Articles filed under Pyke, Marni

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  • Pyke: What local legislators say about transit cuts Mar 2, 2015 5:30 AM
    If you’re a Republican state lawmaker whose voters depend on Metra to get to work, how do you defend a budget that slashes transit? And if you’re a Democrat from the suburbs, can you denounce a budget that gives $120 million more to roads? We examine those paradoxes, plus readers hot about distracted driving and more.

  • Metra’s line to Aurora is busiest, tardiest line Feb 16, 2015 9:14 AM
    Why is Metra's BNSF line so delay-prone and why is I-355 so expensive? We delve into these questions plus give you readers' picks for the Chicago Auto Show.

  • Supercars to the rescue at Chicago Auto Show Feb 9, 2015 5:30 AM
    It's revenge of the supercars at the Chicago Auto Show starting this Saturday. Porsche, Lamborghini and Ferrari will trot out some eye candy for gearheads, but if you lack $200,000, don't worry. There's plenty of affordable models and an outdoor test track this year.

  • Pyke: Snow-covered paths leave cyclists, walkers on thin ice Jan 26, 2015 8:59 AM
    When it snows, drivers expect plowed streets as soon as possible -- and usually get them. Bikers and pedestrians, however, have to slog through snow-covered paths. “In general, walking and biking are treated as second-class forms of transportation,” said Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance, a regional pedestrian/cyclist advocacy group.

  • Pyke: O'Hare noise rising as suburban election issue Jan 12, 2015 3:29 PM
    The jet cacophony from new runways at O'Hare is making noise in some municipal elections, but whether the suburbs can apply leverage against Chicago and the Federal Aviation Administration is an open question.

  • Pyke: More airline charges, gas tax hike top 2015 transit predictions Jan 5, 2015 5:22 AM
    Momentum for a western terminal at O'Hare. A new train line in the Loop. Airlines charging for aisle seats. And expansion of sales or gas taxes in Illinois to pay for transportation. Three experts predict what to expect on the transportation front in 2015.

  • Pyke: Do tax breaks encourage driving over transit? Dec 8, 2014 5:10 AM
    Why is the tax credit for taking Metra, Pace or the CTA to work just half of a tax credit for parking downtown? It's not right, local lawmakers say. “You don’t want different incentives for driving versus taking mass transit,” said congressman Bill Foster, a Naperville Democrat.

  • Pyke: Is it illegal to ride your bike on a sidewalk? Sep 8, 2014 7:45 AM
    Why do bicyclists hog sidewalks? When will the weeds on the Eisenhower Expressway be mowed? And what's being done with the cash CN Railway provided for safety improvements on the EJ&E? Readers ask, and we answer your pressing transportation questions. Plus traffic tips and can't-miss events.

  • Pyke: Are I-355 traffic delays the protesters' fault? Aug 25, 2014 11:36 AM
    Protester-related delays on I-355. Accidents at rail crossings. The mailbag is full and it's time to share what everyone's talking about. "It was a Friday and most of us commuters simply want to get home quickly and safely,” one reader says about the protests on bridges over tollways.

  • Pyke: Highway bridge protests exercise free speech, but irk drivers Aug 18, 2014 5:05 AM
    Fuming in gridlock caused by protestors atop a bridge over the tollway? It's perfectly legal, police say. And it's constitutional, says Fred Schneider whose political protest signs have irked more than a few motorists. "If you give a thumbs up, we give one. If you give us a finger, we wave to you," he said.

  • No action 25 years after crash showed risk to 'lap babies' on planes Jul 14, 2014 9:34 AM
    When United Flight 232 was about to crash land in Sioux City, Iowa, parents of four lap-held babies had to place them wrapped in blankets on the floor. That was the best the FAA could do in 1989, and today the safety requirements for babies are still substandard, safety advocates say. "It's a glaring gap," former NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said.

