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Chicago Department of Transportation

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT /ˈsdɒt/) is an executive department of the City of Chicago[3] responsible for the safety, environmental sustainability, maintenance, and aesthetics of the surface transportation networks and public ways within the city.[4] This includes the planning, design, construction, and management of streets, sidewalks, bridges, and alleys.

Chicago Department of Transportation
Chicago Department of Transportation Logo.png
Agency overview
FormedDecember 11, 1991 (1991-12-11)
  • Chicago Department of Public Works
JurisdictionGovernment of Chicago
Headquarters30 N. LaSalle Street, Suite 1100; Chicago, IL 60602
Employees1242 (Sep. 2017)[1]
Annual budget$554.4 million USD (2017)[2]
Agency executives
  • Thomas R. Carney, Commissioner (Acting)
  • vacant, First Deputy Commissioner
  • Kevin O'Malley, Managing Deputy Commissioner, Policy
  • vacant, Managing Deputy Commissioner, Operations
  • Daniel Burke, Managing Deputy Commissioner and Chief Engineer

CDOT is headed by the Commissioner of Transportation, an appointee and cabinet member of the Mayor of Chicago. The second in command at CDOT is the First Deputy Commissioner, who serves as a liaison between the Commissioner's office and the various operational sections. Managing Deputy Commissioners may also be placed by the Commissioner for assistance in policy and operational oversight.

CDOT is organized into several Divisions each headed by a Deputy Commissioner, including the Divisions of Administration, Project Development, Engineering, In-House Construction, Electrical Operations, Sign Management, Traffic Safety, and Infrastructure Management.



CDOT was established by order of the Chicago City Council on 11 December 1991[3] when Mayor Richard M. Daley restructured the Chicago Department of Public Works into multiple new Departments. In addition to CDOT, other new departments created under the restructuring included the Department of Streets and Sanitation and the Department of Water Management. John N. LaPlante, who was appointed as Acting Commissioner of Public works in September 1991, continued as the first Acting Commissioner of CDOT.

In 2011, the Chicago Department of Environment was disbanded and absorbed by other city departments including General Services, Public Health, Family and Support Services, and Water Management. The Department of Transportation took over Environment's Clean Vehicles Initiative.[5]

Department of Public WorksEdit

Prior to the 1991 reorganization, the responsibilities of the Department of Transportation (and several other current city departments) belonged to the Chicago Department of Public Works. The Department of Public Works was first recognized as a branch of the city administration in 1861, at which point it consolidated the services of water, sewerage, parks, streets, river and harbor, and public buildings. Initially, the department was headed by an elective board of public works. In 1867, the board became appointive, and in 1876, the board was completely abolished in favor of a single commissioner. Mayor Heath served as the first temporary head of the department until a commissioner was provided in May, 1879. The office of deputy-commissioner was created in 1892. At the time of creation (but no longer the case), the position was at the appointment of the mayor, which created a confusing line of responsibility for the heads of the department.[6]

After the abolishment of the three-man board in 1876, the department was composed of the bureaus of water, sewerage, streets, special assessment, engineering, and maps.[7]

List of CommissionersEdit

Since the Department's inception in 1991, the position of Commissioner of Transportation has been held by 11 individuals, including 3 official "Acting Commissioners".

# Name Appointment Departure Notes
1 John N. LaPlante 2 Sep 1991[8] 14 Apr 1992[9] Acting
2 Joseph F. Boyle 1992 1995
3 Thomas K. Walker 1995 1999
4 Judith C. Rice 1999 2000
5 Miguel A. d'Escoto 2001[10] 16 Jun 2005[11]
6 Cherilyn H. Heramb 2005 2007 Acting
7 Thomas G. Byrne 2007 2009
8 Thomas Powers 2009 2010 Acting
9 Bobby L. Ware 14 May 2010[12] 2011
10 Gabe Klein 18 May 2011[13] 30 Nov 2013[14]
11 Rebekah Scheinfeld 31 Dec 2013[15] 20 May 2019
12 Thomas R. Carney 21 May 2019[16] Current Acting

