Archive for the ‘Railroad Links’ Category

Union Station, Springfield IL featured on new blog page

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

Union Station, Springfield IL

Union Station, Springfield IL. Click above to go to the Springfield Union Station blog page

On the September 23rd, I had the pleasure of leading a group of La Grange IL middle school students on a trip to Springfield, Illinois. On a break when I had some free time, I took a close look at Springfield’s Union Station. I published pictures of this visit in an album on my Facebook page last week. I have now used those same photos on a dedicated Springfield Union Station blog page with a lot more background information than on the Facebook album.

This new Union Station page is part of my ongoing attempts to add more exclusive content to I will be adding more articles, photos, and research-in-progress projects as time goes on. I would appreciate your feedback about what you like, your critical concerns, and what you would like to see more of in the future. Feel free to comment on this post, send an email to: Or Contact Me Here:
You can also send me a twitter message Follow windycityroad on Twitter or call me at 312-432-1284.

Route 66 Detour in Chicago Starting June 1, 2009

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

The warning signs of an impending closure of Jackson Boulevard (eastbound Route 66) have been up for several weeks now, and it will become a reality tomorrow morning after rush hour:

Jackson Blvd. stretch to close Monday A.M. – Chicago Breaking News

Quoting from the Tribune article:

Jackson Boulevard between Canal Street and Wacker Drive is scheduled to close after Monday morning’s rush period for major bridge repairs.

Traffic will be affected as work begins to rebuild the Jackson viaduct spanning Union Station’s south passenger platforms and 16 tracks, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation.

On the website for the Chicago Transit Authority, it is noted that the work on Jackson is expected to last until April 2010. Although only one block of Jackson is being rebuilt, it is a tricky section because it is a viaduct that rises from ground level at Clinton Street to pass above the railroad tracks of Union Station. East of the construction zone is the Jackson double bascule bridge over the Chicago River.

What does this mean to the Route 66 traveler? Well, if you drive into Chicago on Route 66 eastbound, you will be unaffected all the way to the block that contains Lou Mitchell’s restaurant. You will then need to detour, either by turning south at Clinton Street or north at Canal Street.  I would suggest that the best detour would likely be south on Clinton one block to Van Buren, east (left) on Van Buren across the river to Wacker Drive, north (left) on Wacker back to Jackson, then east (right) on Jackson the rest of the way to the end of 66 at Lake Shore Drive. Westbound Route 66 will not be affected, since it travels on Adams Street.

How the 2016 Olympic Bid affects needed Chicago Planning initiatives

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Last fall, I wrote an academic paper entitled Planning Chicago: A Century of Lessons. The paper touched on many planning subjects and initiatives, including mass transit, green technology, and rail freight improvements. The following excerpt deals specifically with the 2016 Olympia Bid and its dangers:

Currently, the city of Chicago is using a bid for the 2016 Olympics to jump-start many planning initiatives, hoping that the potential prestige of the games will convince state and federal politicians to fund mass transit and infrastructure improvements. MarySue Barrett, president of the nonprofit Metropolitan Planning Council, states, “The Olympics force you to be forward-looking in thinking. People need to think about it not as a one-time event but as a preparation for the next wave of residential and commercial investment and corporate relocation and expansion” (Krohe, July 2007, p. 50). Advocates of the Olympic bid are hoping that the games will be the “Big Plan” that will unite state residents, business leaders, and politicians of both political parties behind the Chicago region’s needed infrastructure improvements…

Our current reliance on using the 2016 Olympic bid to create results is a gamble that might backfire if another city succeeds in landing the Olympics. The city of Chicago is hoping that their attempt to become the host city for the 2016 summer Olympic Games will influence the state and national legislators to fund needed transportation improvements for the Chicago region… The concern is that a negative response to Chicago’s bid might have a cascading negative effect on…needed initiatives. Since the Olympic bid is being put forward as the impetus for these programs, will a Chicago failure in the Olympic pursuit lead to a lack of support for the infrastructure improvements?

As a region, Chicago must unite behind planning initiatives on their own merit in order to ensure their adoption and completion. Their benefits far outweigh the short-term gains of a successful Olympics bid, and they are too important to ignore if the Olympic bid is unsuccessful. All sectors of society stand to gain from planning improvements, and most lose if we fail. Eventually, problems must be solved, and the cost of doing so in the future is much greater, and the benefit much smaller, than if the problems are tackled now. We must not only make “no little plans,” we must act on the plans that we make.

The entire paper can be viewed as a pdf here.

The Roads that Lead to Lincoln

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Click for a look inside Roads that Lead to Lincoln
2009 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. Since November 2008, I have been traveling to Chicago area libraries presenting a PowerPoint program, The Roads that Lead to Lincoln, a look at Lincoln’s life in Illinois and his contributions to the development of the state through his politics and law practice. The last half of the program is a travelogue of historic sites related to Lincoln that can be seen along three of the National Scenic Byways of Illinois: Route 66, The Great River Road, and the Lincoln Highway.

The amount of information that I amassed during my research was much more than I could use in a one-hour slide show, so I decided to write a companion book that would allow for greater detail. I have been selling copies of The Roads that Lead to Lincoln: Finding Honest Abe on the Historic Highways of Illinois at my programs since January 2009, and I now have it available on this web site’s Gift Shop page as well. Please take a look and order a couple dozen copies!

Hopes for new high-speed rail

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

Here is an interesting article from Eugene Kane of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Future is now for high-speed rail – JSOnline

Don’t forget our relationship with the giant metropolis to the south, the City of Big Shoulders. Most cities would die for the chance to connect with Chicago on a regular basis, but in Milwaukee you’re at the mercy of an abbreviated train schedule or a two-hour drive that was exacerbated last summer due to confounding I-94 construction.

Bottom line, there’s got to be a better way.

The potential for the current stimulus package from the federal government to be the seed money for high-speed rail lines connecting Milwaukee to Chicago is well-discussed here. I will be writing more on this subject–important as we finally understand how wrong-headed we were to dismantle most of our surface rail passenger transportation network in the second half of the 20th century. This subject is dealt with in detail in my PowerPoint presentation, No Little Plans: The Roads of Daniel Burnham’s Plan of Chicago.