The city of Chicago has announced three projects aimed to help pedestrians and cyclists reach the lakefront without battling through Lake Shore Drive. While the projects aren’t directly connected, all concern the safety and ease surrounding getting pedestrians to the lake.
The three projects are on a very different time table and on opposite ends of the city. On the city’s south side, developers hope to break ground on a pedestrian bridge over Lake Shore Drive at 35th street. The new bridge will be replacing the old, decaying bridge that currently stands there. Project details show a bridge that the new bridge will be a suspension bridge, and the first of its kind over Lake Shore Drive. Developers James McHugh Construction Co. and Araiza Corporation released a statement saying “The bridge crosses over Lake Shore Drive on a reverse horizontally curved alignment to provide for panoramic views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline.”
The current bridge is expected to be closed sometime next week with construction kicking off later in the month. The 620-foot bridge is planned to be finished by the fall of 2015.
A similar plan has been announced for a bridge crossing Lake Shore at 43rd street. The bridge was first promised for the neighborhood in 2009, but has little to no progress since. In the original plan the 43rd street bridge was also going to be a curved suspension bridge, but there is no set plan yet on what it will look like. Work on this project isn’t expected to start until 2015 with it completed a year later.
The biggest of the three projects is also the furthest in the future. City officials are still taking submissions and ideas on a way to open more entrances to the lakefront on north Lake Shore, specifically in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Currently the neighborhood only has two direct access points to the beach that are roughly a mile apart. The lakefront path has received criticism of late because of the overcrowding and danger for pedestrians as cyclists, runners and walkers all share the same area. The new project, whenever completed, is expected to alleviate much of the congestion.
Many different ideas and concepts have been submitted to the city, but the project is far from underway. It is expected to cost roughly $1 billion and construction won’t begin until 2019 or 2020.