Citizens for Appropriate Transportation (CAT) Issue Brief
ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AN EQUITY ISSUE
CAT Home Page Issue Briefs Index
In the ideal world, you get what
you pay for no more and no less. In
the real world, this does not always happen.
Many highway projects benefit suburban commuters more than city
residents. If low-income and/or minority
populations will be adversely affected by the High-Occupancy (HOV) lanes or
other improvements proposed by the Illinois Department of Transportation
(IDOT), then there are environmental justice issues.
In 1994, President Clinton
signed Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justice to address
disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental impacts on
minority and low-income populations.
The U.S. Department of
Transportation guidelines on Environmental Justice call for:
public in developing transportation projects that fit harmoniously within their
communities without sacrificing safety or mobility
the denial of, reduction in, or significant delay in the receipt of benefits
by minority and low-income populations.
how does environmental justice affect the planning that IDOT is doing for the
Eisenhower Corridor? Extending the CTA
Blue Line beyond Forest Park
communities in West Cook County would provide better access to the largest
concentration of jobs in the region downtown Chicago.
A Blue Line extension would also provide better access to the University of Illinois at Chicago, the Near West Side
Medical Center, and jobs in DuPage County.
One major reason IDOT wants
to widen the Ike is to provide better access to DuPage County
HOV lanes are not the only way to provide such access and IDOT has not
demonstrated HOV superiority. The
Eisenhower Transportation Corridor now has three modes of transportation
expressway, CTA Blue Line, and the CSX freight railroad. IDOT claims that HOV Lanes will make things
better for highway users (there is a legitimate question whether this would in
fact occur), but they will make things worse for the other modes. A multi-modal solution that includes the
Eisenhower, CTA Blue Line, Metra Union Pacific West Line to Geneva, and the Burlington Line to Aurora would be
better. The two Metra Commuter Rail
Lines (neither of which uses the Eisenhower Corridor) are included because DuPage County
residents do not all use the Ike to get downtown. A multi-modal solution serves people
regardless of whether they own a car and provides transportation choices.
For example, the Cook County
Court House in Maywood
does not have good access by public transportation, yet many people must travel
there each day. Extending the CTA Blue
Line is a viable option to driving.
Chicago residents will also be affected
by improvements to the Eisenhower. A
Blue Line Extension would help reverse commuting. We should expect IDOT to analyze
environmental justice impacts and consider multi-modal solutions for the
Eisenhower Transportation Corridor.
Rick Kuner revised May 2015