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South Lakefront Access Study and improvement plans and timetables

A service of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Transit and Parking Committee and the HPKCC website,
Help support our work: Join the Conference!

Join the Transit Task Force-contact chairman James Withrow.

South Lakefront Corridor Transit Study 2011- see in CTA page.

Contacts: Luann Hamilton, Director of Transportation Planning 312 744-1987, Keith Privett, Project Manager, 312 744-1981

2014: The new 35 St. ADA bridge over Lake Shore Drive (to the beach) will be constructed, at $22M ($8M more). And the #35 bus will go to the 31st beach in summer- started.
In Sept. city state and federal officials announced that the full funding has been found for the bridges at 41st (to the beach) and 43rd. Full design now begins.

2014. Chicago Park District reconstruced parts of the trails across the center of Jackson Park equiv. of 5900 to 63rd enhancing connectivity between the Midway and the Lakefront Trail- past tennis courts and to the 59th underpass. This is in conjunction with the Nike International Basketball festival in summer 2014. In conjunction with this and other festivals this summer additional paths will be done leading south to 63rd St.

Lakefront access was a prime topic of the "Last Four Miles" study and charrette process by Friends of the Parks and others, culminating in May and June 2006. The program seeks to complete public ownership and access to and along the entire Chicago lakefront, including the stretch between South Shore Cultural Center and Rainbow Beach and the USX area.

The next meeting on the Morgan Shoal (45th-51st) shoreline will be in mid December.

And work to the north of here along the Drive has drawn considerable attention-- first the removal of so many invasive trees and brush and so far partially complete replanting, the yearly cycles of native planting- mowing- spring burns, the oversized and inadequately serviced 31st marina, and now vast removals for the 35th overpass, with two more to come.

from Ald. Burns' Newsletter: Construction of the 35th Street Pedestrian Bridge has begun. Effective now, the bridge will be closed. The project is expected to be completed by the Fall of 2015. It includes, but is not limited to the following:

Removal of the existing pedestrian bridge
Resurfacing and improvements to 35th Street from South Cottage Grove to South Lake Park Avenue
Resurfacing and improvements on South Lake Park Avenue between 35th Street and 36th Street
Patching and reconstructing sidewalks on South Lake Park Avenue and 35th Street
Removal and reconstruction of street lighting on South Lake Park Avenue and 35th Street
Furnishing and installing roadway lighting and accent lighting on the proposed bridge structure
Construction of and landscaping for pedestrian plaza areas at the east and west approaches to the proposed bridge
Relocation of a cantilever sign on northbound, South Lake Shore Drive

The Lakefront Bike Trail

As of April 2015 Dadrrow bridge is securely closed. This cuts the main internal access through Jackson Park. Restoration work is not expected before 2017. Also, Wooded Island and is fenced off for habitat wok and rebuilding the island road.

I n 2012, Friends of the Parks, Active Transportation Alliance, and Chicago Area Runners Association began a study of the Lakefront Bike Trail. A preliminary survey was done, series of public meetings which reported and sought input were hosted by the conveners, including in Jackson Park fieldhouse, and an online survey conducted. At the meetings, people not only submitted comments but paced dots and comments on large maps setting forth problem locations and types, opportunities for improvements, and principles for the trail, its use, and interactions with other modes. The survey had 1,569 responses according to a preliminary report in Friends of the Parks Advocate. The trail is used weekly by over 75,000, including cyclists, runners walkers, and skateboarders, rollerbladers, dog walkers, and bird watchers. Bikers were the largest users, followed by running, and walking.

User's issues/solutions:
1. Separate spaces for walking, biking, running incl. soft surfaces, boardwalks
2. Reduce congestion and conflicts
3. Educate on safety and etiquette
4. Maintain including surface materials
5 & 6. Make bathroom and fountains etc. accessible including year round
7. Improve lighting and personal safety
8. Fill the gaps
9. Improve safety along the feeder streets

10. Reduce street/trail crossings.

Focus was on eliminating congestion, safety-etiquette, especially along conflict/crunch points
Friends has launched a "Share the Shore" etiquette campaign with GolinHarris, according to the Advocate.

There was strong support for widening the path and separating different uses; completing the Last Four Miles; introducing "adopt a path;"move concessions away from the Trail; enforce rules and ordinance including with police and bike ambassadors;, more signage, lighting, and police presence.

