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Integrating Context Sensitive Solutions in Transportation Planning

2030 Regional Transportation Plan for Northeastern Illinois

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Chicago Area Transportation Study

Chicago Region, Illinois

> Graphic. Logo of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.

The Chicago Area Transportation Study (CATS) serves as the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) for the Chicago region. In the fall of 2006, CATS staff merged with the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission to integrate land-use and transportation planning, thus forming the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP). Already one of the largest metro areas in the United States, the Chicago region's population is projected to increase by 1.8 million by 2030. Growth in population and development is anticipated both in established and newly urbanizing areas.

The region has a diverse population, including groups that have been traditionally under-represented in the transportation planning process. In order to better include these groups in the 2030 plan, CATS partnered with the Center for Neighborhood Technology, a community development organization, during the public-involvement process to tap their considerable experience with and knowledge of minority and low-income communities.

The Chicago region remains an important national and international trade and transportation hub. The transportation system's freight facilities include 20 major rail/truck terminals, 3 major water-terminal clusters, and 17 public-use airports. These facilities are important factors in planning for the region's economy, travel safety, and environmental quality and thus receive consideration throughout the plan. The region has a serious air-quality problem, and is addressing ground-level ozone and particulate pollution. Consideration is also given to other types of valued natural resources that may be affected by transportation improvements. These resources are mapped along with the various recommended projects and improvements, ensuring they are considered during project development. Aging transportation infrastructure is also an important issue for the region. The plan discusses the need to balance maintaining existing infrastructure with keeping open options for flexible responses to changing travel patterns.

CSS Highlights

Based on Adopted CSS Policy: The plan expressly includes the CSS principles of enhancing quality of the environment and of communities in the recommendations made for the regional transportation system. The plan positions CSS in the regional planning process by highlighting the fact that regional facilities are hosted by communities. A major plan objective is to encourage project implementation that uses CSS principles, especially in urban areas where impacts to established communities can be substantial, complex, and numerous. In introducing major capital projects, the plan notes the need for "thorough context-sensitive design and management and operations plans."

Safety for Both the User and the Community: Among the major concepts that came out of the plan development process was that regional transportation policy should promote public health and safety beyond lowering crash rates. In response, the plan calls for consideration of air- and water-quality impacts, includes design recommendations to improve safety for nonmotorized users, and promotes walking and cycling as a part of healthier lifestyles. The plan recommends that projects should routinely accommodate nonmotorized modes on arterials, provide the facilities that will support "Safe Routes to School," and take special care to correct and avoid hazards created by vehicular traffic in community settings or shared-use facilities.

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Updated: 07/01/2014
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