The county with the worst roads for traveling in the Chicago region

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning has a new data tool online and it provides insights into the commuting experiences of Chicago area residents:

CMAP planners say it’s time to “get people excited about data.” The hope is CMAP’s constituents — Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will counties — will use the facts to understand why certain projects deserve prioritization and funding. To access the data, go to…

To that end, a section on ride quality includes detailed maps measuring pavement conditions on both expressways and major roads. A snapshot of counties’ ride quality on major roads puts Cook County with a 47 percent rating compared to 72 percent in DuPage, 80 percent in Kane and 83 percent in Lake and 90 percent in McHenry.

Other data available includes stats on bridges in need of repair, pavement quality, the number of passengers boarding at Metra and CTA stops and the worst railway crossings for delays in the region — FYI, it’s on Chicago’s South Side at Morgan Street and Pershing Road with 3,194 vehicles delayed a day.

Taken cumulatively, the website sends a message that the region’s infrastructure needs more capital to avoid gridlock, stagnant transit and deteriorating roads. The warning is timely, with a new governor in Springfield and a push for state and federal multiyear capital programs.

Two things strike me as interesting:

1. I always like the idea of putting more data into people’s hands. Commuting is a common experience and one that people would probably want to see improved. However, without data that moves behind individual and/or anecdotal evidence, it is hard to have conversations about the bigger picture in the region.

2. Some people may like data but it is another thing to translate that data access into collective action. Assuming that some people go to this site, will they then take an interest in infrastructure projects? Will they contact political officials? Will they vote differently? How exactly CMAP goes about putting this data into action is worth paying attention to.

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