New Report Explores Cargo and Transit-Oriented Development Opportunities in Chicago’s Western Suburbs
In the Chicago region, as in most US metropolitan areas, the dispersal of businesses and residents from settled communities to greenfield developments has created a number of socioeconomic and environmental challenges. The growth of employment centers in exurban areas inaccessible by mass transit creates strains on municipal infrastructure, depletes farmland and natural resources, increases regional congestion and pollution from cars and trucks, and exacerbates a jobs-housing mismatch as workers must drive farther and pay more at the fuel pump. These trends can be countered by creating more jobs, housing, and amenities near well-established passenger and freight transportation infrastructure, particularly in the west Cook County suburbs, as a recent CNT report finds.
The west suburbs of Cook County possess abundant TOD (transit-oriented development) and COD (cargo-oriented development) assets, including passenger and cargo rail lines, extensive bus routes, pockets of dense housing, intermodal freight terminals, a strong base of industrial and logistics businesses, and community colleges that can train unemployed or underemployed industrial workers. These strengths can be leveraged to generate new sources of public and private funding, retain and attract industrial firms and retailers, increase job access near transit, reduce car and truck traffic, and stimulate greater collaboration between neighboring communities to create a more sustainable, prosperous region.
In 2010, CNT expanded its model for sustainable development based on COD and TOD assets to a second major sub-region of metropolitan Chicago by partnering with the West Central Municipal Conference (WCMC), a council of governments representing 40 municipalities and over 600,000 residents.
The new report, “West Cook County COD+TOD,” lays out two interconnected strategies to generate economic development and preserve natural resources in the western suburbs of Cook County. Cargo-oriented development (COD) promotes the creation of manufacturing, distribution and logistics businesses on vacant and underused land near freight infrastructure. Transit-oriented development (TOD) connects people to jobs, housing and other opportunities by focusing growth in walkable areas along transit corridors. Together, these strategies can be harnessed to mitigate suburban sprawl and take cars and trucks off the road. CNT is continuing to work with the West Central Municipal Conference to facilitate collaboration between communities that share COD and TOD opportunities.
Download “West Cook County COD+TOD” here ››