8:00–9:00am • REGISTRATION
9:00–10:00am • BREAKFAST KEYNOTE
Director of Transportation, Metropolitan Planning Council
Director of Transportation, Metropolitan Planning Council
10:15–11:15am • SESSION 1
Truck Traffic in the Amazon Age: New CMAP Projects Tackle the Evolving Discipline of Truck Route and Multimodal Planning
Jacque Henrikson, Senior Transportation Planner, Civiltech Engineering
Many communities around the region are balancing a sharp increase in truck traffic over the past decade with community livability, equity, and safety concerns. As industrial development, particularly e-commerce locations, continue to enjoy robust growth across urban, suburban and exurban communities in northeastern Illinois, the need to plan for a coordinated future across municipal boundaries is critical.
The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) is pursuing a series of truck routing studies in subregions with high concentrations of transportation, distribution, and logistics facilities. The goal of these studies is to help communities prioritize where truck traffic should go, recommend strategies to minimize conflicts with other modes and sensitive land uses, and provide guidance to establish truck routes in accordance with state law. This presentation will focus on the methodologies used for identifying truck routes, community engagement, lessons learned, and next steps for the recently completed Moving Will County Truck Routing Study (2021) and ongoing Moving South Cook County Truck Routing Study.
11:30am–12:15pm • SESSION 2
Covid-19 Impact Adjustments for Traffic Data Collection
Sagar Sonar, Senior Project Manager, Kimley-Horn
Collecting traffic data was challenging during the pandemic. After schools opened and more employees returning back to offices in 2021, traffic data collection was possible. However, the demand had not stabilized. Therefore, it was important to understand the differences between observed demand versus the pre-covid demand.
For the Hampton Roads Express Lanes (HREL) Network Project, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) evaluated the use of High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes in various segments of the 25+ mile corridor of I-64 in Norfolk, Virginia.
Case Study 1: A detailed traffic operations analysis was conducted to study the impact of the HOT Lanes along I-64 and corresponding arterials. However, before the data collection was to be initiated, the pandemic impacted the traffic patterns in the region. Collecting any field data under those circumstances would not be representative of the typical conditions. An alternative methodology was developed to make use of data that was collected in previous years and to make use of historic probe data available through Big Data sources such as INRIX, Streetlight, Google Traffic, etc.
Case Study 2:
Under the previous HREL Study, the team conducted a traffic analysis for 2025, opening year. The study identified the Hot Spot locations and develop mitigation alternatives to address the bottlenecks. For this study, data collection was conducted in October of 2021. A review of data was conducted to see if the demand was similar to pre-COVID levels. A different approach was developed to adjust data collected in 2021
Using Artificial Intelligence and Computer Vision for Field Data Validation
Sagar Sonar, Senior Project Manager, Kimley-Horn
With the rapid advancement in technology, the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and deep neural network learning has become much more simplified. This research provides some examples and case studies of applying AI in computer vision and using open-source software tools to develop low-cost alternative methodologies to collect, process, analyze, and evaluate traffic data. A model detection prototype was then built using open-source machine learning library TensorFlow and YOLO framework, to develop three use cases:
1. Traffic Counts from CCTV: Using publicly available Closed Circuit TV camera feeds, the research team developed an algorithm to conduct traffic counts. The count data collected using this tool was then validated from field counts conducted using other traditional methodologies. The algorithm was refined to collect classification counts to identify heavy vehicles.
2. O-D data from video footage: Using aerial video footage collected from a high-resolution drone footage, the research team was able to extract high fidelity Origin-Destination (O-D) data. This type of application can be very useful in urban congested corridors and small study areas where probe data and other traditional data collection methods don’t provide accurate and reliable sample size.
3. Collisions risk analysis from CCTV: Using video analytics the research team was able to develop a collision risk analysis from a CCTV feed at an intersection. The algorithm measures the speeds, conflict angles, etc. and calculates the probability of collision. This system can detect near misses such as left-turn failure to yield, pedestrian or bicyclist crashes, and rear end.
