IDOT arch sees severe destiny down a road

Ann Schneider, Illinois’ initial womanlike transport secretary, has spent roughly 25 years in state supervision putting a public’s income to work.

Schneider is completing her seventh month streamer adult a Illinois Department of Transportation, as the subsequent sovereign transport appropriation check is being hold warrant in Congress. Available state appropriation for roads won’t cover repairs, let alone financial enlargement projects indispensable to palliate trade congestion.

All of that means to Schneider, 51, whose credentials is mercantile routine and planning, that it’s time to find artistic solutions. She sees opportunities, from improving mass movement to exploring ways to revoke overload on highways.

  • Jon Hilkevitch: Getting Around
  • Jon Hilkevitch: Getting Around

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Your Getting Around contributor sat down with Schneider final week during a mangle in a rail apparatus manufacturers’ discussion geared toward modernizing a Midwest’s aging newcomer rail automobile fleet. An edited twin of a talk follows.

Q: The rarely narrow-minded discuss in Congress over a cost and range of a subsequent sovereign transport check contingency be creation your pursuit formidable in terms of formulation for a prolonged tenure and even for a tentative refurbish this open of a state’s highway alleviation program. How are we traffic with a impasse?

A: We have concerns about a House bill, generally in terms of what happens with mass movement and Amtrak, as good as on a highway side. we listened this morning that there are 270 amendments to a House bill, so we consider it will be awhile before they work by a whole process. We wish Congress can qualification a check that creates clarity for all of a nation and generally here in Illinois on transport investments, that are vicious to ensuring that a economy keeps relocating forward.

Q: Can we yield a preview of what’s in a state roads module that we will announce in April?

A: It’s going to be a fix-it-first-type program. We’re still carrying out a Illinois Jobs Now collateral alleviation bill, and so we’ve got a large cube of that investment that we are also going to be making. The other partial of a program, a pay-as-you-go piece, is going to be unequivocally most focused on only upkeep and repair. We’re going to have singular ability to understanding with overload use in a multiyear module that we put out in April.

Q: So with no vital enlargement in alley ability for a foreseeable future, a purpose of mass movement and commuter rail will be some-more vicious than ever?

A: Transit is a pivotal to ensuring travelling reliability, creation it available and enhancing a supplement experience. Metra is purchasing new cars. When people do make a change from cars to trains, they are going to start appreciating and feeling some-more gentle on that service. The same form of newcomer compensation is already function on Pace‘s bus-on-shoulder beginning on Interstate 55. Pace has a restrained direct for that use since it’s indeed some-more available and it has lowered transport times to downtown and behind out. And they are manager buses with Wi-Fi availability. It’s a good experience.

Q: Illinois has depressed approach behind other some-more on-going states in embracing high-occupancy-vehicle lanes to palliate highway overload or user fees to get some-more enlargement projects done. What are some of a off-the-shelf solutions that you’ve seen elsewhere and that we unequivocally need to implement?

A: We as a Department of Transportation are going to have to work some-more closely with a Illinois Tollway sister agency. The ability to residence overload or do some complement enlargement doesn’t seem possibly given a resources we have. We have 16,000 miles of roads and 8,000 bridges that IDOT is obliged for. Even in a strong year, when we have $2 billion in a pay-as-you-go program, it doesn’t go a prolonged approach to residence a needs of that expanded system. Working with a tollway will be partial of a answer.

Q: The tollway is study a intensity for formulating demonstrate lanes on a Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (Interstate 90) and charging drivers a reward to use it for a faster outing between Rockford and a area around O’Hare International Airport. The income would be used in partial to finance sight fast movement on a Addams corridor. But what would occur easterly of O’Hare where a Addams becomes a Kennedy Expressway?

A: We are trying, unequivocally preliminarily, to demeanour during what some of a options competence be to lift that (express lanes and sight fast movement lanes) into downtown. The Kennedy is unequivocally most landlocked, and there are earthy constraints on what we can do there. We need to start meditative creatively about what we can do to yield for a high-occupancy car lanes, yield for a sight fast movement and boost mobility in northeastern Illinois.

Q: The city of Chicago is articulate about carrying most larger atmosphere ability in a destiny during O’Hare International Airport if and when a runway enlargement devise is completed. Meanwhile, a due south suburban airfield nearby Peotone in Will County is substantially a most-studied airfield judgment in U.S. aviation history. Will a Chicago segment ever need that airport?

A: Our direct models uncover there still is restrained direct in a marketplace that Peotone would serve. The airfield is vicious in addressing those ability needs in that area. We are creation swell in terms of a master plan, and we’ve purchased about 50 percent of a acreage indispensable for a starter airport. We will continue to work on a technical studies and a land acquisition.

Q: Work continues on Illinois’ initial higher-speed newcomer rail corridor. When will passengers start roving on a new trains able of roving adult to 110 mph that will reinstate a decades-old Amtrak trains?

A: We are operative with a California Department of Transportation on procurement. They have knowledge in this area. They have finished a ask for information. The wish is to have a ask for proposals out in Apr for a bi-level newcomer rail cars. The buying for a locomotives will follow shortly. The wish is that we can start holding smoothness in early 2015 to embark 110 mph use on a Chicago-to-St. Louis corridor. We are unequivocally vehement about a event here. We’ve seen a ridership boost by 80 percent in only 6 years. we consider a projected increases in gas prices and race will interpret into increasing direct for newcomer rail service.

Q: But what do we contend to critics who, even if they accept a thought that a U.S. needs a healthy newcomer rail mode, a track complement in a Midwest only doesn’t have a fad or pizazz that California has or that Florida potentially had on a Tampa-to-Orlando track before that module was killed. Here, we are articulate about St. Louis, Detroit. A lot of people disagree that these are failing cities and because are taxpayers investing billions of dollars for a transport mode share that’s less than 1 percent?

A: The intrastate routes that we have here in Illinois are unequivocally important. The Chicago-Champaign-Carbondale track is unequivocally most centered around colleges and a universities. We see a lot of direct from tyro passengers in those areas. The Chicago-to-St. Louis track is a premier route. we went to take a sight a few weeks ago during a snowstorm, and it was sole out. we consider some-more people will see a practicality of providing that option.

Q: You transport around a state in your job. But what’s your personal invert like when we are going to work in Springfield?

A: we live out in a country, about 25 miles from my office. we like to practice in a morning, so we get adult early and expostulate into Springfield. It’s a multiple of pushing on a widespread and state routes. we live on a municipality road.

Q: An IDOT orator told me we are also a equine buff. So your seductiveness in transport goes over wheels.

A: Yes, we have dual horses, and we adore them. They are roving horses. And we do possess partial of a racehorse.

Contact Getting Around during jhilkevitch@tribune.com or c/o a Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611; on Twitter @jhilkevitch; and during facebook.com/jhilkevitch. Read new columns during chicagotribune.com/gettingaround.


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