Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning

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The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) (est. 2005) is responsible for comprehensive regional planning in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties in northeastern Illinois.[1] The agency developed and now guides implementation of the GO TO 2040 comprehensive regional plan. To address anticipated population growth of more than 2 million new residents, GO TO 2040 establishes coordinated strategies that help the region's 284 communities address transportation, housing, economic development, open space, the environment, and other quality-of-life issues.[2]


In the summer of 2005, Public Act 094-0510 called for the creation of a new Regional Planning Board to merge operations of the Chicago Area Transportation Study (CATS) and the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission (NIPC).[3] For 50 years, CATS had been responsible for regional transportation planning as the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Chicago region, and over the same period, NIPC was responsible for regional land-use planning. In 2006, the new organization was named the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and submitted a legislatively mandated strategic report to the Governor and General Assembly.[4] Development of the comprehensive regional plan began in September 2007, with development of a regional vision. It continued through two years of research that culminated in 2009 with extensive public outreach that coincided with the centennial of Daniel Burnham's 1909 Plan of Chicago. The resulting "preferred regional scenario" published in January 2010 preceded release of the draft plan for comment in May 2010. And the final GO TO 2040 plan was adopted unanimously by leaders from across the seven counties on October 13, 2010, at which point the agency's efforts shifted to implementation of the plan.[5][6] In 2016, CMAP began development of a successor plan called ON TO 2050, which is scheduled for adoption in October 2018.[7]

Governance and Responsibilities[edit]

Gerald R. Bennett (mayor of Palos Hills, Illinois) chairs the CMAP Board, whose membership features balanced representation from across the seven counties to reflect the regional consensus that led to creation of CMAP.[8] In addition to its authorizing legislation, CMAP operates under a set of by-laws.[9] Led by executive director Joseph C. Szabo, the CMAP staff have diverse capabilities in comprehensive planning, data research and analysis, and many related disciplines. CMAP has committees at the policy, advisory, coordinating, and working levels that play integral roles in the agency's planning processes.[10]

The State of Illinois legislation that created CMAP gave the agency the task of integrating the previously separate topics of land use and transportation into one agency that would protect natural resources, improve mobility, and minimize traffic congestion in the seven-county region. Under federal MAP-21 legislation, CMAP is responsible for developing the region's official transportation plan, part of the broader GO TO 2040 comprehensive plan that integrates transportation with land use, housing, economic development, open space, the environment, and other quality-of-life issues. This transportation plan must be updated every four years, use visualization techniques, engage the general public, and include a separate Transportation Improvement Program document.[11]

GO TO 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan[edit]

GO TO 2040 exists as two documents: a full-length plan that is for policy experts, and a shorter plan that is for a broader audience. Both versions call on local officials, businesses, and other stakeholder groups to implement recommendations that—while very specific—have broad implications for residents' daily lives. The plan is organized[12] into four themes, with 12 recommended action areas:

Livable Communities[edit]

This theme addresses diverse factors that together shape quality of life in terms of "livability"—what attracts people to a particular community. The chapter on Livable Communities includes four sections of recommended actions:

  • Achieve Greater Livability through Land Use and Housing
  • Manage and Conserve Water and Energy Resources
  • Expand and Improve Parks and Open Space
  • Promote Sustainable Local Food

Human Capital[edit]

This theme addresses factors that determine whether the region's economy will thrive due to the availability of skilled workers and a climate in which commercial creativity can flourish. The chapter on Human Capital includes two areas of recommended actions:

  • Improve Education and Workforce Development
  • Support Economic Innovation

Efficient Governance[edit]

This theme addresses the need for increased effectiveness of governments in the region and beyond, which is important to meet residents' needs regarding accountability and transparency. The chapter on Efficient Governance includes three sections of recommended actions:

  • Reform State and Local Tax Policy
  • Improve Access to Information
  • Pursue Coordinated Investments

Regional Mobility[edit]

This theme addresses the vitality of the region's transportation system, which is crucial for economic prosperity and overall quality of life. The chapter on Regional Mobility includes the following sections of recommended actions:

  • Invest Strategically in Transportation
  • Increase Commitment to Public Transit
  • Create a More Efficient Freight Network

This chapter also includes descriptions of major capital projects that were selected to help achieve the GO TO 2040 Regional Vision.