Building a Coalition for Transit Future Through Meaningful Engagement
Peter Kersten, Principal Planner, RTA
The Chicago region’s transit system is at a pivotal moment. The system has faced some disruption in the recent past – driven by changes in how people get around, changes in where people work, and shifts in demographics. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic many of these trends have accelerated. The next Regional Transit Strategic Plan will guide how Chicago’s regional transit system will adapt to the impacts of the pandemic to provide safe, reliable, accessible public transportation that connects people to opportunity, advances equity, and combats climate change.
As a key element of the plan development process, the RTA convened three stakeholder working groups to involve a diverse group of individuals and organizations in developing goals for the regional transit system, identifying strategies and actions, and crafting performance measures to track progress. The work of these stakeholder groups was grounded in the plan principles of: Stewardship, Equity, and Commitment to Change, and included over 100 individuals representing 70 organizations from throughout the six-county region. Sustained, meaningful engagement of stakeholders, transit riders, and the general public is critical to achieving the outcomes of this planning effort.
In this presentation, RTA staff will share challenges faced and overcome through this engagement process, including:
• accessible content development;
• information sharing;
• facilitation and fostering mutual learning;
• collaborative ideation;
• accommodation and compensating of participants;
• and next steps for continued engagement with stakeholders
Participants will gain best practices to inform their own engagement work.
RTA's Capital Project Dashboard
Chris Szmurlo, Principal Planner, RTA
This past summer, the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) launched its new Capital Projects Dashboard. The dashboard is one of the many applications the agency has recently created in its continued commitment to transparency. It specifically includes an interactive web map of projects in the 2022-2026 Regional Capital Program as well as those being monitored by the Project Management Oversight team. The dashboard provides users with the unique opportunity to view and explore the spatial distribution of capital projects throughout the region.
The following presentation will include a demo of the dashboard, a brief overview of its connection to the RTA’s Capital Program as well as a discussion on how staff used the latest GIS tools to create this interactive application.
Strategies of Integration with Innovative Mobility Options to Complement Public Transit Networks
Pietro Buffoni, PhD Candidate, University of Illinois Chicago
In recent years, a growing number of mobility actors have entered the field of urban transportation leveraging new mobility technologies (NMTs) to offer shared micromobility, car-sharing, and mobility-on-demand services. Thanks to their capacity to serve a diversified set of mobility needs, these options are becoming pervasive in the users’ mobility experience. The impact of these innovative services is debated in the literature, and they are seen as competitors, or as complementary to public transit. At the same time, operational challenges and declining ridership trends represent significant threats for the resilience of transit agencies, especially after the drastic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, different strategies of integration with NMTs are being implemented by public transit agencies.
This research studies the behavior of transit agencies in large metropolitan areas in the United States with regards to their choices of integration with NMTs. The objective is to better understand the goals of integrating or not integrating such services into traditional transit planning practices and analyze the contextual characteristics that lead to one strategy or another. Through a review of existing practices and a classification of integration strategies of NMTs with traditional public transit, this research provides insights on the benefits and disadvantages of alternative solutions. This would offer a synthesis to reflect on the integration model that would be more appropriate to the specific urban context of the Chicago area.
A Deep Dive into Zero Fare Transit
Alexandra Rosander, Program Associate, Shared-Use Mobility Center
As the Covid-19 pandemic and its associated changes in travel patterns continue to reshape public transportation services and operations, transit agencies across the country are questioning whether the implementation or continued sustainability of zero-fare programming will benefit riders and reverse the downturn in ridership. Should agencies pursue zero-fare, remain zero-fare, transition back to their previous fare structure, or pursue alternative fare policies? Service changes, as well as policy and funding flexibility at the height of the pandemic, not only allowed for experiments in fare collection, it presented an opportunity for agencies to reevaluate the underpinnings of fare policies and the cost of collection processes. Whether tied to equity goals or spurred by safety concerns, zero-fare transit has solidified itself as a topic of conversation among many public transportation agencies.
