Motorists, transit riders and commuters might ask themselves a question as they edge deeper into the new year: Do they feel lucky in 2013?
The year promises to be noteworthy -- and at times challenging -- considering the many transportation projects and initiatives that lie ahead for bus and train riders, highway travelers, even cyclists.
From turnstiles to toll roads, commuters will be greeted by new ways to pay fares while extreme makeovers loom for many of their train lines, stations and favorite routes to work.
In total, billions of dollars will be spent on improving the way Chicagoans get around.
Here are 13 of the most wide-ranging projects and programs to be on the lookout for in 2013.
1. Widening, rebuilding Jane Addams tollway
The Illinois Tollway plans to spend about $415 million this year to begin rebuilding and widening the eastbound lanes of the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) from Rockford to Elgin
That's only the first phase of a $2.2 billion project that, when complete in 2016, will provide eight lanes from the Kennedy Expressway to Randall Road and six lanes from Randall Road to I-39.
Complete in: 2016
2. New interchange at I-90, Highway 47
The interchange is expected to open in 2013 on the Addams at Illinois Highway 47 near Huntley.
The $61 million project includes six new ramps with all-electronic toll plazas and a bridge carrying Highway 47 over I-90.
The interchange will feature such green construction elements as a geothermal water piping system, trellised greenery and ramp shoulder pavement that allows stormwater to seep through and reduce runoff, officials said.
Complete in: 2013
3. Connecting I-294 and I-57
Motorists will encounter more road work between the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) and I-57 near Markham as construction begins on ramps connecting the two interstates.
The project is a $719 million joint effort between the tollway and IDOT on a site that is one of only a few places in the U.S. where interstates cross but do not connect. IDOT started work on its portion last year.
Cost: $719 million
4. CTA, Pace to launch Ventra smart card
This summer, the CTA and Pace will launch the Ventra smart-card payment system. Commuters can use a single fare card to pay for bus and rail.
The card will function like a prepaid debit card and also can be used to make some nontransit purchases.
CTA and Pace riders will have the option to pay fares with their credit and debit cards as well as cash. Payments using smartphones will be offered later, officials said.
The CTA awarded a $454 million contract to Cubic Transportation Systems in 2011 to develop the fare system.
Starting in: Summer
5. Metra looking at payment options
That new Ventra card won't work on Metra. But the commuter rail agency says it hopes to initiate a pilot project this summer for accepting credit cards on trains and also for some type of universal fare payment method.
Metra officials said the approach could be similar to the paperless ticketing system--using iPhones, Androids or BlackBerrys--that the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority in the Boston
area is testing. 6. Higher fares for CTA and Metra
If they haven't already noticed, many CTA riders--those who use passes--are paying more starting this week. The first fare hike since 2009 affects one-day, three-day, seven-day and 30-day passes and is projected to generate about $56 million a year for the CTA.
The base fare remains $2.25, except for Blue Line riders who pay with cash or buy a ticket from a machine to depart from O'Hare International Airport
. The new fare from O'Hare will be $5.
The CTA 30-day pass costs $100, up from $86, and a seven-day pass rose to $28 from $23. Three-day passes are $20, up from $14, and one-day passes are $10, up from $5.75.
On Feb. 1, many Metra riders will pay more. The price of 10-ride tickets is scheduled to increase by 11 percent.
The price increase will range from $2.75 to $9.25, depending on distance. The increase means 10-ride tickets will cost the equivalent of 10 one-way rides, instead of nine.
The price of monthly passes, which are purchased by about 57 percent of Metra customers, and one-way tickets are not increasing.
Starting in: Jan.-Feb.
7. Upgrades ahead for O'Hare
The second new runway to be built in more than 40 years at O'Hare International Airport is scheduled to open in October. The new $1.2 billion runway will help reduce delays, increase capacity and accommodate the next generation of large aircraft, including the Boeing 747B and Airbus A380, according to O'Hare officials.
Construction also is expected to start this year on O'Hare's third air traffic control tower.
8. Bike-sharing test, protected lanes
The Chicago Department of Transportation plans to test a bike-sharing rental program in early May with 75-150 initial stations. The goal is to have 400 stations in place by December.
Chicago plans to create at least 35 miles of new protected bike lanes with a goal of having 100 miles of bike lanes by 2015.
The city is still identifying some locations, but the most significant will be on Wells Street, Clybourn Avenue, Milwaukee Avenue, Halsted Street and Lake Street.
9. Red Line rebuild: South branch
In May, the entire branch of the CTA Red Line south of Roosevelt Road will be shut down for about five months while tracks and signals are replaced to create what CTA President Forrest Claypool
calls "a whole new railroad."
CTA officials acknowledge that South Siders will endure inconveniences during the $425 million project that will temporarily suspend Red Line service between Cermak-Chinatown and the 95th Street terminal.
Shuttle buses will take riders to Green Line stations. The CTA is also working with Pace and Metra to provide improved connections to the Metra Electric District and the Rock Island Line.
Starting in: May
10. Rehabbing CTA, Metra stations
Reconstruction of the badly deteriorated CTA Wilson station is slated to begin midyear. The $203 million project will be one of the largest 'L' station projects in the agency's history.
During the five-month shutdown of the south Red Line, the CTA also will make improvements at eight of the nine stations on the branch. The fixes will range from cosmetic repairs to new roofs, canopies and elevators at some stations, officials said.
Construction is scheduled to begin this year on a new station at Washington/ Wabash on the Loop elevated structure. The $75 million station will replace two 116-year-old stations on Wabash, at Randolph and at Madison. The new station will have larger platforms, elevators and other improvements, officials said.
Construction also is slated to begin this year on a new station on the Green Line at Cermak Road near McCormick Place
. The station will fill a two-mile gap on the Green Line between the Roosevelt and 35th/Bronzeville stations.
Metra will start or continue rehab work on stations at Cicero on the BNSF Line; Oak Forest on the Rock Island; Flossmoor on the Electric District; and Ravenswood on the UP North Line.
11. New Pace buses, service on I-55
Pace customers will see upgraded rides in 2013. Sixty-nine new stainless steel and fiberglass buses, costing $400,000 each, will be in service by spring.
Fifteen of them will be "express-style" vehicles bound for travel on Pace routes that operate on the Stevenson Expressway (I-55) and the Tri-State Tollway (I-294). These buses feature amenities such as high-back seats with extra cushioning and overhead luggage racks, and they are Wi-Fi-capable.
Pace plans to expand the express bus service that runs on the shoulders of the Stevenson by adding more runs on its 755 and 855 routes. Those connect the southwest suburbs with the Illinois Medical District and with the University of Illinois at Chicago, the Loop
and North Michigan Avenue
. 12. Battling 'slow zones'
A $66 million CTA project
to reduce "slow zones" is set for the fall between the Merchandise Mart
and Armitage Avenue on the Brown and Purple lines along a segment known as the Ravenswood Connector. Aging tracks and deteriorated equipment will be replaced, leading to faster commutes, officials said.
Brown Line and Purple Line/Evanston Express service over the Wells Street bridge will be suspended during two nine-day periods in early March and late April to accommodate a $41.2 million reconstruction of the drawbridge.
Starting in: Fall
13. Algonquin Road bypass
IDOT anticipates completing the $71 million Algonquin Road bypass project in McHenry and Kane counties, with four lanes to open by the fall.
Work is also expected to be completed this summer on the $55 million reconstruction and widening of Illinois Highway 56 (Butterfield Road) in DuPage County.
Bypass cost: $71M
Opening in: Fall
SOURCES: CTA, Illinois Tollway, Illinois and Chicago departments of transportation