Seven Chicago-region transportation agencies convened April 22 for a first-of-its-kind Earth Day XL Transportation Summit to improve coordination among the region�s transportation leaders.

At the downtown Chicago summit, chairs of Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Chicago Transit Authority, Illinois Tollway, Metra, Pace, RTA and Illinois Department of Transportation signed the first-ever Earth Day XL Accord.

This set of guiding principles for the region�s transportation and transit agencies includes: committing to work toward a shared transportation vision for the region; supporting multi-agency information sharing and coordination; examining programs and proposals to maximize efficiency, reducing costs; and improving service; and reporting publicly on Earth Day 2011 about progress and plans for future collaboration.

�The intent was to get people thinking outside their individual agency,� says Joelle McGinnis, press secretary for the Illinois Tollway. �It�s getting rail transportation to think about surface transportation and vice versa. We encourage all agencies to work together in the future not only for coordinating construction repairs, but for new projects.�

Gov. Pat Quinn also spoke at the summit, emphasizing the need for a coordinated and effective transportation system for Chicago�s business climate, employment base, quality of life, natural environment, and for reducing its carbon footprint.

The summit also provided statistics affecting transportation planning. For instance, 8.1 million people lived in the Chicago region in 2000 and by 2040 that number is expected to increase by 2.8 million or 34 percent. Families in the region spend more than $30 billion on transportation each year. Businesses in the region spend $26 billion moving goods each year and nearly 50 percent of that amount is spent on goods transported by truck.

In 2009, 284 municipalities, 83 townships and seven counties, as well as IDOT, the Toll Highway Authority, RTA, CTA, Metra and Pace managed and maintained the region�s transportation network.