DuSable Lake Shore Drive could get dedicated bus lanes, tolls and more lakeside park space in redesign project

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UPTOWN — Plans to redesign the northern portion of DuSable Lake Shore Drive are coming together as city and state officials unveiled five redesign proposals under consideration for the massive project.

City and state transportation agencies have been working since 2013 on the Redefine the Drive plan to rebuild DuSable Lake Shore Drive from Grand Avenues in Hollywood. Much of the road was built in the 1930s. Although it has been repaved and widened, many of its bridges and tunnels are deteriorating.

Lofty redesign plans have been floated in recent years, including the DuSable Drive tunnel under Oak Street Beach or adding acres of lakefront space to help smooth out its infamous S-curve.

The designs being considered abandoned some of these grand plans while retaining elements such as the addition of lakeside green space, reworked interchanges, and a greater emphasis on public transportation.

DuSable design “alternatives” considered:

  • L’Essentiel: Retains much of the existing street layout while giving buses ‘junction priority’.
  • The Addition: retains four lanes of traffic while adding a fifth lane reserved for buses.
  • The Exchange: Converts one of the four lanes to a bus-only lane.
  • The Flex: converts one of the four lanes into a shared lane for buses and paying drivers.
  • The Double Flex: converts two lanes out of four for bus and toll traffic.

To learn more about the designs offered, click here. To give your opinion on the designs, click here.

Credit: Screenshot/Reset Player
Representations of the five design proposals considered.

All but the “essential” proposals would require new on-ramps in the central median of DuSable Drive, which currently has four lanes of traffic in each direction.

All of the proposals would increase DuSable Drive’s footprint, but the lakefront would have even more green space with a rebuilt roadway, Redefine The Drive project planners said in a virtual meeting Thursday.

Each redevelopment would add at least 83 acres of lakefront green space, and much of that would be through lake infilling that would extend the lakefront park into Lake Michigan, project planners said.

All of the proposals would improve transit performance on DuSable Lake Shore Drive, although two designs (the “swap” and the “double flex”) would slow cars down, according to Thursday’s presentation. This is partly by design, as one of the aims of the project is to give buses priority on the road. Adding more green space to the lakefront makes the roadway more resilient to climate change, said David Miller, an engineer with the Chicago Department of Transportation.

“The status quo does not work. …And accessibility for people with disabilities and others, which is so important, to make sure the lakefront becomes more accessible to everyone,” Miller said.

The results of each reconstruction design on issues such as public transport mobility and green spaces.

In addition to a new streetscape, other critical changes are coming to DuSable Lake Shore Drive.

The existing junction at Chicago Avenue will be reconfigured, planners said. A stop light in Chicago results in significant saves on the drive.

An additional junction also arrives at Addison Street. In Addison and Chicago, the line could drop below grade to improve junctions, officials said.

Engineers will also smooth out the S-curve of the road around Oak Street Beach. A new layout near the beach and Chicago Street will likely include bringing DuSable Lake Shore Drive back slightly below street level, project officials said. But it will not include a previous proposal to build a tunnel near the beach which would be covered by a newly created park space.

Such proposals were too expensive to go ahead with, city officials have previously said.

The five design proposals were discussed at a Redefine The Drive Officials Working Group meeting on Thursday. Planners will continue to assess their feasibility, Miller said.

Officials hope to select a preferred design by the fall. A public meeting on the project is scheduled for late 2022 or early 2023. Funding for the project has yet to be identified before construction moves forward.

Credit: Eric Allix Rogers
North DuSable Lake Shore Drive

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