Through literature review and convening discussions with transit agencies that have piloted or adopted zero-fare policies, the Shared-Use Mobility Center’s Zero-Fare Transit Case Study highlights several agencies' experiments with zero-fare transit, delving into their motivations, goals, and outcomes. It also identifies a set of key considerations for agencies exploring such changes for themselves. Attendees will be given the tools to assess the feasibility of zero-fare transit in their context and its potential to address mobility inequities, low ridership, system efficiency, transit perception, costs and staffing burdens, and safety. While zero-fare is not the sole solution to fixing fundamental challenges to public transportation, the adoption of zero-fare policies can shift dialogue and further support more equitable and accessible transportation systems
Bouquet of Roses for People and Transit
Scott Richman, Senior Transportation Planner, Jacobs
Since 2016, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), TriMet (regional transit agency) and Metro (regional government/MPO) have collaborated to identify, design and build urban street improvements that help buses move more quickly and efficiently through Portland, Oregon. The Enhanced Transit Corridors (ETC) Program has focused on increasing transit speed and reliability to achieve the region’s transportation, climate and equity goals.
Working in true partnership, the leaders from all three agencies came together to identify corridors needing most improvement, weight trade-offs, workshop concepts with stakeholders, and leverage funding opportunities. Their goal was to implement bus priority lanes, using experimental red pavement markings, within two years! Today, Scott Richman with Jacobs (part of ETC consultant team) will share their success story and showcase the most recent designs and priority transit lanes.
For this session, Scott will present the collaborative, data driven approach used to identify long-term ET corridors and to garner political support for future transportation funding.
12:30–1:30pm • LUNCH KEYNOTE
Benjamin de la Peña
CEO, Shared-Use Mobility Center
CEO, Shared-Use Mobility Center
2:00–3:00pm • SESSION 3
Domestic Applications of International Best Practices in Passenger Rail Planning
Dan Miodonski, Manager - Service Design, Metra
Clayton Johanson, Principal Consultant, DB
Michael Cornfield, Consulting Manager, DB
Moderator: Victoria Harris, Senior Consultant, DB
Metra and DB E.C.O. North America will discuss innovative approaches to unique challenges of American passenger rail. The panel will present strategic approaches to service planning, integrated network design, and freight/passenger capacity planning. While Metra is well-known to Transport Chicago attendees, DB E.C.O. North America is the American consulting unit of Deutsche Bahn, the largest transport network operator in Europe and the national railway of Germany.
Learning from Late Adopters: Using an Adoption of Innovations Perspective to Study Crowdsourced Food Delivery Participation
Gretchen Bella, PhD Candidate, Northwestern University
Research topic: The objective of this study is to better understand user characteristics of crowdsourced food assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Awareness of novel technologies and services often spreads by word-of-mouth through social networks. However, the pandemic lockdown conditions increased social disconnection for many, potentially reducing access to information and delaying innovation adoption, especially among households more vulnerable to social isolation. Applying an innovation-adoption framework, we identify household-level factors correlated with different stages of adoption of emergency crowdsourced food delivery during the first two years of the pandemic.
Research methods: This study analyzes anonymized data on the adoption of crowdsourced food delivery in Houston, TX provided by a non-profit organization (n = 28,512) spanning March 23, 2020 through January 19, 2022. The data consist of household-level variables, including income, household size, number of adults and children, and participation in social programs. A multinomial logit model is estimated to identify significant determinants of the five characteristic levels of innovation adoption.
Lessons learned: Results reveal two primary indicators of earlier adoption (i.e., higher income and participation in social programs) and six primary indicators of later adoption (i.e., lower income, non-participation in social programs, smaller households, fewer adults per household, more children per household, and residing in a shelter). These factors suggest potential facilitation of or barriers to the adoption of emergency crowdsourced food delivery during a lockdown. One such barrier may be unawareness due to social isolation. Based on these findings, additional research in this area is highly encouraged.
