Better mobility for passengers and transit drivers, more green space and putting people first are just some of the potential improvements to North DuSable Lake Shore Drive touted by Redefine the Drive project leaders on Thursday.
Redefine the Drive is a years-long effort by the Illinois and Chicago Departments of Transportation to improve the iconic, aging road. Currently, there are five options on the table for reconfiguring lanes:
The Essential would not change the current layout of the tracks but would give priority to the buses at the entrances and exits.
The addition would add a fifth lane just for transit.
The interchange would convert an existing lane for transit, leaving three for drivers.
The Flex and Double Flex options would convert one or two lanes for use by buses and drivers willing to pay a toll.
In a virtual meeting of the task force working on the redesign, members of the Redefine the Drive team presented a study on how different potential configurations would affect travel times for passengers and transiting drivers in different weather conditions during morning and evening rush hours. The four options with bus-only lanes or bus-only and toll lanes were the best for transit travel times. The Essential, the Addition and the Flex offer the best travel times for drivers.
Critics of the project have called on planners to stop considering the addition, saying an extra lane – even if it’s reserved for transit – will eat away at the land around the Drive and encourage more people to drive around. , as the carriageway will have more capacity in non-through lanes.
“We’re looking at different ways to prioritize transit,” said Pete Harmet of engineering firm CBBEL, which worked on the study. “Each of the alternatives limits the auto ability in some way…I think we cover that quite extensively.”
The meeting also outlined expected green space improvements, both in the “transportation footprint” – things like carriageway median, setbacks at on and off ramps and separation of the Inner and Outer Drive – as well as Lincoln Park, which occupies nearly 1.2 million acres on the Ohio Lake on the south end to Ardmore in Edgewater on the north end. Project planners say all options on the table would create a net gain of 80 acres or more of parkland. Even if the size of the Drive increases, the proposed infilling of Lake Michigan would compensate. It’s also an opportunity to shore up the edge of the lake, which has been battered in recent years due to high water levels and violent storms.
At Thursday’s meeting, officials announced an online survey open to the public to learn more about how people use the lakefront and gather suggestions for how it could be improved. An observational study has also been announced to see who spends time by the lake and how they interact with it. Study volunteers, drawn from the task force and project team members, are to take four-hour shifts to document what they see at four lakeside locations on a Thursday and Saturday. of June.
The study will allow planners “to understand how the site is used today: who is there, who is not there, and how the space encourages or discourages certain types of behavior,” said the company’s Sophie Kvist. of urban design Gehl, who is working on the project.
“With the changes coming and being developed…there is an incredible opportunity to build on this original vision for this lakefront and celebrate the lakefront as this great asset to public life that it is “, said Kvist. “To ensure that the lakeside continues to be and is a place for people, we need to refocus the design conversation on people and experience.”
Meeting participants raised concerns about ways to reduce speed through road design. Since one of the project’s long-standing goals is to remove the traffic-causing red light on Chicago Avenue, planners say they are limited in how they can reduce speeds without signalized intersections. . The redesigned Drive is expected to have 11-foot-wide lanes, a common size on arterials and one foot shorter than highway-sized lanes. Project observers have also called for safer lakeside access for cyclists and pedestrians, which planners have pledged to create.
Project leaders expect to discuss a preferred design for the reconfiguration at a working group meeting in the fall and hold a public meeting in the winter. A final choice on the redesign is expected by the end of next year. Early construction estimates put the price tag at $3.4 billion to $3.7 billion, with officials planning to seek federal, state and local funding.
You can view the presentation from Thursday’s meeting here and complete the lakeside survey here.