Street Smart Chicago

Common Sense: Block 37, Where Are You?

City Life, Essays & Commentary, Transit Add comments

We all know the CTA, for the most part, is a mess. In the last few years, the system has began to choke on its own negligence—derailments, slow zones, investigations, budget crises and threats to cut bus lines (all coming at a time when more and more Chicagoans are turning to public transportation as a means to avoid skyrocketing gas prices). But never have the CTA’s—and Daley’s—disregard for civic necessity became more apparent than with the recent Block 37 debacle.

Put plainly, the CTA’s plan for Block 37 was to build a “superstation” for an express train that would whisk passengers to O’Hare in twenty minutes. Whoopee! People can’t get to work without crawling through a Red Line tunnel, but those who can actually afford to fly anymore will get to the airport in speedy luxury. Happy fucking day.

Apropos of most city development plans, the idea sprung from Daley’s well of pet projects. Now, with the project put on indefinite hold and $213 million down the shitter, it’s due time to start questioning the planning, the priorities and the common sense of those who thought this project would be a right idea at the right time. Because who would these express lines most serve? Two groups of people Daley seems most eager to please: traveling businessmen and tourists. And with no one around to so much as mildly oppose the mayor’s wishes, however ill-conceived (and this project in particular seemed to be designed and green-lighted on a cocktail napkin), the plan went full-steam ahead.

Imagine what a cool $213 million would have done for the CTA, if allocated properly. Maybe a safer system. Maybe a more efficient system. Instead, it’s the people trying to get around their own city, trying to get to work and school, who have to suffer while Daley dreams of a fantasy rail system that anyone with a level head could see was doomed to fail from the start. All this city has to show for its wasted money and efforts is a hole in the ground that either needs to be filled up (more money) or completed (way more money); neither scenario instills much optimism as the CTA limps into the second decade of the twentieth century. (Michael Moreci)

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