Monday, June 19, 2006

Chicago's Circle IV - What To Do About The North Side

Check the Recent Posts at left, or go to this link to catch up on the previous numbers in this series about the proposed rapid transit Chicago's Circle line.

We have talked about the section that would take the old Douglas Park "L" north to Lake Street on what used to be the Metropolitan West Side Elevated but is now known as the Paulina Connector. We have also talked about the section that would be new track from the south end of the north-south leg of the Douglas Park "L" south to Ashland-Archer on the Orange (Midway) Line. We have even talked about our suggested extension of this service to the old Stock Yards to Kenwood ROW along 40th Street to complete a true connection with most South Side transit routes.

The North Side section, as originally proposed, seems the most problematic to us. (Problematic means that to choose this option means you will automatically have problems.)

This proposal calls for the first two sections to link to the Red Line (State Street Subway) at North and Clybourn, a subway stop. The way to get there, according to the plan, is to build a subway from Ashland and Lake to North, then east to North and Clybourn.

We get queasy when we try to think of how the planners are going to get trains from the "L" structure level at Paulina down to subway levels at Ashland, a distance of approximately 1/10 mile, but stranger things have been done in Chicago. (About a 60 foot drop in 530 feet is a whopping 11% grade.) That is, unless the planners are just going to stub-end the subway at Lake and make the passengers ride an escalator down.

This part of the plan has the same problem that the South Side section has: It doesn't get anyone to the lakefront.

It has another problem: We don't like riding trains in tubes.

So far all of the rest of the line is on elevated ROW.

How about re-using the original ROW of the north leg of the old Metropolitan "L", but continue north in the Paulina ROW where it could cross the Kennedy Expressway into relatively undeveloped industrial land, and cross the North Branch of the Chicago River right about where there is a current railroad bridge. Perhaps a new double decker would be good there. Then, we suggest, an elevated structure could swing east into the alleys between Fullerton and Montana. Making a super-station connection with the current Brown Line (North Side "L") and serving DePaul University to the east would be another plus.

We would like to see it continue on elevated structure all the way to the lake. Wouldn't it be neat to burst out of the wall of high-rises on Lake View and ride with an overhead view of the north end of Lincoln Park before you get off your train within walking distance of the lake front at Fullerton and Lake Shore Drive?

We think only a routing like this would satisfy the objectives of building Chicago's Circle Line in the first place.

© 2006 - C. A. Turek -

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