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Chicago Department of Transportation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chicago Department of Transportation
Chicago Department of Transportation Logo.png
Department overview
FormedDecember 11, 1991 (1991-12-11)
Preceding Department
  • 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]
Department executive
  • Gia Biagi, Commissioner
Key document

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.

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 the new Chicago Department of Transportation.[5] The restructuring took effect on 1 January 1992.[5] John N. LaPlante, who was appointed as Acting Commissioner of Public Works in September 1991, continued as the first Acting Commissioner of CDOT.[6]

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.[7]

Department of Public Works

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.[8]

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.[9]

List of commissioners

Since the Department's inception in 1991, the position of Commissioner of Transportation has been held by 12 individuals, including 4 official "Acting Commissioners".

# Name Appointment Departure Notes
1 John N. LaPlante 2 Sep 1991[10] 14 Apr 1992[11] Acting
2 Joseph F. Boyle 20 May 1992[12] 1995
3 Thomas K. Walker 2 Oct 1995[13] 1999
4 Judith C. Rice 3 Nov 1999[14] 2000
5 Miguel A. d'Escoto 2001[15] 16 Jun 2005[16]
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[17] 2011
10 Gabe Klein 18 May 2011[18] 30 Nov 2013[19]
11 Rebekah Scheinfeld 31 Dec 2013[20] 20 May 2019
12 Thomas R. Carney 21 May 2019[21] 10 Dec 2019 Acting
13 Gia Biagi 10 Dec 2019[22][23] Current


1992 Chicago Flood

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 Sidewalks

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 Scandal

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 Share

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.
  6. ^ Schuba, Tom (2020-03-22). "John LaPlante, Chicago's's first transportation commissioner, dies after battle with coronavirus". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2020-03-31.
  7. ^ Nemes, Judith (13 October 2013). "Chicago shutting Environment Department, adding eco-friendly measures to new budget". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ John Kass (30 August 1991). "Daley's Housing And Public Works Chiefs Resign". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  11. ^ Matt O`Connor; John Kass (15 April 1992). "Ousted Department Chief Gets Flood Heat". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  12. ^ "JOURNAL of the PROCEEDINGS of the CITY COUNCIL of the CITY of CHICAGO, ILLINOIS" (PDF). 20 May 1992: 15947–15948. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 August 2019. Retrieved 19 August 2019. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^ "JOURNAL of the PROCEEDINGS of the CITY COUNCIL of the CITY of CHICAGO, ILLINOIS" (PDF). 2 October 1992: 7569. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 August 2019. Retrieved 19 August 2019. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  14. ^ "JOURNAL of the PROCEEDINGS of the CITY COUNCIL of the CITY of CHICAGO, ILLINOIS" (PDF). 3 November 1999: 13006–13007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 August 2019. Retrieved 20 August 2019. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  15. ^ Washburn, Gary (22 December 2000). "Daley Adds New Lineup To His Team". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  16. ^ Gary Washburn (17 June 2005). "Daley axes another aide". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  17. ^ "Mayor Daley Names New Commissioners For Departments Of Transportation And Water Management". 14 May 2010. Archived from the original on 2 January 2014. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  18. ^ "Appointment of Gabe Klein as Commissioner of Transportation". Chicago Councilmatic. Archived from the original on 3 January 2014. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  19. ^ Jon Hilkevitch (1 November 2013). "Chicago's transportation commissioner resigning". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  20. ^ "Mayor Emanuel Announces Rebekah Scheinfeld to be New Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation". 31 December 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  21. ^ Friedman, Brandis (21 May 2019). "Lightfoot Keeps Police and Schools Chiefs, Makes Additional Appointments". WTTW News. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  22. ^ "Mayor Lightfoot Announces Gia Biagi to Serve as Commissioner for the Chicago Department of Transportation". City of Chicago. 10 December 2019. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  23. ^ Blumberg, Nick (10 December 2019). "Lightfoot Names City Transportation Commissioner". Chicago Tonight. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  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 links

This page was last edited on 12 May 2022, at 04:27
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