The research for and writing of this history would not have taken place without the support and encouragement of Art Biciunas, former CATS Executive Director and CATS Acting Executive Director Don Kopec. I also need to thank Don and his staff for taking care of all of the things needed to obtain financial support for me in this effort. The final product of the effort will be a history of the Chicago Area Transportation Study that covers early road building and funding, transit issues in Chicago, Cook County expressway planning and the construction, the organization of CATS, the first CATS plan and CATS as the transportation planning agency.
Thanks to a recommendation by Keith Scully from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, I was able to acquire a copy of Bruce Seely's book Building the American Highway System. The book formed the basis for my narrative in part one describing the activities of the US Bureau of Public Roads (BPR) and its predecessor agencies from the turn of the last century until the passage of the Interstate Highway Act in 1956. The book is brimming with information on the events and people involved in creating America's highways. Other publications such as FHWA by a Day authored by Richard Wiengroff were also important resources, without them it would have been impossible for me to put the events that took place in the nation, Illinois, Cook County, and Chicago into the proper context and establish the important role played by BPR and it’s predecessor agencies in planning and creating the highways in the Chicago region. Without the Cook County Highways magazine it would have been impossible to tie together many of the decisions made by county on the expressway system. Carl Kowalski who was with both the IDOT and Cook County Highway Department was kind enough to lend me what is likely the only surviving full set of this invaluable resource.
I would be remiss if I did not mention several people, Ed Christopher, Art Peterson John LaPlante, George Guderley and Mike Hartigan who always responded magnificently to my plea’s for help, be it a date, name or something more obscure. They were willing to search sources for names, connect me with other people who might have information I needed, edit my sometimes-butchered text and generously go the extra mile to help me out. I have kept Ed Christopher’s and Al Figal’s comprehensive listing of the dates when the various sections of the expressways in Cook County opened at my side as I researched and wrote this history.
I also need to thank the dozen individuals who took the time to provide me with first-hand accounts of the events, people and work that was occurring as the expressways were being built and as CATS was developing their first plan. Their willingness to talk about their experiences put some “meat on the bones” of this tale and brought home to me the realization that it was really about some extraordinary people who worked together to accomplish the monumental task of building more than 200 miles of urban expressways and supporting the first large metropolitan transportation plan. A list of those individuals is at the end of the history.