos along 103rd Street. This was back in October and although I shared a few pics back then there were than that in my photo library.

For example, I have some pics taken east of King Drive on 103rd Street.
103rd & Rhodes
The pic above I knew at one time as the offices of Congressman Mel Reynolds. In 1995 he was caught up in a sex scandal with an underaged girl and was forced to resign. Unfortunately this property is now vacant and looking for a use since the time of Reynold's having his congressional offices here.

Across the street is a former dry cleaners. It's unclear when this particular building became vacant. Across the street from here is this.
103rd Street between Rhodes and St. Lawrence
In a different time this property had once been home to a McDonald's. That store eventually closed down and was ultimately demolished a with a church built instead.

Beyond this church and the former dry cleaners is this vacant lot.
103rd Street between Rhodes & St. Lawrence
I see this as potention for this part of 103rd and one of many undeveloped lots ready for the right development. To be sure 103rd is largely a commercial corridor and is quite walkable. With the right development it could be a very vibrant corridor.

Of course this is only an example of some of the pics I took in October 2016. I hope to share more of them in the future. And apologies for not sharing these much sooner. My goal is hopefully to come up with some ideas perhaps this part of town could use some bold vision and why not.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Yesterday on the Capitol Fax #notaprison

FYI: An update to this is seen on the Capitol Fax this morning one new pic of that classroom provided by a spokeswoman from CPS which is in better condition. Then from Kyle Hillman a more recent pic of the hallway which still doesn't look in that great of a condition. The pic of that classroom you see below was said to be from a DNA Info article from 2014 and we learn that CPS has a $3 billion deferred maintenance backlog.

It's been in the news that due to the current budget stalemate in Springfield, CPS may not open in September. You can follow a lot of the state budget news over at the Capitol Fax.

In the meanwhile CPS CEO Claypool took issue with Governor Rauner referring to Chicago Public Schools as crumbling prisons. I don't blame Forrest Claypool or any other figure named in that Capitol Fax post for sticking up for Chicago's schools. Unfortunately they are often maligned mostly for the right reasons and those students who attend public schools deserve to have someone lookout for them. It doesn't do them justice to be held hostage by a budget stalemate.

At that same time the Capitol Fax had another post regarding Claypool's comments. Rich Miller preferaced this post by saying the man with his own opinion - via this FB post - is no "Raunerite" but basically expresses his interest in fixing our neighborhood schools. I'll share a pic that makes the point of this pic look at teh state of disrepair.
Gale School - 1631 W Jonquil Terrace
This school is probably one example of many with issues of disrepair as the post noted lead paint peeling from the ceiling - this is a much older school. Also bad fire doors and broken fire alarms. Then what about services needed by students?
The school has been gutted by a funding formula CPS put in place. The school has no technology teachers, no librarians, after-school programs have been gutted and our social worker is hanging on by the grace of his nonprofit.

You know what they do get in Illinois Prisons? Library Services! Mental Health Services! Educational Services.
You see what happened there. What do CPS students get at this particular school versus what people who are incarcerated in prison gets? Then it goes further:
So yeah the Governor’s solution of REDUCING funds for CPS is madness, but what he said today wasn’t wrong. If Claypool doesn’t want his schools to be called worse than prisons… FIX THEM!

“Frankly, the Governor’s comments comparing Chicago schools to ‘crumbling prisons’ are disrespectful and beneath his office.” via Claypool.

You know what is really disrespectful and beneath (their) office? Allowing schools like this to happen, our Mayor owns this.
The next question is how many other schools have issues such as these. Not only a building in disrepair but not enough services educational or otherwise for students. I can believe that funding is an issue but that's certainly one one portion of many other issues in such a vast school district as CPS.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Marathon Pundit visits Pullman

Crossposted from The Sixth Ward
Hotel Florence by John Ruberry
John Ruberry of Marathon Pundit takes a look at the Pullman neighborhood and any progress made on the national monument here. Ruberry doesn't have much faith that the federal government will make far more progress here than the state government had. The state actually owns the Hotel Florence that you see above which is waiting for a new use.

He goes through the history of this neighborhood and any governmental role in the future of this neighborhood. Including the purchase of select property such as the Pullman factory, adminstrative buildings and the clock tower. Those in addition to the Hotel Florence.

He also noted the Bernie Sanders signs throughout the neighborhood. Sanders back in March lost the Illinois Democratic presidential primary to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton but we see one strong enclave of Sanders supporters. I even noted a sign on our ig page.

Ruberry has some strong opinions on what's going on here. Anyone want to agree or disagree with the Marathon Pundit?