Express bus service for Ashland Avenue?

The CTA is pushing for a plan that would increase bus speeds by up to 83 percent. (November 19, 2013)

The CTA today released an assessment of the environmental impact of its proposed $160 million project to create express bus service on Ashland Avenue.

The agency also announced it is holding public meetings next month on the controversial 16-mile bus rapid transit project that would affect Ashland Avenue between Irving Park Road and 95th Street.

The public meetings will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 10 at Benito Juarez Community Academy, 1450 W. Cermak Road, and from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 11 at Pulaski Park Fieldhouse, 1419 W. Blackhawk St.

Riders have a month to comment on the proposal, which calls for one travel lane to be removed in each direction for the bus service, which is expected to increase bus speeds up to 83 percent. Buses would stop every half mile and have traffic-signal priority.

Proponents have called for more reliable bus service along Ashland Avenue, which lost faster bus service in 2010 service cuts. Opponents have fought against the removal of the travel lanes and left turns.

The CTA said the release of this report is just one step of the process. The first phase of the project would affect Ashland Avenue between Cortland Avenue and 31st Street. Funding sources are unclear, though there is a push to start on this project by 2016.

The next design phase is scheduled for 2014.

"The public open house meetings will summarize project impacts, including traffic analyses, that have been performed as part of the formal environmental assessment," CTA spokeswoman Lambrini Lukidis said. "CTA and CDOT will consider the results of the analyses, potential impacts and strategies for mitigation, and all public comments before moving forward with the next phase of the project."

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