(CHICAGO) Downtown motorists will have to endure more lane closures over the next 10 weeks — this time to pave the way for the steel beams that will support the long-awaited Navy Pier Flyover.
Two lanes of Grand Avenue will be closed for five weeks, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting. Three weeks of daytime closures during off-peak hours are planned on northbound Lake Shore Drive. And five weeks of traffic headaches will be required on Illinois Street.
The 1.5 mile, $60 million project is aimed at eliminating a notorious bottleneck along the lakefront path near Navy Pier that has created a dangerous free-for-all between cyclists, joggers, skaters, pedestrians and motorists. The dedicated bike and pedestrian path will be 16 feet wide and extend from Jane Addams Park to just south of the Chicago River Bridge.
It will offer a safe and scenic alternative to a confusing and dangerous stretch of the 18.5-mile lakefront trail that features blind corners, narrow rights-of-way and traffic conflicts that choke the trail and create a hazardous experience for pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles.
The lakefront trail has remained open to pedestrians and cyclists during the four-year construction project, but officials have warned of periodic detours.
On Monday, the Chicago Department of Transportation announced another round.
Starting this week on Grand Avenue, commuters already inconvenienced by the downtown bus rapid transit project should anticipate closure of: two westbound lanes between North Streeter Drive and North Lake Shore Drive; the island at the northeast corner of Grand and lower Lake Shore Drive with pedestrians directed to the south sidewalk of Grand and intermittent night-time closures from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. On Wednesday nights for Navy Pier fireworks, the 10 p.m. closure time will be pushed back to accommodate exiting traffic.
Starting in late July or early August, the work between Lake Shore Drive and Lake Point Tower will require closure of: the two lanes on upper northbound LSD on weekdays between Illinois and Grand from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the east sidewalk of lower Lake Shore Drive with pedestrians detoured around Lake Point Tower and onto the west sidewalk of lower Lake Shore Drive.
Once the work on Grand is done, traffic on Illinois will be reduced to two lanes near the intersection of Illinois and lower Lake Shore Drive with intermittent night-time closures from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
The project is being carried out in three phases. The first phase is the north segment, which began construction in March 2014. Starting at the north end of Jane Addams Park, the path rises over the Ohio Street underpass and Grand Avenue onto upper Lake Shore Drive behind Lake Point Tower.
It will then cross over Illinois and terminate north of Ogden Slip. In addition, a ramp down to Navy Pier following the alignment of the Lake Shore Drive off-ramp will be constructed during this phase.
The middle phase is the DuSable segment over DuSable Park, anticipated to begin construction in spring 2016.
The third and final phase is the Lake Shore Drive bridge segment. It will double the width of the sidewalk of the east side of the existing Lake Shore Drive Bridge by cantilevering off the existing structure and passing through the two existing eastside bridge houses. It will connect to the existing path on the south side and the new flyover path on the north side.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has hailed the project as a major step forward for lakefront access.
“Any time you’re going under here, you can hear everybody [yelling], `On your right! On your right!’ Then, you have these young families with children who all have to move over,” the mayor said on the day the construction project finally got off the ground.
“We, as a city, have discussed this. We have debated it. We have deferred it for decades. And now it’s time to build it. With this effort, we will take one of the great jewels of Chicago and open it up for future generations to see something and enjoy something in a way that doesn’t have a mile-[long] gap in those 18 miles that are disruptive to anybody running, walking or biking through this part of the city.”
— Chicago Sun-Times