The Central Region Council of Mayors and the North Central Council of Mayors are two essential groups of eleven subregional councils representing a total of 270 suburban municipalities. The Councils were created by and authorized by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) Policy Committee in 1965 to accomplish the following:
- Provide input to the region’s transportation policy decisions
- Communicate between the local governments and the regional transportation agencies and
- Establish the priorities for the local STP program and implement the programmed projects
The Central Region Council of Mayors is an organization of fifteen municipalities in west Cook County. The member communities of the Central Region Council of Mayors include: Berwyn, Brookfield, Cicero, Countryside, Forest View, Hodgkins, Indian Head Park, LaGrange, LaGrange Park, Lyons, McCook, Riverside, Summit, Stickney, and Western Springs.
The North Central Region Council of Mayors is an organization of twenty muncipalities in west Cook County. The member communities of the North Central Region Council of Mayors include: Bellwood, Berkeley, Broadview, Elmwood Park, Forest Park, Franklin Park, Harwood Heights, Hillside, Maywood, Melrose Park, Northlake, Norridge, North Riverside, Oak Park, River Forest, River Grove, Rosemont, Schiller Park, Stone Park, and Westchester.
Each of the subregional councils appoints two mayors to serve on the regional Council of Mayors policy board called the Council of Mayors Executive Committee. The Central Council’s mayoral representatives are President Alice Gallagher, Village of Western Springs, and President Jim Discipio, Village of LaGrange Park. The North Central Council’s mayoral represenatives are Mayor Jeffrey Sherwin, City of Northlake and Mayor Joseph Tamburino, Village of Hillside.
The WCMC Transportation Committee will serve as the Council’s acting body. The Transportation Committee is comprised of all communities in both Councils of Mayors. Alice Gallagher, Village President of Western Springs, serves as the Transportation Committee Co-Chair with Mayor Sherwin of Northlake as Co-Chair as well.
Inner Circumferential Rail Study
The proposed Inner Circumferential Rail Line would serve west suburban Cook County and provide an opportunity for non-CBD-oriented commuter rail service. The effort is being led by the West Central Municipal Conference and members who comprise the Inner Circumferential Task Force.
Phase I of the study focused on determining whether potential commuter rail service would be physically and operationally possible. The recommended line would run along the Indiana Harbor Belt Line from O’Hare airport to Midway airport. This route was chosen in part because of the strong community and municipality support near the proposed line. Seven proposed station locations were identified along the rail line: Franklin Park, Melrose Park, Bellwood, Broadview, La Grange Park, La Grange or Brookfield, and Summit.
Phase II of the Feasibility Study, included a Land Use & Community Planning Study and a Design Set of Rail Alternatives Study. The Land Use & Community Planning Study is an 18-month study being funded by both the Central and North Central Councils of Mayors’ Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds. The Design Set of Rail Alternatives Study is funded by a grant from the Regional Technical Assistance Program (RTAP). Parsons Brinckerhoff is the consultant for both studies.
Community planning workshops were held to explore land use and community development ideas in around the proposed Metra commuter rail stations. The interactive workshops were well attended and gave municipal officials and community members the opportunity to design and discuss transit-supportive development ideas that they would like to see in their future station area.
Phase III of the study will be included as part of the Cook DuPage Corridor Study. The Inncer Circumferential Rail is also included in the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s GOTO 2040 uncontrained capitol projects list.
Policies & Procedures Handbook and Application
If you are a member municipality of the Central Region Council of Mayors and would like to apply for STP funds, please download and complete the Policies and Procedures Handbook and STP application as well as the STP Project Milestone Schedule and return via email or mail to Tammy Wierciak, the Planning Coordinator for the Central Council of Mayors.
If you are a member municipality of the North Central Region Council of Mayors and would like to apply for STP funds, please download and complete the North Central Policies and Procedures Handbook and STP application. Applications should be returned via email or mail to Leonard Cannata, Planning Coordinator for the North Central Council of Mayors.
