CTA riders give mixed reviews on screenings for explosives

By Beth Lawrence

https://vimeo.com/114282101/settings

The Chicago Police Department has recently begun randomly screening CTA passengers’ bags for explosive material.  There is no specific terrorist threat against Chicago’s public transit system, but officials say the new program is a deterrent to crime.

Passengers agree that safety is important, but some question the cost of giving up privacy for safety.

Uber’s issues: Road blocks or simply speed bumps?

By Beth Lawrence

The sharing economy is all the rage today with companies such as Airbnb, Lyft and Uber disrupting traditional industries from hotels to taxis. San Francisco-based Uber is arguably the most prominent peer-to-peer business in the world.

The popular ride-sharing app allows customers to request a cab from a smartphone and track its approach on a map. The five-year-old company is reportedly already valued at a breathtaking $40 billion. It was valued at $17 billion just six months ago. In a recent blog post Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said the company is now operating in more than 250 cities in 50 countries, a huge increase from last year when the company was in just 60 cities in 21 countries. Measured by number of rides, it’s six times bigger today than it was 12 months ago.

But Uber has hit more than a few bumps in the road. It has encountered strong opposition from the taxi industry in cities around the world, including Chicago. But that was to be expected. What was more surprising was the onslaught of public relations nightmares that have plagued the company in recent weeks.

Continue reading “Uber’s issues: Road blocks or simply speed bumps?”

Metra rolls out fare increase

by Beth Lawrence

More than 40 percent of Metra's fleet dates back to a time between the Eisenhower administration and the Reagan administration.
More than 40 percent of Metra’s fleet dates back to a time between the Eisenhower administration and the Reagan administration.

If you ride Chicago’s commuter rail system, you better be willing to shell out a few extra dollars in 2015. Metra is rolling out a new budget including a proposed fare increase averaging almost 11 percent.

While that’s the average, some riders could see prices increase by as much as 22.3 percent depending on ridership zones. Riders who stay close to downtown in Zone A could see a fare increase of 18.2 percent for one-way tickets. The percentage increase narrows for customers traveling farther, for example those traveling from Chicago to Aurora, which is Zone H.

Continue reading “Metra rolls out fare increase”

Dold reclaims 10th Congressional District

Former U.S. Rep. Robert Dold gives his acceptance speech after defeating incumbent Brad Schneider
Former U.S. Rep. Robert Dold gives his acceptance speech after defeating incumbent Brad Schneider

By Beth Lawrence

Republican Robert Dold has reclaimed the 10th Congressional District seat he narrowly lost to Brad Schneider in 2012.

The crowd erupted with cheers of “Sold on Dold” when Schneider’s concession was announced.

The election, which was expected to be close and run late into the night, was called by Chicago media outlets before 10 p.m.  The latest unofficial numbers show that Dold led 51.83 percent to Schneider’s 48.17 percent.

Continue reading “Dold reclaims 10th Congressional District”

Mayor to drive up parking prices to fill potholes

by Beth Lawrence

 

Parking in garages downtown might be even more expensive soon.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has included an increase in parking taxes in his proposed 2015 budget. That would raise taxes in city and airport garages to 22 percent on weekdays and to 20 percent on weekends.  Emanuel says the increase would generate an additional $10 million to double the number of crews filling potholes year round.

We talked to drivers downtown to get their opinions on the tax hike.

Breaking News: Bomb threat to Kluczynski Federal Building

Homeland Security is closing off Clark Street after a bomb threat to the Kluczynski Federal Building.
Homeland Security is closing off Clark Street after a bomb threat to the Kluczynski Federal Building. Photo: Beth Lawrence

By Eric Cortellessa

Several blocks in Chicago’s financial district were closed to traffic Thursday morning due to a bomb threat called into the Kluczynski Federal Building at 230 S. Dearborn.

Officers from the Department of Homeland Security arrived at the intersection of Clark and Adams streets around 10:30 a.m. and prohibited people from walking on the sidewalk adjacent to the building.

The Chicago Police Department was notified at 7:15 a.m. that an unknown male caller called in the threat.

Numerous floors of the Kluczynski building were evacuated and no injuries have been reported, according to Janel Sedevic, spokeswoman for the Chicago Police Department.

Around 11:45 a.m., police reopened sidewalks but the federal building and the neighboring U.S. Post Office remained closed.

The investigation is being handled by the U.S. Marshals Service.

Englewood flyover relieves traffic congestion

U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin and other federal, state and local officials mark the opening of the Englewood flyover.
U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin and other federal, state and local officials mark the opening of the Englewood flyover.

By Beth Lawrence

Chicago commuters in Englewood should be noticing that their morning commutes have been a little less exasperating this month.

That is because the city has opened the Englewood flyover, a new railroad bridge replacing a troublesome crossing between the Metra Rock Island tracks and a set of Norfolk Southern tracks at 63rd and State streets. Both tracks run at ground-level.

Continue reading “Englewood flyover relieves traffic congestion”

Rahm tries to bridge the gap

by Beth Lawrence

Mayor Rahm Emanuel greets Chicago Department of Transportation crewmembers Tuesday at the Van Buren Bridge.  The bridge will open for traffic by Thursday at noon.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel greets Chicago Department of Transportation crewmembers Tuesday at the Van Buren Bridge.

With miles of crumbling streets and thousands of potholes still to be repaired as winter approaches, Mayor Rahm Emanuel took time out of his busy schedule Tuesday to point to one shining achievement: the Van Buren Street Bridge.

At a meet and greet with Chicago Department of Transportation crewmembers who have been working on the project, Emanuel announced that the bridge, which has been under construction since May, will reopen to traffic Thursday.

He emphasized that the $2.5 million project will be completed on budget and ahead of schedule. This bridge renovation was just one of 15 bridge-construction projects totaling $650 million since Emanuel took office in 2011, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation. The projects have ranged from as little as $2 million for the Lake Shore Drive ramp at Michigan Ave., which was completed in November 2012, to as much as $142 million for the reconstruction project at the intersection of 130th St. and Torrence, a project which began in May 2011 and is expected to continue into May 2015.

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Judge delays detention hearing in Islamic State case

Defense attorney Thomas Durkin said Mohammed Hamzah Khan’s parents, who were standing behind him, ask the public to be patient and not judge them based on their attire. “They are Americans,” he said.

By Beth Lawrence

A Chicago federal judge delayed ruling on whether a 19-year-old Bolingbrook man accused of attempting to join Islamic militants in Syria should be jailed pending a trial. But the effect of her decision was that Mohammed Hamzah Khan will remain in jail until at least Oct. 21.

Continue reading “Judge delays detention hearing in Islamic State case”