Lake Shore Drive Rehabilitation: the story of a collaborative community process

To Transit, To Jackson Park, See also Lakefront Access in the Parks News/Park Issues and in Other Parks (Burnham) and The Point. South Lakefront Access Study.

To November-December 2003 Map and project update and prospectus, and the whole project schedule
To Latest explanatory updates

To pictures of 57th underpass preparation work.
57th Beach boardwalk w. drawings and related (from January 2004 JPAC Newsletter)
To Granite paved beach. To Music Court lot page
To city Lake Shore Drive (CDOT site: alerts, updates, the project
The city Lake Shore Drive site has a page of history on Burnham Park and points south
See also our Burnham Park Timeline
For latest bike path information go to CDOT's So. LSD website or bike website.



Logo from City Brochure on LSD Reconstruction


Underpass work

57th underpass start

Installing 63rd underpass barrel arch section. CDOT/Edwards & Kelcey Version of 63rd span and underpass chosen at JPC meeting. CDOT/Kemper-Lesnik

Above: 63rd Street Underpass arch precast sections, rendering of completed underpass as officially approved at JPAC meeting. Plantings rendered will progress from traditional on the park side to dune-type on the beach side. CDOT. Unfortunately, there were changes in template, soldier-row and patch planting and substitution (somewhere downtown) of shrubs for lost trees.

Right: assembled arch sections and piers, with 63rd St Beach House in background above. George Rumsey

Work on the Jackson Park pedestrian/bike underpasses is done. Those at Marquette, 63rd, and 59th use a series of precast arches. Those at 57th use bridge construction.

63rd underpass with span sections in place

Rendering of 59th underpass.  CDOT/Kemper-Lesnik

Concept for 59th Underpass, reflecting classical (Roman) style used at Columbian Exposition. Kemper Lesnick for CDOT

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Local effects, developments in the parks. CDOT has instructed and Walsh s made right the basketball courts, posts and markings in the lot north of Hayes Drive west of Lake Shore Drive.

Tree losses (c. 50 more than had been expected to be necessary), especially very large old-growth trees, took many aback. Trees were replaced in accord with a template (tree for tree, not caliper inch).

However, many tree removals in the area had nothing to do with LSD project, for example south of Hayes near the Golden Lady. Several reasons were given for removals: Canopy extent, especially of low boughs, was not previously established. Equipment needs a certain space. Modern utilities, including new lines to park facilities, take more space and need more durable piping, et al. Underpass construction and protection and the gradual descent into them necessitate severe impacts at underpass sites. The Lakefront Bike Path was widened to 21 feet and straightened to fulfill ADA requirements and provide safety for both cyclists and walkers/runners. Several intersections and crosswalks were straightened and lines-of sight created for signal lights. Also, the Park District took advantage of the opportunity to have removed every sickly, damaged or unwanted tree anywhere near the roadway. Many trees were braced against equipment.

All lost trees were to be replaced per caliper inch with (young, of course) replacement trees from a broad palette, including bird and wildlife-friendly trees. There were whole new landscapes with grasses, cover, shrubs, and trees of many shapes and canopy heights, many of these creating formal or naturalistic mini-landscapes, especially near and around the underpasses, per drawings shown the Jackson Park Council. Some felt mistakes were made in choices of plants or their placement, especially on banks. In 2007, the Park District is committed to looking at some redesign especially at drops to underpasses.

Nevertheless, experience with the practices of tree contractors teaches us to be wary. It is cheaper for them to let a tree die, replant it, and-- when that one dies, the contractor is off the hook.

Historic fragments from the World's Columbian Exposition, specifically of the Germania monument and statue, located by the Animal Bridge, have been unearthed.

Animal Bridge reconstruction is beautiful.

Animal Bridge figure, before cleaning Animal Bridge hippo
Treasures from the Animal Bridge (1904, Peter J. Weber) to be remounted on the slightly relocated bridge. (Over the Inner Harbor inlet on Coast Guard Drive north of Marquette Drive .Courtesy of Kemper-Lesnick for Chicago Department of Transportation.  

Two other impacts.

Sheet wall and concrete have replaced a stretch of classical ashlar stone bulwark of the Outer Harbor and Channel near Marquette Drive and the Animal Bridge. On the other hand,the old granite-paver remnant of strolling beach will re set north of the 63rd Beach.

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Project highlights, links:


September, 2001 preparatory work started on the 3-year, $162 million reconstruction of Lake Shore Drive from I-55 to 67th Street. The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, the Jackson Park Advisory Council, and many civic organizations, concerned citizens, and elected officials have worked hard in many forums, including the South Lake Shore Drive Advisory Group, to ensure that this project provides a wide range of new and improved amenities, and is not just another road fix-up or give-away to the automobile. The project addresses long-standing safety, congestion, circulation, and pollution issues, including those of pedestrians and bicyclists, and it respects unique and historic Burnham and Jackson Parks, including their naturalized areas and many and various users. Part of the improvement is to be in the finishes, designed to echo the historic period themes of each locale.

Greenspace (even if some is not "useful") is modestly increased, the "temporary" "New Jersey" median and shoulder barriers will be gone, "first flush" rainwater will be sent to city sewers rather than the Lake (using vortex separators) , and views, access, and circulation to the lakeshore and in the parks will be greatly increased, to the extent that raised seawalls will allow. In Jackson Park especially, four new bike-pedestrian underpasses will link the lakeshore with the rest of the park and various traffic-calming and aesthetic devices will help turn the Drive at least pretend to be the "boulevard parkway" it is supposed to be. Many remain skeptical, especially about the utility, safety and cost of underpasses. Alternatives seemed less acceptable--overpasses would have to be extremely long, unsightly, block views and not be any more safe. Access is needed, cannot be at grade, and the only way to make sure kids and adults will not try to dash across the Drive would be to put up high strong walls or fences. There was also dismay at the mess and disruption at 57th beach (partly for the underpass and to build revetment) and by the Animal Bridge and bike trails at Marquette and Coast Guard (LSD) drives. Only time will tell if the results are indeed the spectacular results promised.



Reconstruct the Drive from 23rd to 67th with ramps and intersections at 31st, Oakwood, 50th, 53rd,57th, Hayes, Marquette

Reconfigure lanes and construct new medians with architectural details

Maintain Lake Michigan water quality with a new storm water system

Add green space, landscaping, lighting, utilities and safety features

Restore the Animal Bridge

Improve lakefront access with new underpass and updated paths fully ADA accessible

Improve CTA bus access, especially at 31st

Maintain access to museums, cultural sites, parks, beaches, hospitals, and schools

2002-3: Burnham Park: Two lanes in each direction with a third reversible up to the holiday season, then all open until in spring when the other lanes are done--again 2 in each direction with one reversible.

2002-3: Jackson Park: Southbound uses 57th-Cornell-Marquette until May, Northbound uses Marquette-Richards-Hayes-Lake Shore to May. Check back for route after May.

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