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Quigley Hosts Roundtable on Sustainable Transportation in Chicago Region

Yesterday a number of heavy hitters in the local transportation scene showed up for a roundtable on sustainable transportation issues at the CTA headquarters hosted by U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) and University of Illinois President Robert A. Easter. Quigley, whose district, formerly presided over by Rahm Emanuel, covers a large swath of Chicago’s North Side and a few inner-ring suburbs, sits on the House Appropriations Committee and the Subcommittee for Transportation.

Stephen Schlickman, executive director of the Urban Transportation Center at UIC, moderated the roundtable. In addition to Quigley and Easter, participants included representatives of the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Chicago Department of Transportation, Chicago Area Clean Cities Initiative, the Active Transportation Alliance, the CTA, and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.

At the beginning of the meeting, reporters were given a chance to ask questions. I asked Quigley whether he supports the CTA’s plan to repurpose car lanes for bus rapid transit on Ashland Avenue, which runs though his district. While he seemed to support the idea, he said he’s been hearing concerns from residents about the street reconfiguration, which also includes the prohibition of most left turns. “A lot of my constituents aren’t dead-set against it,” he said. “I don’t see adamant opposition, just legitimate concerns that we need to address.”

Schlickman said BRT, along with other local initiatives like the Red Line rehab and the Divvy bike-share system, reflects a shift in priorities from from the car-centric recent past. “The challenge we have in Chicago and in our nation is that since World War II, well into the 1990s, we had a predominance of one mode of transportation policy and that was serving automobiles and truck traffic,” he said. “The tremendous growth that we had in our highway and road infrastructure certainly served our economy well but it really didn’t put us in the most sustainable position in the long run. It’s created a tremendous imbalance for one mode of transportation and we need to address that imbalance.”
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