Northwest Transit Corridor Study - Background
Building upon the successful launch of new transit service on Metra’s North Central Line, the Northwest Municipal Conference became part of a major initiative to introduce new transit service within the Northwest Corridor. In 2000, we launched efforts to assist communities within the Northwest Corrdior determine which of three distinct transit modes would best serve the mobility needs of residents, workers and visitors to the corridor. Other primary goals for involvement in this process were to identify specific ways that municipalities within the Northwest Corridor can ensure the success of the future transit line and securing the implementation of the most promising transit alternative.
The Northwest Corridor stretches from O’Hare Airport west to Elgin along the Northwest Tollway and is home to over 600,000 residents and over one-half million jobs. Employment within the Corridor is projected to grow to nearly 800,000 jobs by 2020. The Corridor contains a significant concentration of global and national corporate headquarters and operations, college campuses, hotels, convention centers (existing and planned), regional shopping centers, and entertainment complexes.
The Northwest Tollway serves as the main east-west highway access but is over capacity nearly 8 hours daily. Metra operates commuter rail service along the northern and southern edges of the Corridor while Pace operates limited bus service within the Corridor. However, there is a lack of high-capacity transit serving the commercial and business center of the Corridor. Expanding the Tollway and supporting road network to accommodate all projected growth is not a viable option. In order to accommodate projected employment growth, local officials believe that a new transit alternative is the solution.
The Northwest Transit Corridor Alternatives Analysis was a cooperative effort between the Northwest Municipal Conference, the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra, Pace, and the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority. Five municipalities - Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Rolling Meadows, Rosemont, and Schaumburg - initiated the process to identify a solution. A feasibility study, completed in June 2000, confirmed the need for transit in the Corridor and identified 8 potential options. The RTA lead the local alternatives analysis process to help the Corridor communities determine whether the CTA, Metra, or Pace proposals for the Corridor would produce the largest regional and local benefit.
The Northwest Municipal Conference established the Northwest Transit Corridor Municipal Task Force in 2001 to represent local government interests in the local alternatives analysis process. The Task Force chaired by President Al Larson from Schaumburg and is led by a Steering Committee consisting of representatives from Arlington Heights, Chicago, Des Plaines, Elk Grove Village, Elgin, Hoffman Estates, Mount Prospect Rolling Meadows, Rosemont, and Schaumburg. These communities are committed to ensuring the successful implementation of this project.
The main task of the local alternatives analysis process was completed in May 2003 with the selection by the Corridor mayors of the Metra STAR Line and the affirmation of this selection by the RTA Board of Directors in June 2003.
The work of the Task Force produced a transit supportive land use study to help each community with potential station locations plan for integrating the new transit service with their existing land uses. See Land use Planning - Northwest Corridor page for more information.
The Task Force also took the first steps towards development of the federally required project financial plan by identifying $5 million in local funding per station location. The $5 million will consist of a mix of funding ranging from federal Surface Transportation Program funding under local control to municipal funds. The local funding demonstrates the strong commitment from the Northwest Corridor municipalities to implementation of the Metra STAR Line.