  • Has Metra missed the universal fare card train? Jun 23, 2014 5:30 AM
    July 1 marks the dawn of the universal fare card in Illinois. On that date, Pace and the CTA officially switch over to Ventra, the new joint fare system. But wait, you say, there are three transit agencies in the region. Where does Metra fit in? Can you wave your Ventra card at the conductor and have it be accepted as a Metra fare? The answer is — no, Metra officials said last week.

  • Outgoing Metra directors describe ups, downs at agency Jun 16, 2014 5:30 AM
    Friday marks the departure of veteran Metra board directors Arlene Mulder and Jack Schaffer from the agency that’s seemed more like a soap opera than a transit organization in the past four years. In interviews last week, the two, who have a combined 17 years on Metra, offered a behind-the-scenes look at the highs, and extreme lows, during a time marked by scandal, political hanky-panky and a very public suicide. They also spoke of Metra’s climb back to stability and the future.

  • Group aims to make suburbs safer for bike riders Jun 9, 2014 12:43 PM
    You can bike for miles on trails all over the suburbs, but can you bike to the library or train station? There's a new campaign to serve the 90 percent of us who aren't expert cyclists but need better ways to get to our destinations. “We want to help the suburbs develop next-generation bike facilities that accommodate the average person,” Active Transportation Alliance Executive Director Ron Burke said.

  • George Ranney dishes on the RTA, Route 53 and 15 years in the fray Jun 2, 2014 5:14 AM
    Libertyville native George Ranney, CEO of the former Metropolis Strategies, opens up about the state of transit funding ('that's nuts'), how to pay for extending Route 53 ('let's get real'), and the RTA ('they haven't been able to bring people together').

