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Emanuel Proposes "Congestion Fee" to Pay for New Transportation Center

By Chris Bentley in News on Oct 14, 2011 6:20PM

Photo by Senor Codo
A plan proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel would charge downtown motorists a $2-a-day parking surcharge, or "congestion fee," to help fund a new CTA Green Line station near McCormick Place and establish express bus lanes downtown.

The station, which would stretch from 23rd Street to Cermak, would have direct transfers to westbound buses. The other part of plan is a proposed rapid transit bus route connecting Navy Pier to a new transportation center near Union Station:

Emanuel’s $30 million version would rely on CTA buses using dedicated lanes, traffic lights that turn green automatically for approaching buses and front and rear boarding by passengers who pay in advance at kiosks or portable fare boxes.

On-board cameras would photograph the license plates of intruding motorists, triggering tickets and hefty fines. The route would also feature enhanced bus shelters.

It's the latest in a series of proposals to clear up downtown congestion that has frustrated administrations for years. Emanuel's version culls $5 million from a congestion fee that is relatively modest compared to plans proposed in San Francisco and one employed in London since 2003 that charge motorists to drive downtown at certain times.

Construction is expected to begin in 2013 and be completed in late 2014, using $5 million from the controversial parking surcharge and funds from the surrounding tax-increment financing (TIF) district.