ON THE MOVE
Maybe it was the high price of gas or perhaps
people were looking for a greener transportation
option. Whatever the reason, during the last few
years, Chicagoans have been flocking to the
city’s public transit. According to the Chicago
Transit Authority (CTA), the number of bus and
rail rides rose to 526.4 million, a pickup of 5. 4
percent over 2007—the highest gain in 34 years.
Not all those commuters were content, however. As with many things in the city, its aging
transportation infrastructure is a work in
Chicago is currently six years into a massive $530 million project to expand and rehab
the century-old Brown Line. One of the CTA’s
busiest rail lines, it serves more than 80,000
customers each weekday between the city’s
north side and downtown. But the project has
come under fire as city residents were forced
to contend with closed stations and long
delays. And even before the project reaches its
scheduled close later this year, design issues,
construction flaws and blemishes are already
popping up due in part to $152 million in cost-cutting measures, according to The Chicago
To assuage some of its transportation
trauma, Chicago is tapping into technology. The
CTA launched a project to use global positioning
system (GPS) technology to provide customers
with the locations and estimated arrival times of
buses operating along activated bus routes. The
system is currently available for nearly 72 percent of the routes.
WORK IN PROGRESS
Chicago’s water tower is one of the only structures that
survived the city’s complete obliteration in the fire. It’s
now a landmark of the high-end shopping district known
as the Magnificent Mile—the surrounding skyscrapers a
potent reminder that Chicago started rebuilding itself
just over a century ago and never stopped.
This is not to say the economic slowdown hasn’t
taken a toll on Chicago’s biggest construction projects.
In late 2008, development shut down on the Chicago
Spire, a proposed 150-story waterfront tower that
68PM NETWORK APRIL 2009 WWW.PMI.ORG
Number of CTA rides in 2008
would have become the tallest building in North
America. The 90-story Waterview Tower was halted,
too, but only after the first 26 floors were completed.
Once a prime driver of Chicago’s economy, real estate
is in trouble. In 1998, the local brokerage and leasing concern LaSalle Partners estimated investors spent $2.2 billion for prime downtown real estate, up from $500 million
in 1996. Ten years later, the real estate landscape is looking more like a stormy sea. Sales of new homes and condominiums in the Chicago metropolitan area in 2008 plummeted by 58 percent from the year before.
Despite a bleak economic outlook for the next several
years, Chicago has two bright spots on its financial horizon: its bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics and U.S.
President Barack Obama’s stimulus package.
Project managers from across the city have contributed their largely pro bono efforts to Chicago 2016, the
organization responsible for assembling the bid submitted
to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in mid-February 2009. The group estimates hosting the games
would generate $22.5 billion in much-needed economic
activity. From a budget of almost $4.7 billion, Chicago