Fueling Chicago’s Economic Growth
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.
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:
The Task Force is currently supporting the following transportation projects and policy initiatives:
The transportation Task Force has worked with government leaders, non-profit organizations, and business groups to address the immediate transportation challenges of the pandemic. These efforts have improved safety of the transportation network, especially on mass transit, increased access to data and modelling of transportation system needs, enhanced communication and coordination with the business community.
The Civic Committee has also helped place transportation at the center of city, regional, and state recovery planning efforts. Members of the Transportation Task Force have participated in several recovery planning efforts, including Mayor Lightfoot’s COVID-19 Recovery Task Force report and the Central City Recovery Roadmap. COVID-19 recovery work continues through other efforts and the specific policy and project priorities highlighted below.
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.
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.
The Civic Committee supports efforts that will require the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to adopt a comprehensive performance management system and continues to work with other stakeholders to require all recipients of transportation revenues to adopt performance-based programming processes. In 2021, the Illinois General Assembly passed legislation supported by the Task Force that will implement performance-based programming at IDOT and the transit agencies in the Chicago region.
The Civic Committee joined other organizations in jumpstarting a re-evaluation of capital spending by the three transit agencies operating in the Chicago region. Funding levels and investments strategies have been largely based on static, fixed formulas that are a roadblock to a more coordinated, flexible, and efficient mass transit system. In 2021 and 2022, the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) will reform their funding allocation strategies in response to these efforts.
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 gas 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 helped bring new mobility options to Chicago and is helping inform other city and region-wide planning exercises that will guide Chicago’s post-COVID recovery. The Task Force is also supporting efforts to electrify transportation in the Chicago region and State of Illinois. The transition to a more electric fleet of vehicles presents an opportunity to create new jobs by harnessing our region’s strong manufacturing base, growing technology sector, and top-tier academic and research institutions.
Transit agencies in Chicago will need to operate in a coordinated and nimble fashion as this current health crisis subsides. The pilot program’s innovative approach to goals like coordinated service among all providers, unified fare media, and access to jobs for vulnerable populations will help build skills our transit agencies can use to adapt to the changing transportation environment in a post-COVID world.
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.
In 2020, the Civic Committee helped create the Metropolitan Civic Leadership Alliance, a unique group of organizations like the Civic Committee operating in nine major metropolitan regions. The group works together on federal transportation and COVID-19 recovery initiatives, promoting federal investment and policy decisions that will help foster inclusive economic growth in the nation’s largest metro regions.