Senators Kirk and Durbin Support Argonne Proposal to Help Mass Transit Systems Handle Emergency Events

WASHINGTON–(ENEWSPF)–December 19, 2013.  U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) joined together yesterday to write U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx in support of Argonne National Laboratory’s proposal for the Department of Transportation’s new research program examining the capacity of mass transit systems to plan for and respond to emergency events. Argonne’s proposal was developed in partnership with Metra, Pace Suburban Bus Service, the Illinois Department of Transportation, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the Illinois Institute of Technology. 

“The lack of evacuation planning and coordination among transit systems can be catastrophic,” the Senators wrote. “[Argonne’s] project will develop new computational tools that can be used by transit agencies for planning and reacting to sever weather events, service disruptions, and catastrophic failures. The Chicago region, with its integrated multi-modal transportation and mass-transit systems, will serve as a test bed for new, nationally applicable emergency planning and operational tools and demonstration efforts. This initiative will help to improve the current state of emergency response throughout the United States.”

The full text of the Senators’ letter is below:

Dear Secretary Foxx,

As you consider proposals for the Innovative Safety, Resiliency, and All-Safety Hazards Emergency Response and Recovery Research Demonstrations FOA solicitation, we write to bring to your attention the Coordinated Transit Response Planning and Operations Support Tools for Mitigating Impacts of All-Hazard Emergency Events proposal, submitted by Argonne National Laboratory.

The lack of evacuation planning and coordination among transit systems can be catastrophic.  Hurricane Katrina underscored the need to plan for efficient mass evacuation procedures for people without cars and to design systems capable of prioritizing the transit needs of the most vulnerable populations prior to, during, and after disaster events. This project will develop new computational tools that can be used by transit agencies for planning and reacting to severe weather events, service disruptions, and catastrophic failures.

Two regional transit agencies, the Chicago metropolitan area and the Illinois Department of Transportation, have already committed to participate in this effort.  The Urban Transportation Center and the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the College of Engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology also will be involved.  The Chicago region, with its integrated multi-modal transportation and mass-transit systems, will serve as a test bed for new, nationally applicable emergency planning and response tools. The participating regional transit agencies will be improved in the development of the planning and operational tools and demonstration efforts.

This team will operate as an open source so that the new computational tools will be available to other transit operators and researchers.  This initiative will help to improve the current state of emergency response throughout the United States.  For this reason, we ask that you give this proposal every consideration.

Source: kirk.senate.gov