SB Friedman headed a consulting team that included Lakota, Metro Transportation Group and the Urban Transportation Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago to prepare a land use and planning study for the 33 station areas located in diverse suburban communities along segments of the proposed Suburban Transit Access Route (STAR) Line.
Metra’s proposed STAR Line is the second new commuter rail line in the region’s nearly 150-year history of commuter rail service. The STAR Line will connect nearly 100 communities. It will be the first step in providing an alternative to the automobile for the 1.2 million employees heading to work in area businesses, as well as a transit option for 1.6 million residents. Metra has proposed a two-segment route for Phase I of the STAR Line: the West Segment from Joliet (Division Street) to Hoffman Estates (at Prairie Stone), and the Northwest segment from Prairie Stone to O’Hare International Airport. Potential exists to extend the service south and north during later phases. SB Friedman headed the consultant team preparing the land use study for the stations located along the West, South, and North Segments of the proposed STAR Line.
The City of Joliet was the contracting agency for the land use study. A STAR Line Task Force, which includes elected officials, regional councils of government, Metra, RTA, CATS, and NIPC, worked in coordination with the City of Joliet. The main goal of the land use study is to provide a regional framework for transit-oriented development along the STAR Line that supports optimal ridership and community preferences.
The study was completed and includes analyses of socioeconomic data, land use patterns, and market potential at each proposed station area to develop varying scenarios of transit-oriented and transit-supportive development. Workshops with various STAR Line communities were held to select the optimal land use scenario.
Results: SB Friedman submitted the final plans in March of 2006. These station-area plans are a supporting element of ongoing efforts to secure federal New Starts funding to begin implementing the new STAR Line system. The plans provide evidence of community support, compatible land use planning, and transit-oriented development potential—criteria that are included in the federal review process.