Fueling Chicago’s Economic Growth

Transportation and Infrastructure

Why We’re Involved

The strength of Chicago’s economy rests on its vast transportation network and the region’s future prosperity depends on the maintenance, modernization, and expansion of the system. Since its founding, the Civic Committee has recognized the importance of our interconnected set of transportation resources and has actively supported strengthening them.

What We’ve Done

In 2017, the Civic Committee formed a Transportation Task Force of 20 area executives to provide focus to our transportation policy and project priorities. The Task Force works with public officials and transportation stakeholders to promote its vision of an integrated transportation system that supports the Chicago area’s economic prosperity, protects our environmental assets, and fosters the well-being of all who live here.

The Task Force’s work is grounded in four key principles:

  • Invest Sustainably: Transportation should be funded with sustainable, long-term revenues that come from users’ fees. Funding should be sufficient to maintain and strategically improve the system, keeping pace with the full cost of building, operating, and maintaining infrastructure assets.
  • Connect Systems: Transportation needs to operate as a system, with all providers of transportation working together. Land use and comprehensive planning factors should be thoroughly considered before making investments.
  • Embrace Innovation: Technology and new approaches to transportation challenges present opportunities that our region should embrace through research, development, piloting, and implementation.
  • Efficient Governance and Funding Model: Transportation funding and projects should be allocated to projects through a transparent, data-driven process that ensures the best projects will be funded with the limited dollars available. Government agencies should embrace governance and operations models that deliver services in the most efficient way.

The Task Force is currently supporting two key transportation projects and two policy initiatives in 2019:

  • O’Hare International Airport
    O’Hare International Airport is a critical economic engine for the Chicago region, and the Civic Committee has long recognized the need to retain O’Hare’s position as a leading transportation hub and international gateway. Since the formation of our Aviation Task Force in 1989, we have played an integral role to support the airport, including our successful efforts to pass the O’Hare Modernization Program in 2003. Since that program began, four parallel runways have been opened or extended, with two more anticipated by the early 2020s.

    The Civic Committee continues to promote the completion of the O’Hare Modernization Program and the successful implementation of the $8.5 billion terminal rebuilding project.

  • CREATE Program and 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project (CIP)
    The 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project (CIP) is the single-most important element of CREATE (Chicago Regional Environmental and Transportation Efficiency program). CREATE is a broad partnership between the U. S. Department of Transportation, the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, Cook County, Metra, Amtrak, and the nation’s freight railroads. Its goal is to address critically needed improvements to increase the efficiency of the region’s passenger and freight rail infrastructure and to enhance the quality of life for Chicago-area residents.

    In 2018, the Civic Committee helped support a successful $132 million federal grant request to jumpstart the first phase of the 75th Street CIP. The Transportation Task Force supports the completion of the 75th CIP and other critical CREATE projects to bring improved passenger rail operations and increased efficiency and capacity to our nation’s freight system.

  • Performance-Based Programming
    Performance-based programming calls for allocating transportation dollars according to consistent and transparent evaluation criteria. Illinois lags behind other states in using data-driven, transparent funding, and project selection processes that are based on objective criteria aimed at maximizing performance and benefits of the transportation system.

    The Civic Committee supported work done by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to adopt performance management in 2017-2018 and continues to work with other stakeholders to require all recipients of transportation revenues to adopt performance-based programming processes.

  • Transportation Technology Adoption and Innovation
    New technologies have created opportunities to move people and goods more safely, efficiently, and cost-effectively. The Civic Committee has supported planning-level exercises throughout the Chicago metropolitan region to prioritize which technologies would best help Chicago achieve goals of improving safety, relieving congestion, reducing greenhouse gases emissions, and moving freight more efficiently.

    The Civic Committee Transportation Task Force supported the creation of and participated in the City of Chicago’s New Transportation and Mobility Task Force, chaired by former U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood. The task force’s report is the first attempt by the City of Chicago to comprehensively consider new mobility options and set out a timeline for study, piloting, and adoption of emerging transportation technologies.

How We Work

The Civic Committee’s Transportation Task Force supports its project and policy priorities by working with a diverse set of stakeholders and interests to create policies, funding, and actions that move these priorities ahead. The Task Force is currently building coalitions with business, labor, environmental, and planning groups to promote smart federal and state policies that meet the vision and principles the Task Force was created to bring about.

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