Ashland BRT Supporters Show Up In Big Numbers At Tuesday’s Open House
The meeting was held to solicit public input on the project, a required phases any type of public works project must go through.
The Ashland Bus Rapid Transit project envisions center running express buses between 95th Street and Irving Park Road stopping every half mile. Proponents believe this will greatly speed up travel times up and down Ashland and help spur economic development along the corridor.
However, opponents of BRT on Ashland are wary of the plan to reduce Ashland from two lanes of traffic in each direction to just one lane each way. In addition, most left turns could be eliminated and local bus service would continue to operate in the single remaining lanes.
Pro-transit group Active Transportation Alliance organized a rally at a nearby bar before the CTA’s open house and then marched the four blocks en masse to the event to show their support for the plan.
While approximately 30-50 people attended the event, supporters clearly outnumbered detractors.
But it also seemed like the number of CTA staff, city officials and other hired guns helping sell the project was on par with the number of attendees. Near the end of the two hour open house, staff with name badges easily outnumbered attendees.
Although the CTA’s Joe Iacobucci felt the turnout for the meeting was strong.
“We have a very positive turnout with lots of organizations and individuals reflecting a spectrum of views,” said Iacobucci.
CTA officials laid out a satellite view of Ashland from 95th to Irving Park Rd. with both the current status of the roadway compared to proposed changes on 20 long folding tables. Attendees were invited to write suggestions and thoughts on post it notes along the route. Other posters explaining and extolling BRT as well as informational videos were situated around the large room.
Carolyn Pomykala, who takes public transit and rides a bike to get around the city says she’s in favor of the Ashland BRT and feels some drivers are overreacting to the proposed elimination of a vehicle travel lane in both directions and a prohibition of most left hand turns.
“I feel the driving public is very smart and they will bee able to deviate their route without getting hysterical,” explained Pomykala.
A second informational open house for the Ashland BRT will be held Wednesday night from 6-8 PM at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse, 1419 W. Blackhawk.