The Geography of Street Resurfacing in Chicago

The geography of street resurfacing in Chicago from 2011 to 2018.

The geography of street resurfacing in Chicago from 2011 to 2018. City of Chicago


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As Rahm Emanuel prepares to leave City Hall next year, this map helps cement his transportation legacy in the nation’s third-largest city.

For most big-city mayors preparing to leave office, the last few months on the job can involve looking back at their achievements and impacts on the city. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who isn’t seeking a third term and will leave City Hall next year, on Thursday tweeted out a color-coded map of the street grid showing resurfacing projects since he took office in 2011.

On the map, green streets are ones that were resurfaced from 2011 to 2017; those in red are streets resurfaced in 2018; and yellow streets are planned projects. In all, it’s more than 2,000 miles of streets repaved since 2011.

That includes major stretches of Lake Shore Drive north of the Chicago River; Stoney Island Avenue, Dr. Martin Luther King Drive and 95th Street on the South Side; and Madison Street, Cicero Avenue and Roosevelt Road on the West Side.

Street resurfacing on Chicago's South Side, 2011 to 2018. (via City of Chicago)

But the focus hasn’t just been on roads. The Chicago Transit Authority’s ‘L’ rail network has also seen a major investment during Emanuel’s mayoral tenure, as The New York Times recently featured:

Today, nearly one-third of its tracks have been rebuilt for faster and smoother rides. Rail cars from the 1970s have been replaced with the latest models. More than three dozen stations have been overhauled, many rebuilt into sleek, steel-and-glass outposts. There are new elevators, wider platforms, high-definition security cameras and works by Chicago artists.

That includes the complete rebuilding of the Red Line on the city’s South Side, 10.2 miles of track that were shut down for five months in 2013; and the modernization of the Red and Purple line tracks on the city’s North Side, which is continuing.

Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive’s Route FIfty and is based in Seattle.

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