Surface Transportation Program (STP)
Congress has extended the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) which was originally authorized in June of 1998 for a total of $218 billion for highway, highway safety, transit and other surface transportation projects through the year 2003. This transportation bill replaced the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) guaranteed six-years in programs and new funding sources. Of the major federal-aid transportation programs in TEA-21, the Surface Transportation Program (STP) provides the most direct role for local governments.
The Surface Transportation Program dollars provide funding to the state departments of transportation. A portion of this funding designated by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is distributed in northeastern Illinois among the eleven Councils of Mayors and the City of Chicago. Local Surface Transportation projects are selected and programmed by the eleven Councils of Mayors across the six-county metropolitan area.
The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) is the designated metropolitan planning organization for northeastern Illinois and facilitates the distribution of these funds.
Under ISTEA, the eleven suburban councils of mayors received forty percent of the STP dollars in northeastern Illinois as the city of Chicago received sixty percent. With the passage of TEA-21 there is a new agreement of the split of STP funds. The CMAP Policy Committee has officially approved the new funding agreement between the city of Chicago and the suburban councils of Mayors, both parties have agreed to a fifty five/forty five distribution ratio of STP funds received by northeastern Illinois with five percent comming off the top for projects of regional significance in the City of Chicago. The Councils of Mayors receive fifty five percent of the STP dollars for northeastern Illinois as the City of Chicago receives the remaining forty five percent. The portion of STP dollars that each of the eleven councils of mayors receives is based on a percentage of population.
Each Council has developed a set of project guidelines. These guidelines set the parameters by which the councils select which of the locally submitted projects will receive federal funding. Each local council oversees the planning and programming of these STP funds within their own region.
Each year the Central and North Central Councils of Mayors receives an allocation of these funds to be programmed by the Councils for transportation projects. The Central Council of Mayors’ allocation of funds is available to the municipalities of Berwyn, Brookfield, Cicero, Countryside, Forest View, Hodgkins, Indian Head Park, LaGrange, LaGrange Park, Lyons, McCook, Riverside, Stickney, Summit, and Western Springs. All municipalities are encouraged to apply for STP funding. The North Central Council of Mayors’ allocation of funds is available to the municipalities of Bellwood, Berkeley, Broadview, Elmwood Park, Forest Park, Franklin Park, Harwood Heights, Hillside, Maywood, Melrose Park, Norridge, Northlake, North Riverside, Oak Park, River Forest, River Grove, Rosemont, Schiller Park, Stone Park, and Westchester.
The Councils hold a call for projects for their multi year programs. Applications for STP projects are reviewed and ranked according to the Central and North Central Councils of Mayors Methodology. However, projects may be submitted on an on going basis to the Transportation Committee for inclusion in the STP Program. The Central and North Central Councils of Mayors, review the STP Program on a quaterly basis at scheduled committee meetings.
All selected projects are submitted to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) for inclusion in the Transportation Improvement Program. The Central and North Central Councils of Mayors provides funding at 70/30 federal/local match for Engineering II, Construction, and Construction Engineering. However, please note that IDOT reviews all Phase I agreements for members of the Central Region.
If you are interested in the Central or North Central Councils of Mayors Surface Transportation Program Project Selection methodology and application, please contact the appropriate Planning Coordinator.
Train Horn Rule
The member municipalities of the West Central Municipal Conference are concerned first and foremost with the safety of our grade crossings and our residents. On December 18, 2003 the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) introduced the “Interim Final Rule on the Use of Locomotive Horns at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings”. This Interim Rule would greatly change the existing approach towards crossing safety in our region. It would require that trains sound their horns at every railroad crossing unless specific and costly safety measures were put into place.
This concern for safety has led our communities to work with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) and the railroad companies to upgrade existing crossing facilities, install pedestrian gates, and implement successful safety programs. Due to this commitment, collisions and fatalities in Illinois have been drastically reduced by close to 70%.
We are concerned that the Interim Rule does not correctly consider the accident data versus the impact that horn blowing would have had on eliminating a large number of those accidents, nor that the Interim Rule targets the most dangerous crossings to ensure safety improvements. Additionally, the burden of the Interim Rule falls entirely on local governments with respect to implementation, cost and liability.
