Every year, the RTA’s Local Planning department assists local governments throughout northeastern Illinois on projects that build on the strength of the region’s transit system through two programs: Community Planning and Access to Transit. These programs provide funding and technical assistance for local governments to plan for pedestrian friendly, multi-modal, equitable, and accessible communities.
The RTA recently published its 2021 Local Planning Implementation Story Map, an interactive report of 21 RTA-supported projects around the region that are starting soon, in progress, or recently completed.
Six Access to Transit projects that were completed in 2021 are detailed in the report, including
- Phase I engineering in the City of Harvard for pedestrian access improvements along US Route 14, IL 173, Marengo Road, and Ayer Street
- Construction of over one-half mile of sidewalk in the Village of Lake Villa along Cedar Avenue, Central Avenue, and Lake Avenue to offer better connections to the Lake Villa Metra station
- Construction of new sidewalk in Northlake that fills gaps along Wolf Road near its intersection with North Avenue, plus the construction of bus shelters for stops along Pace Route 309
- Phase I engineering in the Village of Berkeley for the construction of new sidewalk along Lee Boulevard, Morris Avenue, Rohde Avenue, Spencer Avenue, and Jerele Avenue
- Pedestrian improvements in Melrose Park on Broadway Avenue near the Melrose Park Metra station, including the installation of in-road warning lights, crosswalks, and additional signage
- Construction in the Village of Park Forest on a 5-foot-wide sidewalk along eastbound Lincoln Highway/US Route 30 from Orchard Drive to the village’s eastern boundary and Brookwood Drive.
The report also includes details on seven Community Planning projects accepted in 2022 following a competitive application process. These projects range from developer discussion panels to transit-oriented development (TOD) plans to corridor plans and studies.
After a project is completed through the Community Planning program, the RTA monitors local efforts to implement recommendations from these projects. The implementation report features a map displaying some of the steps taken by local governments throughout the region to advance recommendations from Community Planning projects, highlighting eight of these implementation actions. For example, in Crystal Lake, a developer broke ground on the 95-unit Crystal Lake & Main multi-family development featuring 48 apartment units and 51 townhomes less than one-quarter mile from the Crystal Lake Metra station. The Village of Elmwood Park purchased a vacant 17,500-square-foot lot adjacent to the Elmwood Park Metra station and is seeking redevelopment proposals, potentially for senior housing. In Chicago’s South Loop, construction began on the Southbridge development, an 877-unit mixed-use, mixed-income multi-family development.
Overall, the projects included in the implementation report show progress toward the goals of Invest in Transit, the RTA’s regional transit strategic plan adopted in 2018. Moving forward, the RTA will continue to assist communities around the region in tackling immediate and emerging planning issues, soon under a new five-year strategic plan to be adopted in 2023.