City Makes Case for Ashland Express Bus Project

By Darryl Holliday on September 5, 2013 7:29am 

 A rendering of a proposed express bus coming to Ashland Avenue.
A rendering of a proposed express bus coming to Ashland Avenue.
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CTA

WICKER PARK — After vocal opposition from some residents, it was the CTA's turn to make the case for a proposed rapid transit bus route on Ashland Avenue.

Once again, though, the plan was met with criticism, with many of the nearly 25 residents present at Wednesday night's meeting in Wicker Park decidely against the proposal.

"Among this audience, I'd say I'm the second most in favor of it, and I'm against it — so they're all against it," said Robert Mantsh, director of the Wicker Park Committee. "It's basically a glorified Ashland Express bus."

While Mantsh said he "sees the sense" in the the proposal, he worries a the project will eventually lead to increased traffic problems and "ghost buses" on Ashland Avenue.

The project would likely feature a center lane running express buses from 31st Street to Cortland Avenue with stops every half mile. But in order to achieve this, the current four lanes of traffic on Ashland Avenue would be reduced to a single lane in each direction.

Local bus service would continue, and except for a few intersections that connect directly to expressways, all left turns would be prohibited.

On Wednesday night CTA officials again noted the project is still in "a planning phase."

Joe Iaobucci, a senior planning and policy official with the CTA, stressed the project is at least 1 1/2 years away from completion and would go through several more rounds of public discussion before any implementation.

"We don't have something like this currently in Chicago, and I know there'll be lots of questions," he said, addressing the apparent trepidation in the room as hands shot in the air.

Though opposition to the project in Wicker Park has been vocal in recent weeks, a coalition of organizations from across the city and a petition signed by more than 1,000 residents indicates some support for the route.

The CTA fact sheet and brochure presented to Wicker Park residents Wednesday night can be seen here.

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