Martin Oberman named to U.S. rail oversight board

President Donald Trump has nominated former Chicago alderman and Metra chairman Martin Oberman to a Democratic seat on the U.S. Surface Transportation board, the independent regulatory agency that resolves railroad rate and service disputes and reviews proposed railroad mergers.

The likelihood of the nomination was first tipped locally June 27 by the Chicago Transportation Journal.? The nomination was officially posted Thursday on the White House website.

If approved by the Senate, Oberman will fill the remainder of a five-year term expiring Dec. 31, 2023.?The open Democratic seat was voluntarily vacated in 2017 by former Chairman Dan Elliott.

Oberman? emerged from a group of at least eight Democrats who were being considered for the last vacancy on the five-member regulatory board, which is the successor to the Interstate Commerce Commission. The agency also has oversight of certain trucking, intercity passenger bus and pipeline matters.

Oberman’s nomination got a strong push last month from the Rail Customer Coalition, an association of trade groups representing major freight rail users.

Oberman, 73, an attorney who built a reputation as a reformer while an alderman on Chicago’s City Council, was named to Metra’s board by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in September 2013. He was elected chairman in 2014, serving until last October, when Norm Carlson took the post.

Oberman also?also serves on the board of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP).? Previously, he?served as general counsel to the Illinois Racing Board.? Oberman graduated from Yale University and?earned his J.D. with honors from?the University?of?Wisconsin Law School, the…

Planning agency’s ‘vision’ eyes more tolls

Does the Chicago area lack a “vision” for its expressway system?

Will more tollways or so-called “managed lanes” be part of that plan?

Yes, says the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, a low-profile public agency responsible for broad-scale land use and transportation planning decisions across the seven counties of Northeastern Illinois.

That vision, CMAP says, “will chart a bold, long-term course for the region’s expressway system” to guide future projects and spending by the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois Tollway.

For too long, CMAP says, the Chicago area has struggled to maintain and modernize its expressways “in the face of persistent funding gaps” and growing congestion. Delays cost the region $7 billion a year in lost productivity and fuel. New ideas and a fresh approach to mass transit are needed.

In announcing the project Thursday, CMAP Executive Director Joseph Szabo said the planning agency was asked by the heads of IDOT and the Tollway to take a “more comprehensive and holistic” approach to the region’s highway management and planning.

Instead of just looking at improving individual tollways or expressways, for example, the CMAP vision will include recommendations for specific 10-15-mile stretches, or “corridors.”

Beyond that, the vision as outlined has no specifics at this point. Those will come later, officials said. But for now, CMAP has set three goals:

First, to support the region’s economy by promoting long-term growth, improving truck freight movement and making the system “financially sustainable.”

Second, to enhance operations with “game-changing” mass transit improvements and preparing for automatic vehicles and new communication technology.

And third, to better manage…

Something new for Chicago

Hello, Chicago. This?marks the debut?of a new source of information for the millions of?Chicago area residents and businesses who must get around?the?metropolitan area each day, whether by car, bus or train (and?bike, too). Just a few years ago, there were at least five reporters working for Chicago?newspapers and radio stations whose?“beat” was transportation and who provided this information.?Not any more.

While those beats have disappeared, the news has not. Chicagoans still need to know the best ways to get around. They need to know how their?expressways and tollways are being managed and maintained.?They need to know if their buses and trains are operating?properly and on time. They need to know who runs?the transit agencies, and why those officials?make the decisions they do. They?need to how their tax money and fares?are being spent. They need a watchdog.

The Chicago Transportation Journal’s goal?is to address those needs.?We’ll do so by providing in-depth coverage of issues unavailable elsewhere.?For example, if your bus or train is consistently late, we’ll?tell you why and what’s being done to fix?the problem.?We’ll delve into the decision-making behind the policies and actions taken by?transportation agencies.?We’ll also provide a forum?for transportation users, providers and experts. We welcome other voices.

Transportation is?a multibillion-dollar industry, and Chicago?is the transportation hub of the nation.?All the major freight railroads, Amtrak, and many of the key interstate highways pass through the region. We?have two of the nation’s busiest airports, O’Hare and Midway.?This site?also?hopes to keep?an eye?on?the freight rail, trucking and aviation industries, areas not covered by other media.

The Chicago Transportation Journal?is making?a…