Monthly Archives: February 2012

State Transit Plan Funded By Increase In Gas Tax

Local advocates want improvements in mass transit.

But ironically, they want drivers to pay for these improvements through a mild increase in higher state gas taxes.

Riders for Better Transit, a group under the umbrella of the Active Transportation Alliance, held a press conference in support of Senate Bill 3236, which they call the Transit Fast Forward bill which was recently introduced in the Illinois General Assembly.

Chicago Fast Tracks Recovering Old Parking Ticket Debt Through State Tax Refunds

Windy City. City of Big Shoulders. The City that Works.

Chicago has a lot of nicknames but maybe taxpayers should start calling it the “Fastest City on Earth”–at least when it comes to collecting revenue.

Less than two weeks ago, the Chicago City Council passed a debt recovery ordinance which allowed the city to use the Illinois State Comptroller’s office to grab taxpayer’s Illinois income tax refund to pay for outstanding debt from parking tickets, red light camera tickets, water bills and other other overdue debt.

The ordinance became effect on February 15th, the day the Mayor signed it.

Immediately, in fact that same day, the city transmitted the required paperwork to begin the process of intercepting taxpayer refunds on behalf of Chicago according to Illinois State Comptroller spokesperson Michael Dropka.

Bill May End Free Metered Parking For Disabled

Only Few Exceptions Will Still Be Allowed To Park Free

Well, it’s a start.

Illinois State Rep. Karen May (D-Highland Park) has introduced legislation to take away the free parking meter privileges for all but a minority of drivers with handicap license plates or disabled parking placards according to report in the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Illinois Secretary of State will issue a special free parking sticker to disabled drivers only after qualifying in at least one of four very strict and specific ways through doctor’s verification according to the proposed legislation.

Red Light Roundup: Northfield In Debt Due To RLC

Live by the red light camera, die by the red light camera.

The Chicago Tribune is reporting the gory details regarding the tremendous loss of revenue the Village of Northfield is facing because of a red light camera taken out of commission due to a construction project.

The RLC was at the intersection of Waukegan and Willow Roads in Northfield and it took in about $550,000 when it was still shooting pictures of drivers unfortunate enough to roll through a right turn on red there the year before.

But, the gravy stopped–when the State of Illinois told Northfield this past July it had to put the camera out of commission until the construction project ended–which was just recently.

Local Band Promotes With Fake Parking Tickets

Adam Becvare realizes the power of a strong, provocative graphical imagery.

That’s why, every time local post punk band The Lustkillers returns to Chicago from touring to do a show, the band’s lead singer usually prints up show fliers which look strikingly like a bright orange Chicago parking ticket.

The Lustkillers play a show Tuesday night, February 28th at Debonair, 1575 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood.

Chicago Area Gas Prices Shoot Skyward

Chicagoland Drivers See 10 Cent Increase In 24 Hours

It was too good to last.

While gas prices across the U.S. have gone through the roof and setting records the past few weeks, fuel prices around Chicago and the Midwest were actually falling.

But over the past week and in particular the last 24 hours, local gas prices have risen dramatically.

According to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline has risen 10 cents in the past 24 hours alone at gas stations around the Chicagoland area and 12 cents over the past week.

ChicagoGasPrices.com, is reporting similar price bumps of 5 cents a gallon since yesterday in the past 24 hours, and 20 cents a gallon in the last week.

Nationally, pump prices have only risen 10 cents a gallon in the past week.

Increases in statewide gas prices have been equally dramatic, leaping 9 cents in the past 24 hours according to IllinoisGasPrices.com, while AAA is reporting a 7 cent average price increase across Illinois.

Illinois Teen Driver Deaths Jump First Half Of 2011

After 15 years of dramatically declining deaths of teen drivers, preliminary numbers in a just released report for the first half of 2011 seem to indicate a mild reversal of that trend nationally but a startling jump in teen driver fatalities in Illinois.

The Governors Highway Safety Association is reporting traffic deaths for 16 and 17 year-old drivers have risen 11%, jumping from 211 for the first six months of 2011 compared to 190 for the same period in 2010.

“If this trend continued in the second half of 2011, it will mark a reversal of longstanding yearly declines in teen driver deaths, especially among 16-year-olds,” states the GHSA report.

Warm Winter, New Strategies Lets City Gets Potholes Under Control

Back in November, Chicago could be considered the pothole capital of the U.S.

It wasn’t a surprise to local motorists experiencing the bumpy experience of driving on Chicago’s pockmarked roads that there was nearly 7000 open requests to fill potholes back then.

But today, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced pothole repair crews have drastically reduced the number of potholes in the past three months to just 300 open repair requests.

Impressively, according to CDOT, crews are essentially keeping up with daily calls for service having reduced the average time to repair a pothole to just 2.5 days.

CBS 2 News Story On Red Light Cameras

CBS 2 investigative reporter Pam Zekman had a report on red light cameras Monday night.

Honestly, Zekman piece is pretty vacuous, with little new information. It’s essentially interviews with drivers who dislike the red light cameras and some revenue numbers from the city and other town’s top performing RLC intersections.

Perhaps the highlight of the piece was her short interview with Prof. Rajiv Shah who’s research (first reported here) which seems to show that RLC in Chicago doesn’t seem to have any effect on reducing crashes.

Read CBS 2′s full story, “2 Investigators: The Red-Light Cameras That Generate The Most Tickets.”

Gas Prices Hit National Record For February

Chicago Escaping High Fuel Prices…For Now

National gas prices are busting records all over the country.

According to fuel price tracking website, GasBuddy.com, the national average for unleaded gasoline is $3.53 per gallon, 37 cents a gallon higher than last year.

But AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report paints a slightly bleaker picture with unleaded coming in at $3.56 per gallon, or 40 cents a gallon more expensive than last February.

There are lots of reasons being given, including tensions in Iran forcing the middle east nation to cut the flow of oil, dropping international supply, alleged increase demand for oil and gas around the globe as well as creeping inflation.

The fear is, if gas prices are this high so early in the year, what will happen when fuel prices hit their normal peak in late spring or early summer?