Programs and documentsEdit

Recent marquee projects have been:

CDOT oversees the following projects and initiatives:

CDOT has published the following documents:

  • Chicago Forward Action Agenda
  • Chicago Pedestrian Plan
  • Streets for Cycling 2020
  • Chicago Complete Streets Design Guidelines
  • Sustainable Urban Infrastructure Guidelines
  • 2014 CDOT Rules and Regulations for Construction in the Public Way

CDOT agenda under Rahm Emanuel and Gabe KleinEdit

When Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office in May 2013, his transportation goals centered around creating large-scale citywide bike- and car- share programs and improving bike lane design and presence in the city, which he seeks to increase at a rate of 25 miles a year. He seeks to add 100 miles of new bike lanes by the end of his first term.[20] Gabe Klein, known for expanding bike lanes in Washington D.C. and starting its bike sharing program, was appointed commissioner of CDOT in May 2011 by Mayor Emanuel.[21] Klein's plans center around creating a more pedestrian-friendly city with buffered bike lanes, a bike-sharing program, and pedestrian head starts on crosswalks. Klein also plans to install video screens to 2,200 lighted city bus shelters. The screens would include bus trackers, car-sharing and bike-sharing inventory, and walking times to nearby destinations.[22]

Chicago ForwardEdit

Chicago forward is a two-year plan published by CDOT. The goals of the plan are to increase pedestrian friendliness and safety and to "eliminate all pedestrian, bicycle and overall traffic fatalities within 10 years".[23] Plans outlined in Chicago Forward include increasing countdown pedestrian signals, reconstructing the Torrence Avenue vertical lift bridge over the Calumet River and redesigning the accident-prone Damen-Elston-Fullerton intersection.


1992 Chicago FloodEdit

On April 13, 1992, a damaged utility tunnel wall beneath the Chicago River opened into a breach which flooded basements and underground facilities throughout the Chicago Loop with an estimated 250 million US gallons (950,000 m3) of water.

Investigation into the incident revealed that the tunnel damage was a result of new pilings installed near the Kinzie Street Bridge, which created a slow leak that had been discovered in January of that year. Siting a lack of immediate response to the issue, Mayor Richard M. Daley requested Acting Commissioner John N. LaPlante for a letter of resignation after the tunnel was patched and the flood contained.

Upon LaPlante's resignation, Gery J. Chico, Mayor Daley's Deputy Chief of Staff, took control of the Department of Transportation eventually handing the reins to a newly appointed Commissioner, Joseph Boyle.[24][25][26][27]

50/50 SidewalksEdit

In October 2005, the Chicago Sun-Times reported on CDOT's 50/50 Sidewalk Program. The program was billed as a way for home-owners to evenly split the cost with the city to replace public sidewalks in front of their homes. The report found that most homeowners paid more than 50% of the final construction cost. CDOT subsequently renamed the 40-year-old program to Shared-Cost Sidewalk Program.[28]

Redflex ScandalEdit

In late 2010, executives from Redflex Holdings, the contractor responsible for providing red-light enforcement cameras to CDOT, were implicated in a bribery scandal. The Chicago Tribune reported that a Redflex 'consultant' had been making improper payments to a City of Chicago transportation official, John Bills, who was responsible for overseeing the awarding of contracts for the installation and operation of the widely hated red light camera system. The consultant, Marty O'Malley, who was a long time friend of Bills hired to oversee the Chicago contract, had received US$570,000 in commissions for the contract which had provided approximately US$100 million in revenue for Redflex. A hired investigator found that Redflex had provided Bills with lavish vacations expensed directly on the expense report of Redflex Executive Vice-President Aaron Rosenberg, who had also 'gifted' Bills with trips to the Super Bowl and White Sox spring training over many years, valued at up to US$2 million. In February 2013, Chicago's Department of Procurement Services notified Redflex they would not be considered for an upcoming red light camera RFP.

