CDOT Announces Landmark Strategic Plan for Transportation Focused on Equity, Increasing Access to Opportunities, and Reducing Economic Hardship

July 22, 2021

Nation’s first urban transportation plan in response to the pandemic aligns CDOT priorities with City goals towards accessibility, safety and access to opportunities for all City residents

Mike Claffey    312.744.0707 |

Susan Hofer    312.742.2006 |

CHICAGO - Department of Transportation (CDOT) Commissioner Gia Biagi today announced the release of a new Strategic Plan for Transportation in Chicago—the nation’s first urban transportation plan developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the plan will provide a framework to reimagine Chicago’s streets and transportation assets to address historic economic, racial and social inequities that have long plagued the City, and were exacerbated by the events of the last year. This plan will also serve as a guide to infrastructure investments, including Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot’s Chicago Works infrastructure and jobs capital plan. The announcement was made at the groundbreaking for a street redesign project on 71st Street from Jeffery Boulevard to South Shore Drive that includes full roadway resurfacing, ADA improvements and installation of a buffered bike lane that will connect to the Lake Front Trail.

"In order for our transportation network to truly work for our city, it must serve all of our residents equitably," said Mayor Lightfoot. "This strategic plan, developed in the midst of the pandemic, highlights our commitment to do just that, as it will help lower the economic and environmental burden of transportation on our residents and prioritize investments in underserved communities. Through its alignment with the unprecedented Chicago Works Capital Plan, this effort will also allow us to maximize the benefits our communities and local economies receive from ongoing and future projects, as well as further our mission of revitalizing historically underinvested corridors across our city."

The 79-page plan includes 84 strategies and hundreds of one-to-three-year targets aiming to build safer streets; reprioritize transportation projects to increase access to opportunities for residents in historically neglected neighborhoods; working with local and regional transit agencies to expand public transportation access and create safer streets and crosswalks; and expand bike share, bike lanes and dedicated bus lanes citywide.

“Where you live in Chicago shouldn’t determine how much access you have to all the opportunities that the city has to offer,” said Gia Biagi, CDOT Commissioner. “Streets are a resource for achieving a more equitable, sustainable and just future for our city, and we must act urgently to equip communities for a successful and a just recovery.”

The plan was developed with the Transportation Equity Network (TEN), a coalition of neighborhood and mobility justice organizations brought together to bring more community voices to the table, in collaboration with civic equity leaders and stakeholders inside and outside City government. The plan places communities at the center of the planning process, helping ensure that projects address neighborhood concerns and reflect their vision for their streets. Improving transportation access is a key factor in increasing economic mobility. CDOT and the Center for Neighborhood Technology are developing a methodology to identify communities with the greatest economic and mobility issues in order to focus investments in those areas first.

“CDOT’s Strategic Plan is a great start in setting a new direction,” said Jacky Grimshaw, Vice President for Government Affairs at the Center for Neighborhood Technology and a TEN co-chair. “TEN has played an important role in crafting the Plan and will continue to be an accountability partner as CDOT uses it in making decisions. Implementation of this plan will improve transportation equity across the city and help to repair past and ongoing harms of transportation decisions especially in Black and Brown communities.

“As the pandemic and racial justice protests challenged our nation last year, cities everywhere vowed to do more to build equity into their operations,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, Principal with Bloomberg Associates, which collaborated with CDOT to write the strategic plan. “This plan represents a national model for aligning a city’s streets with its values as they emerge and recover. Building communities into transportation planning builds local knowledge, vision and ideals into every neighborhood in Chicago.”

The pandemic highlighted inequities across Chicago’s neighborhoods. Essential workers had difficulty reaching jobs; Black and Brown communities had difficulty reaching medical testing, care and vaccination; communities with little transit and low car ownership had difficulty reaching shopping and government services. CDOT responded in part by adapting underused streets as car-free spaces to support communities, local businesses and restaurants, while giving residents safe space to gather, run, walk or bike.

The plan’s four principal sections center on equity, expanding community participation in the planning, development and prioritization of transportation projects, and on delivering mobility, economic and environmental justice. Key components of the Strategic Plan include:

Aligning Our Streets with Our Values:

· Establish a citywide truck route network

· Complete the Smart Lighting Upgrade of 270,000 streetlights and reduce street lighting energy consumption by 50 percent

· Develop new metrics to evaluate and execute projects based on equity, safety, and condition

Access to Opportunity:

 · Establish a traffic management center to respond to changing traffic conditions, and modernize traffic signals

· Deepen partnerships with CTA, Metra and Pace to expand transit access; make tactical improvements to high ridership bus routes; identify and implement rapid bus corridors

· Complete the DIVVY expansion to cover the entire city, including more than 200 new Divvy stations in 2021 on the southwest and northwest sides; reach 16,500 Divvy bikes by 2023


Streets Free from Violence

· Invest in strategies, programs, and infrastructure to reduce all forms of violence in our communities while recognizing the need to address trauma from past violence and to help increase walking and cycling in predominantly Black and Brown communities.

· Extend Vision Zero farther into city policies, establish safer speed limits, and improve driver safety education

· Expand the Shared Streets, Outdoor Dining and Make Way for People programs

· Expand the Community Greening program and make it easier for Chicago communities to activate their streets


A CDOT That Works

· Create a senior leadership position at CDOT to focus on community outreach and engagement

· Make information on CDOT projects and activities more available and transparent

· Recruit and hire a more diverse workforce

To read the full Strategic Plan for Transportation, go to:

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