High Profile Opposition to Chicago Transit Authority's Flyover Project

A Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic invokes the most influential planning battles in the country's history in critiquing the proposed Red-Purple Bypass Project sought by the Chicago Transit Authority and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
May 20, 2014, 10am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Chicago Tribune Architecture Critic Blair Kamin writes a strong critique of a proposal to build a flyover bypass for the Brown Line where it crosses the Red and Purple lines on Clark Street near Wrigley Field in Chicago.

"The $320 million proposal, which would wipe out 16 buildings, is a miniature version of the havoc Moses and other highway builders wreaked on urban neighborhoods decades ago. It is also, in light of the minor benefits it offers, frighteningly expensive," writes Kamin.

Kamin asks of a proposed flyover that would be 40 to 45 feet tall at its highest point: "Who would want such a blight slicing through their neighborhood?"

Moreover, it seems that the actual delay of trains through the intersection has been called into question. Writes Kamin: "When the proposal surfaced last month, the mayor claimed it would eliminate a 'three- to four-minute wait' at Clark Junction. That statement was incomplete. As CTA officials told me Thursday, their studies show that the delays range from 30 seconds to four minutes. The average delay, they acknowledged, is just 84 seconds."

An earlier report by Ben Javorsky also suggested that the CTA and Mayor Rahm Emanual had exaggerated the wait time at the project's announcement. Javorsky took several trains through the intersection and found any delay to be much shorter than three to four minutes.

The conclusion of Javorsky and Kamin is that the questionable benefit of the project is not worth its cost. Here's how Javorsky puts it: "In a perfect world, I'd say, go ahead, Mayor Emanuel—take that $320 million and build that bad boy….Alas, this world is far from perfect. In this case, the CTA is talking about a headache of a project that will involve buying up and tearing down 16 buildings, which would displace dozens of residents and businesses. The eminent domain lawyers are undoubtedly licking their chops."

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Published on Sunday, May 18, 2014 in Chicago Tribune
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