People form come park councils and organizations walked the trail and reported specific points of deterioration, hazard, or conflicts. The final report should be out at the end of 2012. GMO.

[There is concern about difficulty of access at various points such as obsolete overpasses on south Lakeshore Drive and Metra-- scheduled to be replaced, in parks, and at the new 31st harbor.]

A major exhibit was held, "Bridging the Drive: Pedestrian Bridge Designs for Lake Shore Drive," at the Chicago Architecture Foundation; winners chosen in January 2005. The 47th overpass will open 3rd or 4th week in November- wider, ADA and with safe landings. Landscape will be done in the spring.

In January 2007 the Sun-Times published a contrasting picture of one of the winners with one of the depressing current bridges in the 3000's, asking why can't that look like this? The design is ergonomic, economic of space, highly aesthetic and dynamic, and lets light in all sides and is friendly to the environment. Walter Netsch is looking at new designs to bridge Columbus and the Drive at Buckingham Fountain at Congress.

One morning in Late July 2005, the bridge at 47th will be town down an a new ADA accessible span lifted, necessitating a temporary closure and traffic detour. Until the project is done about November, bike/ped crossers should use 50th, not 43rd if possible.

The 35th, 41st and 43rd, which will span the Metra tracks as well as the Drive, may start early 2006.

"To do's"- find out what progress is being made on the Hyde Park Wayfinding and Pedestrian Improvements recommendation, Marquette Trail Richards to Stony, and Congressman Jackson's progress on long-term solution (underpass) at 67/South Shore. Some HP residents wish that something be done short-term about the 51st overpass. Residents to the north seek priority for the 43rd or 45th overpass, not just progress on 35, 41, and 47. There is concern about impact for ped/bike from a full traffic roundabout at the Statue of the Republic (not in the recs). Plans should be elucidated for the Plaisance-Lakefront Trail Connector--all funded? rebuilt paths?

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) has since 2000 conducted a wide-ranging study of the needs and practical options for better access, including ADA, for bikes and pedestrians, to and along the lakefront. Several public meetings participated in by HPKCC, other community organizations, park advisory councils, businesses and residents have been held. Planners attended other public studies such as South Lake Shore Drive and Lakeshore 35th, 47th-51st where the public expressed its strong interest in this matter and gave suggestions to CDOT. Likewise with park planning such as Harold Washington and with Burnham, Jackson Park and Midway Framework planning. Design competitions* and RFPs have been held, as well as coordinations with such projects as Lakeshore Protection, South Lake Shore Drive Reconstruction, Streets for Cycling, and various Department of Planning Pedestrian-Friendly initiatives. A major question has been how much to invest in major projects such as overpasses and underpasses and how much should be invested in small projects that will dovetail into improved access within communities along the lakefront from McCormick Place to the Indiana border.

*A major selling point for the massive Lake Park Crescent redevelopment on former CHA land is the planned pedestrian bridge over Lake Shore Drive to a new beach under construction between 40th and 42nd. The subject of an international design competition held by the city of Chicago, the bridge is being designed by Cordogan Clark & Associates, which has produce an innovative serpentine design.

The study looked at conditions, mathematical models, and input to prioritize 44 potential projects including bridges, intersection improvements, tail and route improvements and new segments, and improved wayfinding.

While the study was in progress, five underpasses were built in Jackson Park and the underpass at 55th was upgraded, Some projects beyond the 44 were engineered or constructed. On the other hand, many thought that parts of the lakefront protection changes hindered access and views, as did parts of Lake Shore Drive.

In September, 2004, the Public Summary completed in December, 2003) was released under the name of Miguel d'Escoto, Commissioner. This document set the agenda. Among the 44 recommended projects, partial funding from Federal and state sources has been obtained for the 35th St. bridge and will be for the 41st bridge later in 2004. The 47th bridge should be underway soon. City funds have been identified to improve pedestrian crossing at four intersection, and two projects will be incorporated into into realignment of US-41 at USX South Works in 2006-07. More intersection and trail improvements are slated to be done in Jackson Park in 2004, as well as much signage everywhere.

Some highlights from the Public Summary

The Lakefront trail is 18.5 miles long from Ardmore to the east end of 71st. The south portion is underutilized in part because of low population densities and limited trail access points.


