Friday, June 23, 2006

Circle Line First Impressions

I went to the CTA's website to read about the mythical Circle Line, a plan to create transportation corridors that are not "loop-o-centric." Fine idea, considering how the economic geography of the Chicagoland region has changed. Before reading the plan, what I feared was another manifestation of the infamous "Plan 21." For all you non-conspiracy theory readers, Plan 21 was the 1st Daley Adminsitration's plan to transform Chicago into a European city: dense, wealthy core surrounded by upscale residential neighborhoods, with poverty, crime, and "inner city" issues pushed out beyond, to the city outskirts and the suburbs.

Well, after reading the documentation on the Circle Line, it pretty much fits the "outta of the city they want us gone" (Common) or "ethnic cleansing" (Jonathan Peck of SYOC) critique of the 2nd Daley Adminstration's "development" plans. The corridors contemplated are close in West and North Side neighborhoods. The West Side neighborhoods included only extend to Western. In other words, they are the old Italian, Jewish, Greek, etc. neighborhoods close into downtown, not the Little Villages, North Lawndales or Austins. Not to mention that the entire southside, south of Pershing (or Ogden depending on the version of the plan) is excluded. It's only ironic if you have no sense of race and class in this city to note that the Green and Red Lines, both of which serve predominantly black, working to lower class neighborhoods, are the only ones that do not extend to the city's boundaries or into nearby suburbs.

Is it enough that the CTA steadfastly refuses to improve service on South Side bus routes at the same time it refuses to extend the Red Line to city boundaries rather than its arbitrary end at 95th street? It unfortunately seems that the CTA's Circle Line plan is another example of Mayor/Gran Potentate Richard Jr. Daley's shortsighted vision of urban development.

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