A key initiative of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago 2011 Transition Plan was “creating a world-class bike network and increasing cycling” by installing 100 miles of protected bike lanes by 2015. The Chicago Streets for Cycling Plan 2020 identifies a 645-mile network of on-street bikeways that will encourage all Chicagoans to ride their bikes. Benesch assisted CDOT in meeting these initiatives by providing preliminary and final engineering services for approximately 30 miles of buffered and protected bike lane improvements. The project follows a ‘complete streets’ design philosophy examining potential mobility and safety improvements to pedestrians, bus and vehicles as part of the bike projects. The aggressive schedule has already resulted in a construction contract for an initial 15 miles of projects.
The aggressive schedule necessitated that Benesch adopt a unique and innovative project approach to quickly assess the survey and traffic data requirements for each individual project segment and then develop a schedule that allowed all 18 individual design projects to proceed in parallel. The draft NEPA Categorical Exclusion document and preliminary engineering plans for the first 15 miles was completed and submitted to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) in 10 weeks. The second set of projects involved protected barrier median, buffered and protected with bike traffic signal projects.
Several of the corridors included potential changes to lane configuration, parking controls (road diets) and auxiliary turn lanes. Preliminary engineering tasks included intersection and corridor traffic studies consisting of intersection turning movement counts, lane utilization and queuing studies. Benesch created Synchro/SimTraffic models to analyze the data and develop recommendations to accommodate bike facilities and improve operations for all modes. Consideration of changes to parking and bus stop locations was a key component of the project. A crash analysis of fatal and injury crashes for all modes was conducted resulting in design elements to specifically improve safety.