A big ghost of urban planning past is returning to Chicago.
The Loop "Connector," an ambitious public transit plan that has been discussed and discarded by city officials for decades, is the subject of a new report being developed by the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Chicago Central Area Committee, a Downtown planning group.
The report's steering committee will meet next week after securing more than $100,000 supporting the study, Chicago Central Area Committee Executive Director Kelly O'Brien said.
The Connector, which was first proposed in the 1970s, would connect the east and west sides of the Loop via train, and add new stations at presently unconnected destinations, including Navy Pier and the Museum Campus.
While it sounds enticing, it also sounds pretty unlikely. We're fortunate that people are willing to see the big picture, but we're not optimistic that the necessary government agencies could pull something like this off.
But regardless it's fun to dream. The image on the right pretty much speaks for itself. At the idea's core, a new CTA El line would intersect various existing lines. The major selling point is that the new line would better connect the Metra lines to the El lines as well as provide one train access to Navy Pier, Museum Campus and McCormick Place (which is seems like a no brainer given the amount of tourists each attract from around the area).
From a loop standpoint, this could also mean some new stations that could better serve our neighborhood. The map above shows a new stop at Roosevelt and Wells, Museum Campus, 18th street and McCormick place. The last three stops would be a pretty big deal since it would better connect the southeast portion of the neighborhood (albiet also probably make it more crowded and noisy compared to its current state which is tranquil and quiet).
The plan also shows a potential "south loop" of the El which could also create a line that seems to follow Wells south and would have a stop at 18th street and then turn left at Cermak (and utilize the new Green line stop at Cermak). While this seems even more unlikely, it could dovetail with the city's plan to build the Wells/Wentworth connector (seems like there would potentially be some efficiencies if you were building a road and train track at the same time).
Anyway, this all feels like a pipe dream. Or could it be a revolutionary solution for Mayor Emmanuels desire to provide better access to museum campus?
Obviously his focus is on his re-election, but wasn't he the one who said "you never want a serious crisis to go to wasted."
While this might not be a "crisis", maybe he can drum up the support to solve this problem.