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'You Don't Go To Costco In A Bus': Big Box Retailers Vent About Ashland Avenue Bus Rapid Transit Proposal

By Chuck Sudo in News on Dec 11, 2013 5:50PM

Image credit: Chicago Department of Transportation

Managers of national retailers along Ashland Avenue were a vocal minority at an open house meeting in Pilsen Monday night to solicit input on the proposed Ashland Avenue bus rapid transit plan. Chicago Transit Authority hosted the open house to solicit public input on the project, as required in these matters.

Mike Brockway at The Expired Meter writes that supporters of the plan clearly outnumbered opponents but that didn't stop the retailers along South Ashland Avenue from grousing about why they weren't involved in the process.

Steve Ftacek, general manager of the Costco at 1430 S. Ashland, was particularly concerned about conceding two of Ashland Avenue's four lanes to bus rapid transit, which would increase bus speeds along Ashland by 80 percent during rush hour periods; cut eight minutes off the 2.5-mile average bus trip on Ashland; allow for more than 75 blocks of new streetscaping, including medians, better lighting, wider sidewalks and more greenery; and preserve approximately 90 percent of parking on both sides of the street.

Apparently Ftacek, who said he could "stay here all night" reading the plan, decided to get all NIMBY.

“You don’t go to Costco in a bus. You go to Costco in a car because it’s bulk items,” Ftacek said.

A CTA official promised to meet with retailers to discuss their reservations to the plan, which is in line with area chambers of commerce. As John Greenfield at Streetsblog Chicago notes the Ashland Avenue BRT proposal has a myriad of benefits.

(D)espite the conversion of two of the four travel lanes to dedicated bus lanes and the prohibition of most left turns, it’s unlikely there will be a major increase in traffic on any one particular side street, since Chicago’s robust street grid offers many alternatives to Ashland. The Chicago Department of Transportation can address any problems with excessive car traffic or speeding that may arise on a particular residential block with traffic calming infrastructure.

In short, Steve Ftacek, you aren't losing your parking lot.