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Evaluating Departing Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Planning Record

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a surprise announcement this week that he would not seek a third term in office.
September 6, 2018, 5am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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The Bloomingdale Trail
Antwon McMullen

John Greenfield followed the "bombshell" announcement that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel would not seek re-election with a post counting his administration's accomplishments in the realm of sustainable transportation and traffic safety.

Setting aside the other controversial aspects of Mayor Emanuel's time in office, Greenfield focuses on the list of accomplishments toward improving transit, bike, and pedestrian facilities around the city.

While the list is laudable, there's reason to critique Mayor Emanuel's work as well. Greenfield explains:

But as transportation analyst Yonah Freemark noted in a Twitter thread earlier today, Emanuel was also guilty of some failures and missed opportunities when it comes to improving Chicago transportation. Freemark argued that the mayor abandoned planning studies like the one to improve Museum Campus transit, and eventually slowed the pace of bike and pedestrian improvements. He also noted that the O’Hare express project, which was awarded to the increasingly erratic tech mogul Elon Musk, has been a major distraction, and that the mayor gave up on making some important improvements to bus service that could have helped reverse the declining bus ridership trend…

Greenfield concludes the article by speculating on the positions that candidates to replace Emanuel should focus on to present a robust sustainable transportation platform.

Meanwhile, in a separate article by Mark Brown, Mayor Emanuel shares his to-do list before leaving office. Notably, Mayor Emanuel's remaining goals include completing the Lakefront biking and running paths, picking an architect for the new international terminal at O'Hare, and completing a contract for a new train linking downtown to the airport.

For a review that focuses less on transportation and more on the history of development and planning during Mayor Emanual's tenure, see an article by Jay Koziarz.

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Published on Tuesday, September 4, 2018 in Streetsblog Chicago
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