Current Projects[edit]

CMAP and its partners are now developing the ON TO 2050 comprehensive regional plan, which is slated for adoption in October 2018.[13] The launch of the plan's development was featured by WTTW television in the February 23, 2016 edition of Chicago Tonight.[14] During April-August 2017, CMAP engaged residents and stakeholder groups who were invited to comment on five "Alternative Futures."[15] The public can also provide feedback about ON TO 2050 topics being studied for Strategy Papers and Snapshot Reports currently in development. Since 2010, the agency's activities have focused primarily on support for the implementation of GO TO 2040. Its annual work plan and budget document[16] describe the current fiscal year's projects, and the previous year's are described in an annual report.[17] On October 14, 2010, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Sustainable Communities Initiative announced a three-year, $4.25 million award to CMAP for technical assistance to communities seeking to implement GO TO 2040.[18] The grant led CMAP to create a Local Technical Assistance (LTA) program that helps communities across the Chicago metropolitan region to undertake planning projects that advance the principles of GO TO 2040.[19]

The agency is engaged on a number of policy fronts at the local, regional, state, and federal levels. CMAP is advocating the use of congestion pricing to maximize the public benefits of five GO TO 2040 expressway projects.[20] As recommended in the plan, in early 2012 a regional task force submitted an advisory report to the CMAP Board with recommendations on the reform of state and local tax policy.[21] CMAP is analyzing the economic benefits of regional industry clusters such as freight and advanced manufacturing.[22] The proposed extension of Illinois Route 53 in Lake County was identified as one of the GO TO 2040 major capital projects; in November 2015, a corridor planning strategy was issued by the Illinois Route 53/120 Land Use Committee, which the agency staffed in partnership with the Illinois Tollway Authority and Lake County.[23]


CMAP is the recent recipient of awards from the American Planning Association, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Transportation Research Board, and more.[24]

  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Smart Growth Award. In February 2014, the U.S. EPA announced that the GO TO 2040 comprehensive regional plan received its 2013 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement in the category of policies, programs, and plans.[25]
  • APA National Planning Excellence Award for a Planning Agency. In January 2013, the American Planning Association that CMAP received the first-ever National Planning Excellence Award for a Planning Agency. The award recognizes not just CMAP's but the region's planning efforts, but the many local government, business, and civic partners involved in implementing the GO TO 2040 comprehensive regional plan.[26]
  • ULI Chicago Vision Award. In June 2013, the Urban Land Institute Chicago honored the GO TO 2040 comprehensive regional plan and CMAP with one of its Vision Awards, which recognizes innovation in the development and growth of vibrant communities within the Chicago metropolitan region.[27]
  • Metropolitan Planning Council Burnham Award for Excellence in Planning. In July 2012, MPC gave CMAP its Burnham Award for Excellence in Planning for the GO TO 2040 comprehensive regional plan.[28]
  • Transportation Planning Excellence Award. In July 2012, the Transportation Research Board, Federal Highway Administration, and Federal Transit Administration gave CMAP and GO TO 2040 the national Transportation Planning Excellence Award[29]


  1. ^ "Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning picks new leader", Chicago Tribune, June 10, 2015 
  2. ^ Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) website.
  3. ^ Chicago Tribune, "Seven-county planning board launches," October 21, 2005.
  4. ^ CMAP Strategic Report on Vision, Governance, and Funding, September 2006.
  5. ^ GO TO 2040 process archive.
  6. ^ Media coverage of GO TO 2040 adoption, October 2013.
  7. ^ ON TO 2050[
  8. ^ About CMAP web page.
  9. ^ CMAP by-laws, revised November 28, 2007.
  10. ^ CMAP committees pages.
  11. ^ US DOT, FHWA. Fact Sheets on Highway Provisions. Retrieved 2007-10-03. 
  12. ^ GO TO 2040 comprehensive regional plan, full version October 13, 2010.
  13. ^ "ON TO 2050 - CMAP". Retrieved 2016-08-27. 
  14. ^ Baer, Geoffrey (February 23, 2016). "WTTW feature about CMAP ON TO 2050 plan". Retrieved August 27, 2016. 
  15. ^ "ON TO 2050 Alternative Futures". Retrieved 2017-08-02. 
  16. ^ CMAP budget and work plan (including archives).
  17. ^ CMAP annual report (including archives).
  18. ^ Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (2010). "HUD awards agency $4.25 million to implement GO TO 2040 plan". Archived from the original on 2010-10-22. Retrieved 2010-10-19. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-10-22. Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  19. ^ CMAP Local Technical Assistance (LTA) program web page.
  20. ^ CMAP congestion pricing website.
  21. ^ Regional Tax Policy Task Force advisory report, February 8, 2012.
  22. ^ CMAP industry cluster reports.
  23. ^ OpenPlans. "Illinois Route 53/120 Corridor Land Use Plan". Retrieved 2016-08-27. 
  24. ^
  25. ^!OpenDocument
  26. ^
  27. ^[permanent dead link]
  28. ^
  29. ^

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