Left Turn Traffic Calming Treatments in Chicago
Monica Shei, Transportation Engineer, Jacobs
Left-turning vehicles often risk pedestrian safety due to shallow turns at higher speeds, obstructed views, or failure to yield to the right-of-way. In an effort to reduce turning speeds and enforce safe turning behavior, CDOT is installing left turn traffic calming treatments (LTTC) at various intersections, similar to programs in other US cities such as NYC and Washington DC. Using hardened centerlines, rubber speed bumps, and flexible delineators, these LTTC treatments can be installed relatively quickly in advance of other concrete improvements, such as curb extensions. This presentation will discuss the 2019 pilot installation along State Street in downtown Chicago and recent designs and installations at various locations. This presentation will also explore the metrics used to evaluate and prioritize intersections, and the before/after impact at the intersections where these treatments are installed.
Implementing Neighborhood Traffic Calming Features Through Aldermanic Menu
Carl Schwarzer, Assistant Chief Traffic Engineer, CDOT
The Chicago Department of Transportation is committed to providing traffic study review services that allow Aldermanic offices to request and implement traffic calming measures within their Wards. This presentation features a brief overview of the “Aldermanic Menu” system that provides neighborhood level control of infrastructure spending, followed by a more through review of the CDOT neighborhood traffic study process, including how the traffic calming recommendations are implemented.
Aldermanic offices typically generate traffic study requests based on constituent communication, which frequently includes issues related to pedestrian safety, speeding, traffic control, crashes, and network connectivity. CDOT fields these requests, studies the locations, and develops traffic calming plans for the Ward’s consideration. This presentation includes a discussion of the common items in the CDOT traffic calming toolbox, and highlights of several unique “pilot” projects that go beyond the standard strategies.
Finally, this presentation will feature a discussion of lessons learned on ineffective installations. Some implementations fail to address the original issue at the requested locations. Other implementations are poorly received by community members, regardless of the effectiveness. In both situations, CDOT works to revisit the study and address the ongoing community concerns for traffic calming.
Statewide Safety Trends of Grade Crossing Equity
Rebecca Wingate, Associate Planner, Cambridge Systematics
This study seeks to establish a methodology for examining patterns of grade crossing safety among underserved population areas. It examines patterns of grade crossing safety between urban and rural areas in Illinois.
In the past three decades, overall crashes at grade crossings have declined dramatically, however, the crashes related to trespassing and the willful violation of grade crossing gates has remained steady. Installing gates at grade crossings has not resulted in a decrease in crashes resulting from risky driver behavior. However, equity issues are not addressed, as every crash that occurs on the system is treated the same, as though the environment around the crossings is the same. These safety issues surrounding overall safety at crossings is relevant to current events and policy development.
The ACS was used to identify areas that may be deserving of context-sensitive and responsive solutions. Though the number of crashes between low-income and higher-income communities are about the same, low-income communities see a higher crash rate per daily trains, AADT, and gate-down time. These results indicate a higher risk of crashes at crossings in low-income communities that correlates with an increased density of rail lines and crossings, slower train speeds, close proximity to rail yards, and more delay.
The presentation will offer a framework for identifying areas that may be deserving of context-sensitive and responsive solutions. The intent will be to encourage further discussion and research, including equitable education, enforcement, and engineering strategies to address grade crossing safety in urban and rural areas.
3:15–4:15pm • CLOSING SESSION
What's Next for the Cook County Transit Plan?
Benet Haller, Transit Manager, Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways
After two years of engagement, research, and analysis, Cook County’s first-ever Transit Plan has been drafted. The plan identifies projects, programs, and policies that Cook County can use to help fund to improve mobility. Participate in this interactive workshop to help refine recommendations and hear about lessons learned from County staff and the consultant team.