  • Noise from new runways takes a toll on suburbs May 27, 2014 1:28 PM
    No dandelion would dare poke its head out on Chester Gorniak’s immaculate lawn. But weeds are the only thing missing from his leafy Bensenville paradise that explodes with hydrangeas, weeping cherry trees, wind chimes, statues, fountains and two exuberant terriers. It’s utterly tranquil ... that is until an MD-80 shatters the silence, causing the animal statues to vibrate. Then, a 747. Then, an MD-80. And so on. Gorniak lived amicably with O’Hare International Airport for nearly 26 years, coping with intermittent jet noise. But a new runway commissioned in October has shifted air traffic flow, opening up a new front in the war between O’Hare and the suburbs that includes allies in Chicago. Adding to the mix are recent FAA rule changes shifting runway use and causing a din in previously quiet communities. The resultant cacophony has led state and federal lawmakers to seek remedies, but they’re bumping up against the second busiest airport in the nation. Meanwhile, Gorniak wants out. “I cannot live here. It’s impossible,” he said. O’Hare’s latest runway, once the site of St. Johannes Cemetery, revolutionized air traffic at O’Hare from a multidirectional approach to a predominantly east or west flow. That’s led to a surge in noise complaints from towns including Bensenville, Itasca, Wood Dale, Addison and northwest areas of Chicago. In Bensenville, for example, noise complaints shot up from one in March 2013 to 332 from 34 households in March 2014, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation. But the new runway’s not the only noise bomb hitting unsuspecting neighborhoods. In the wake of near misses at other airports during “go-arounds,” when an airplane scraps a landing, the FAA instituted rule changes at O’Hare in April. The revisions mean restricted use of Runway 32L, a workhorse runway that departs to the northwest. Two runways that depart to the southwest and west are picking up the slack. The changes also limit use of Runway 4L, which departs to the northeast. As a result, two runways departing to the east are handling more aircraft. Regarding the runway restrictions, the FAA is working with air traffic controllers on procedures to get back to using the two runways more, spokesman Tony Molinaro said. He noted that over the years, “noise contours have shrunk tremendously” with newer aircraft. But for now, sitting around the porch can be earsplitting for pockets of communities around the region. “There’s no rhyme or reason to it,” said James Argionis, a Park Ridge resident and member of the Fair Allocation in Runways Coalition (FAiR). The coalition, which includes suburbs and Chicago chapters, seeks a new plan for runway use that considers residential noise and wants Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino to resign. “I’m glad people in Chicago have gotten involved,” Argionis said. “For years, Bensenville and Park Ridge have been complaining and it’s fallen on deaf ears because it’s not their voters.” FAiR members say they want something beyond soundproofing. “What we really want is a seat at the table,” Argionis said. “In a democracy, it’s the right thing to do.” Chicago Department of Aviation officials said in a statement they “recognize the need to balance all of the economic benefits of O’Hare with quality of life issues of airport neighbors.” “We believe the best and most appropriate forum to address noise concerns is the O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission. All key parties, including the CDA, ONCC members, and from time to time the FAA and airlines, attend and participate in these meetings. The full ONCC meetings provide an opportunity for residents to voice their concerns.” Bensenville leaders, however, are still seeking a one-on-one meeting with the city. And Argionis thinks the ONCC’s mandate doesn’t go far enough to provide meaningful intervention. Meanwhile, state Sens. Dennis Reboletti, an Elmhurst Republican, and Michael McAuliffe, a Chicago Democrat, filed legislation this month asking the state to study the effects of O’Hare-related pollution on surrounding residents. The issue’s also got the attention of local congressmen. U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, a Hoffman Estates Democrat and pilot, said Thursday she met with FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and asked him to expedite an airport noise study. “I’ve also asked the FAA to use more runways at the airport so that there will be less noise congestion from the airplanes waiting on runways,” Duckworth said in an email. “It is crucial that improvements at O’Hare do not hurt the quality of life for my neighbors.” Help can’t come soon enough for Gorniak and his neighbors on Hillside Drive, including Rebecca Weed. The screech of jets is so overwhelming that it sets off the baby monitor in her daughter Hailey’s room. “I can hear it turn on and she’s sound asleep,” Weed said. “It took a while for me to figure it was the planes that were triggering the monitor.” Got an opinion on O’Hare noise? Drop me an email at Or follow me on Twitter at @DHInTransit. One more thing Some suburban officials have suggested that imposing higher altitudes for aircraft in the vicinity could bring relief. But aviation professionals I checked with noted that O’Hare already institutes departure and arrival procedures that account for noise abatement. “The traffic flowing in and out of O’Hare is a complex choreography of activity,” said commercial pilot Dennis Tajer of Arlington Heights, an official with the Allied Pilots Association representing American Airlines pilots. Steeper altitudes also mean more complex maneuvers for aircraft and pilots, experts point out. Gridlock alert It’s your turn, Arlington Heights. The Illinois tollway is reconstructing I-90 ramps at the Route 53 and Arlington Heights Road interchanges. Expect lane closures now through the fall. Upcoming So what’s happening with that Go To 2040 plan that addressed regional planning and transportation? Find out at noon Thursday during a Metropolitan Planning Council forum at 140 S. Dearborn St., Suite 1400, Chicago.

  • Readers sound off on tolls, pets on planes and more May 19, 2014 5:25 AM
    The fur flies as readers vent about pets on planes, a potential conflict of interest for Gov. Pat Quinn and a tollway board director, and tolling freeways. Plus traffic tips and a green cars event in this week's column. Jan Spaletto of Palatine knows how she'd vote on tolling Route 53. "My opinion is that those proposing these changes are just plain nuts."

  • Why more tolls could be coming to area freeways May 5, 2014 9:29 AM
    Should freeways be tolled? That's the debate du jour as Congress tries to tackle highway funding before money runs out this fall. The White House's $302 billion, four-year transportation bill filed last week gives its blessing to states to charge tolls on interstates under certain conditions.

  • Chairman says reclaiming trust key to raising Metra funds Apr 10, 2014 5:00 PM
    Metra riders know the agency’s problems range from political patronage to aging equipment. Chairman Martin Oberman hopes resolving the first issue will give commuters enough faith in the agency to help pay to fix the second.

  • Can lawmakers police themselves in reforming transit? Apr 7, 2014 5:30 AM
    It's one thing to cheer on transit reforms in the abstract. It's quite another when the group recommending the reforms has the audacity to suggest that you are part of the problem. That's the paradox facing lawmakers in the wake of some revolutionary ideas on fixing transit.

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