North Lake Shore Drive is in line for an overhaul, and planners want your input | Chicago News

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North Lake Shore Drive is being rebuilt; redefine that. As part of the years-long Redefine the Drive project, the Illinois and Chicago Departments of Transportation gathered feedback and proposed potential ways to redesign the Drive from Grand to Hollywood. They’ve narrowed it down to a few options, and they’re looking for your input before an upcoming public meeting.

Lake Shore Drive is iconic. But with icon status comes an aging infrastructure.

“Some are up to 80 years old and need a complete replacement,” said Nate Roseberry, assistant chief highway engineer with the Chicago Department of Transportation. “This is an opportunity for us to…look at some opportunities to really rethink the area and address some issues as we rebuild the road.”

Problems not only like a crumbling infrastructure, but also security and mobility for all types of users.

“One of the things we heard, definitely, was to improve access not just to North Lake Shore Drive itself, but really to the park, which is an iconic park,” said Steve Schilke, chief of the projects and environmental studies section of the department of Illinois. Transport.

Based on road needs and public feedback, planners came up with what they call the Essential: lakeside access every quarter mile, grade separation for the lakeside trail where it crosses the east-west streets, removal of the pesky signal at Chicago Avenue, and shoreline reinforcement, which has taken a hit lately.

“All the things we consider essential to install, regardless of which alternative we choose,” Roseberry said.

Adding (with permission to redefine drive)

The alternatives aim to improve bus travel. The addition would add a fifth lane in the center, just for transit. The interchange would convert an existing lane for public transit, leaving three for general use. Urban planners are also considering the Flex and Double Flex options: creation of one or two lanes usable by buses, and by motorists willing to pay a toll.

“How can we improve and how can we manage traffic more? How can we further improve the reliability of this transit? Schilke said.

But, as always, a major project like this has raised concerns about changing the character of the lakeside.

“Lake Shore Drive needs improvements, but we don’t want to see Lake Shore Drive reconfigured to such an extent that it becomes a freeway,” said Ward Miller of Preservation Chicago. He thinks past renovations, like near McCormick Place, have created a broad, interstate feel. He’s also hesitant about trench pavement, like what’s on the table at Chicago Avenue.

“We want to keep that boulevard character on the road,” Miller said.

Juanita Irizarry of Friends of the Parks agrees. She fears that the expansion of the Drive will put the parks at risk.

“Our preference is that improvements be made to smooth traffic to improve access to public transit, but not to create more lanes for cars,” Irizarry said. And while she appreciates the project’s attention to shoreline stability, “we think this project really should be part of a much larger and more comprehensive conversation about our lakeside erosion problem. “

Others think the transit improvements don’t go far enough. Better Streets Chicago’s Kyle Lucas says activists have had to fight to retain the option that converts a bus lane. And he wants planners to think bigger, like bus rapid transit, “bringing transportation closer to the edge of town, then creating something like an L line at a fraction of the cost.”

Another idea: protected bike lanes in both directions, since Lucas says the lakeside trail isn’t always convenient for cyclists.

(Courtesy redefine drive)(Courtesy redefine drive)

“And none of that takes away access to cars,” Lucas said, “but we think the data suggests that if we were to really invest in alternative modes of transportation, we would need a lot less space. for cars by the lake.We could drastically reduce the road footprint and create more parking spaces for people to enjoy.

UIC’s Kate Lowe worries about focusing too much on congestion because transportation is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases in the United States. “We should instead make the reduction in vehicle miles traveled a major motivating factor,” Lowe said.

While she acknowledges that improving public transit is one of the goals, she says that “…at the heart of the project is enabling car travel during peak hours. Rush-hour downtown commuters are disproportionately affluent, so this project would speed up their commutes and not solve the transit deserts on the south and west sides.

For their part, IDOT and CDOT say the project is multimodal, forward-looking and an effort to balance many different interests.

“Everyone loves Lake Shore Drive, but they love it for different reasons, and so that’s something we definitely tried to incorporate into our design,” CDOT’s Roseberry said.

Public comments on the five proposed designs are open until November 9. Click here to learn more about the potential redesigns and to submit your feedback on the project.


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