The Interim Rule’s methodology is based on risk calculations that are derived from the conclusions of a statistical study conducted by Westat. For pre-rule quiet crossings in northeastern Illinois where the train horn is not routinely sounded, there is a 17.3% higher collision risk than at gated crossings in the continental US where the horn is sounded. This risk threshold will require communities with existing quiet crossings to invest millions of dollars in supplemental safety measures to lower the implied increased risk and ensure the quiet status.
In order to ensure the accuracy and validity of the Westat study, TransInfo and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) were contracted to perform an analysis of it.
Their findings conclude that “…based on FRA data, there is no reason to believe that in the Chicago Area banning the sounding of horns increases the chance of collisions at gated public highway-rail grade crossings in northeastern Illinois.” This result supports the “puzzling anomaly”, noted in the Interim Rule, and makes a strong case that routinely sounding train horns is not an effective method to improve safety in northeastern Illinois.
The Interim Rule has the potential to compromise ICC’s highly effective safety program by diverting resources away from the most dangerous crossings, towards installation of supplemental safety measures at relatively safe crossings. We fully support the Proposed Alternative Crossing Safety Program submitted by the local governments throughout northeastern Illinois, since we believe that the state’s proven safety record and program should be used as the model to maintain current quiet crossings and in securing future quiet zones.
We estimate that it will cost between $10 million and $20 million to maintain existing quiet zones and several times that amount to establish new ones. We strongly believe that rather that employing a haphazard approach to establishing quiet zones by applying safety equipment at crossings that in almost every case are extremely safe, the “Proposed Alternative Crossing Safety Program” would better target railroad safety funding towards crossings that present an actual risk to motorists.
The Proposed Alternative is a systematic approach for establishing new quiet zones and maintaining existing ones. Oversight is provided by the state agency with rail safety authority. In Illinois, this will either be IDOT or ICC. The program targets improvements at those crossings that have demonstrated a higher risk of collision, making the best use of limited safety funding. The program is designed to allow the state agency to work with all appropriate parties to ensure the most effective solution is applied at high risk crossings. It allows for the state agency to execute an immediate response when any particular crossing is subject to an unacceptable rate of relevant collisions. The Proposed Alternative includes a public campaign to educate motorists and pedestrians as to the consequences of unsafe behavior at crossings, which is intended to help prevent future losses of life.
The West Central Municipal Conference submitted comments supportive of the “Proposed Alternative Crossing Safety Program” to the docket. In addition, the Conference signed on to a regional letter of support for the alternative sent by the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus.
The West Central Municipal Conference, in conjunction with the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference, is working with our regional partners to improve the transportation system in the Cook DuPage Corridor. The study area comprises 300 square miles of urbanized land in 51 west suburban communities and Chicago’s Austin neighborhood. The boundaries of the Cook DuPage Corridor are: the Kane-DuPage County line on the west and IL 50/Cicero Avenue on the east; Metra’s Milwaukee District West line to the north (approimately IL 10/Irving Park Road) and Metra’s BNSF line to the south (US 34/Odgen Avenue).
The study is a collaborative long-range transportation planning effort to identify the most effective and desired solutions to improve mobility in this heavily-traveled portion of our region. The purpose of the study is to reach consensus on a set of future transportation improvements that address the increasingly prevalent travel patterns of intersuburban and reverse commute work trips, while achieving local and regional goals.
The Cook DuPage Study will begin work on a systems alternative analysis and designing smart corridors pilots in Cook and DuPage Counties. These two components allow for both short and long term improvement planning along the corridor.
For more specific information about the Cook DuPage Corridor, we invite you to review the following documents that have been prepared regarding the work that has already been completed by the study.
Study Area Map
Travel Market Analysis
Travel Markets and Employment Centers
Central Council of Mayors Transportation Plan
The Central Council of Mayors has undertaken this study to provide implementation guidance for the newly established STP-Shared Fund. The objective of this summary is to collaborate with Central Council communities, identify projects, and develop a path towards maximizing the potential of STP-Shared Fund projects within the Central Council of Mayors. The report can be found HERE.