University of Illinois at Chicago Office of Public Affairs (MC 288)
601 S. Morgan St., Chicago, IL 60607-7113, (312) 996-3456,

October 5, 1999 Contact: Bill Burton (312) 996-2269,

Initiative brings together heads of major transportation agencies

Illinois Transportation Secretary Kirk Brown has signed an agreement creating the Metropolitan Transportation Support Initiative, a transportation think tank to be based at the University of Illinois at Chicago Urban Transportation Center.

The initiative, known as METSI, will conduct research and provide assistance to the State of Illinois and transportation agencies in dealing with some of the Chicago region and the state's most vexing transportation problems - infrastructure management, expressway traffic, transit efficiency, access to remote jobs and rail freight congestion.

METSI is funded for $1 million for two years as part of Gov. George Ryan's Illinois First program.

"This initiative, unique in the U.S. today, will bring together the heads of the state's and the region's transportation and planning agencies to develop concerted approaches to transportation problems," said Joe DiJohn, UIC visiting research professor and director of METSI. "Many issues currently tackled independently are interrelated and can benefit from experts and agencies joining efforts."

The group will meet with Illinois Legislature leaders to gauge the state's specific needs in transportation research. The center will focus on such concerns as transportation safety and "intelligent" transportation systems - for example, changeable message signs along highways, traffic-signal coordination devices and train-bus communication technology that could apply to the CTA.

METSI will provide training and workshops for transportation agencies, and organize campus seminars on transportation issues.

The METSI advisory board includes:

  • Richard Bacigalupo, executive director, Regional Transportation Agency (chair)
  • Carla Berroyer, chief of urban program planning, Illinois Department of Transportation
  • Aristide Biciunas, executive director, Chicago Area Transportation Study
  • Jole Ettinger, regional administrator, U.S. Department of Transportation
  • Frank Kruesi, president, Chicago Transit Authority
  • Mary Rose Loney, commissioner, City of Chicago Department of Aviation
  • Philip Pagano, executive director, Metra Commuter Rail Division
  • T.J. Ross, executive director, Pace Suburban Bus Division
  • Stephen Schindel, director, department of public transit, IDOT
  • John Swanson, interim executive director, Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission
  • William Volk, president, Illinois Public Transit Association
  • Ralph Wehner, executive director of the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority
  • Thomas Walker, commissioner of City of Chicago Department of Transportation

With 25,000 students, the University of Illinois at Chicago is the largest and most diverse university in the Chicago area. UIC is home to the largest medical school in the United States and is one of the 88 leading research universities in the country. Located just west of Chicago's Loop, UIC is a vital part of the educational, technological and cultural fabric of the area.


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