Public Bike ShareEdit

In April 2012, the Chicago Sun-Times reported on vendor selection improprieties for the new public bike share program, known as Divvy. That program contract was awarded to Alta Bicycle Share, however, Josh Squire, the owner of the competing vendor, Bike Chicago, claimed that then current Commissioner Gabe Klein failed to disclose former ties to the winning bidder, specifically that he had worked for Alta in 2011.[29]


  1. ^ "Number of Employees by Department - Based on Current Employee Names, Salaries, and Position Titles". Chicago Data Portal. 13 September 2017. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  2. ^ "2018 Budget Overview" (PDF). City of Chicago. p. 87. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Establishment – Composition". Municipal Code of Chicago. American Legal Publishing. 2-102-010. 28 June 2017. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  4. ^ "City of Chicago :: Transportation - Mission". Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  5. ^ Nemes, Judith (13 October 2013). "Chicago shutting Environment Department, adding eco-friendly measures to new budget". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  6. ^ Sparling, Samuel E. (May 1898). Municipal History and Present Organization of the City of Chicago. Madison, Wis.: The University of Wisconsin. pp. 187–194. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  7. ^ Pierce, Bessie Louise (1957). A History of Chicago, Volume III: The Rise of a Modern City, 1871-1893. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 309. ISBN 978-0-226-66842-0. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  8. ^ John Kass (30 August 1991). "Daley`s Housing And Public Works Chiefs Resign". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  9. ^ Matt O`Connor; John Kass (15 April 1992). "Ousted Department Chief Gets Flood Heat". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  10. ^ Washburn, Gary (22 December 2000). "Daley Adds New Lineup To His Team". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  11. ^ Gary Washburn (17 June 2005). "Daley axes another aide". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  12. ^ "Mayor Daley Names New Commissioners For Departments Of Transportation And Water Management". 14 May 2010. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  13. ^ "Appointment of Gabe Klein as Commissioner of Transportation". Chicago Councilmatic. Archived from the original on 3 January 2014. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  14. ^ Jon Hilkevitch (1 November 2013). "Chicago's transportation commissioner resigning". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  15. ^ "Mayor Emanuel Announces Rebekah Scheinfeld to be New Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation". 31 December 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  16. ^ Friedman, Brandis (21 May 2019). "Lightfoot Keeps Police and Schools Chiefs, Makes Additional Appointments". WTTW News. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  17. ^ "The LoopLink".
  18. ^ "The 606".
  19. ^ "The Chicago Riverwalk".
  20. ^ Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel Seen As Pro-Bike, Pro-Transit - WNYC
  21. ^ BREAKING: Rahm Emanuel Names DC's Gabe Klein as Chicago Transpo Chief - WNYC
  22. ^ "Chicago's New Transportation Head Has Big Plans". Huffington Post. 14 June 2011.
  23. ^ "Chicago unveils wide-ranging transportation plan - Chicago Sun-Times". Chicago Sun-Times.
  24. ^ Daily Kos: Chicago subway closed 18 days in 1992 Chicago River breach
  25. ^ STRUCTUREmag - Structural Engineering Magazine, Tradeshow: The Great Chicago Flood Archived October 10, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ Reardon, Patrick T. "The Loop's Great Chicago Flood -". Chicago Tribune.
  27. ^ Crimmins, Jerry (15 April 1992). "Daley Aide Chico Moves Up After Flood Ouster". Chicago Tribune.
  28. ^ Amy Hart (14 October 2005). "Depends On What Your Definition of 50/50 Is". Chicagoist. Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  29. ^ Fran Spielman (19 April 2012). "Rival: City's bike-sharing program 'tainted'". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 1 January 2014.

External linksEdit