The Chicago Transit Board today approved two ordinances that will allow the Chicago Transit Authority to move forward with plans for two separate Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) projects.
An inter-governmental agreement (IGA) and a consulting contract will advance the progress of BRT along the Jeffery and Western corridors respectively.
BRT is a special form of bus service that is aimed at providing faster, more efficient, and more reliable service than an ordinary bus line. Two common features of BRT are dedicated bus lanes and transit signal prioritization.
“Bus Rapid Transit offers a variety of bus service designs aimed at providing faster, more efficient and more reliable bus service,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “These steps help the CTA accomplish its overall goal of improving the best and most efficient service possible.”
After thorough project and design development and public open houses, CTA is entering into an IGA in order to begin major construction along the Jeffery corridor scheduled to being in the Spring of 2012. The Jeffery corridor stretches from 67th Street to 103rd Street
The IGA for Jeffery BRT is between the CTA and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and will allow the two agencies to work cooperatively on the project.
Street improvements and construction along the Jeffery corridor will be the responsibility of CDOT. Those items include information kiosks and street furniture such as landscaping and bike racks. Construction will include street, sidewalk, lighting and signal improvements, pavement markings and signage, customer boarding areas, ADA ramps, and the installation of software to time signal prioritization.
The agencies will collaborate on construction, operation and maintenance elements of the Jeffery BRT project. The CTA and CDOT will develop jointly all plans and specifications necessary for the project. The CTA will also purchase an interior bus LCD screen displaying real-time travel information, and upgrade the exterior appearance of the buses by introducing new designs, colors and lighting features to existing CTA vehicles.
Jeffery BRT is funded by an $11 million Federal Bus and Bus Facilities Livability Grant which was awarded to the CTA in 2010. The grant money covers the expenses of all project phases including the procurement, construction and maintenance items outlined in the CTA and CDOT agreement.
A second contract was also approved allowing the CTA to move forward with planning for BRT along the Western Corridor which includes Western and Ashland Avenues between Howard and 95th streets. After a competitive bidding process, the Chicago Transit Board approved a contract with Camp Dresser & McKee in the amount of $1.6 million. The entire contract amount is funded by a Federal Transit Administration grant previously awarded to the CTA.
The professional consulting firm will assist the CTA with conducting an Alternative Analysis study which is required by the FTA for future implementation of BRT. The study will determine the feasibility of BRT along the Western corridor, including an analysis of both Western and Ashland Avenues. The study process will take approximately 12-18 months to complete, with other required studies to follow. Actual construction of Western BRT would not begin until at least 2015.
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