The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) together with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) launched the COVID Bus Lanes Program to study the impacts and installation options of bus-only lanes. Greatly reduced automobile traffic during the first two months of Illinois’s COVID Mitigation Plan provided a unique opportunity to conduct the study.

Civiltech was asked to provide the studies and design services for the pilot project under our CDOT Pedestrian Safety Contract. Issues to be considered included the level of treatment, such as permanent separated lanes; visually identified lanes; or some combination of both. Civiltech’s team was tasked with examining the priorities and issues, recommending solutions, determining who would provide the installation, and most importantly, how to move the program along rapidly, fully benefiting from the window of opportunity created by the COVID-related traffic reduction.

The Civiltech team analyzed Chicago Avenue from Laramie to Ashland and 79th Street from Cicero to Western. Using existing plans provided by CDOT, the team drove the length of the corridors several times verifying existing conditions. The team marked up plans indicating the dedicated bus lane locations and noting conflicts and situations that might require construction. Existing bus stops were reviewed to verify their impacts from and to the new dedicated lane design. Civiltech’s research included other components such as studying maintenance issues – such as how to restripe lanes in the future and analyzing issues of motorist compliance. Also, Civiltech provided field construction support for the general contractor and determined where appropriate temporary signage could be placed along the corridor.

The fast moving pilot program was originally initiated in late May of 2020. Civiltech was assigned the project in early June and the two projects were completed in December 2020. The two corridors are complete and the program is now in an evaluation phase.