Expected outcomes:

Improved ADA compliance and opportunities for persons with varied abilities were also mentioned.

Prioritization criteria:

Geographic approach and conditions

North Area--Burnham Park

Metra as well as LSD are substantial barriers. There are few pedestrian bridges and these are poorly accessed, dilapidated, or non-compliant. Recommended are new bridges.

Central Area--Jackson to South Shore Cultural Center.

Wayfinding is lacking including to the Trail. Crossings are mostly done now, but at-grade crossings of route 41 are still bad, Bikeways need to be developed in adjacent neighborhoods. Recommended are signage, intersection improvements, an bikeway facilities.

South Chicago Area.

Recommended: extend the Lakefront Trail off-street, improve safety of on-street facilities, more connection as to Burnham Greenway, wayfinding signage, pedestrian facilities at intersections.


Projects were ranged in 5 tiers according to the criteria above, and rearranged by time frames. Tiers 1 and 2 are high priority projects that solve serious and immediate safety concerns--1 should and can be done soon, 2 within five years, 3 are long-range.

Tiers 3 and 4 are medium projects harder to fund or that could have temporary ameliorations in the meantime. 3- 5-10 year time frame, 4-also require increased user demand and/or funding availability.

Tier 5 is a wish list that should be "there" in case opportunities or sudden new necessities arise.

Each project is accompanied with eligible program funds and data identified.

North Segment-Burnham Park Map of Identified Projects Central Segment -Map of Identified Projects


Projects update, September, 2004

Lakefront Trail Wayfinding. Park District contracted for detailed design of kiosks along entire lakefront, to be installed 2004-5

35th Street Ped Bridge. Funding received for engineering and part of construction was in CMAQ FY2005

41st Street Ped Bridge. Funding to be awarded CMAQ FY2005 engineering and part constru.

43rd Street Ped Bridge. Funding sought through reauthorization of TEA-21 and FY2005 CMAQ (Provided in the federal act?)

44th/45th Street Ped Bridge. Accommodated in the Morgan Shoal Plan 2005-07 but not funded. No funding in the Lakefront Protection Project.

47th Street Ped Bridge. Done, opened 2005.

55th Street Underpass. Done.

Neighborhood Wayfinding. Approval of CDOT for new Bike Route sign system adding signs with route names and destinations closely matching existing signs. Begins 2005 as Phase IV of Streets for Cycling. Not done?

57th, 59th, Animal Bridge Underpasses. Done, opened.

Cornell Avenue Plaisance Pedestrian Crossing. CDOT has identified design funding. (Design only or project?) to be completed 2005- not?

Plaisance-Lakefront Trail Connector. CPD awarded Funds in 2005 CMAQ.

67th/South Shore Dr. Short-term design improvement funding id, for 2005. Congressman Jackson working on federal funding for 67th underpass.

71st/SSCC/South Shore/Yates intersection. As for above.

71st-75th Street bike lanes. Installation in 2005 as part of Phase IV Streets for Cycling.

79th/US41/USX Bikeway. 2007-07 as part of US 41 Extension.

104th Burnham Greenway. 2004 as part of Chicago Skyway Reconstruction. Greenway extension to 100th with signal.

At the end of 2005:

The 47th Street overpass was dedicated in a ceremony November 30 (?) 2005

Funding is available to plan, but not to build all, overpasses at 35th, 41st, 43rd, 43rd. Whether there will be a bridge in conjunction with the Morgan Shoals park expansion was unclear.

See possible Harbor expansion amenities below.


Synopsis of the recommended proposals (note that the high-cost items leap-frog in priority). Lack of right-of-way and probable demand place the area between 47th and 55th into low priority for new or replacement overpasses. Planning and funding from 47th to 35 is progressing, 31st and 55th to Marquette done.

Wayfinding for Lakefront trail to 71st. Priority (P) 3

McCormick Place- complete signage for the aces through McCormick Place King to LFTrail. P1

27th Street- an extended replacement for the 27th Metra bridge. P2

29th Street- new bridge at Lake Park behind Michael Reese. Will require wayfinding to/from. P2

31st Street- Lake Shore Drive Pr. widened south sidewalk and made other safety and parking improvements. Done

33rd- new bridge recommended- 625 feet needed. P3

35th- replacement bridge funded. P1 funded

37th- new bridge recommended. P2

39th- bridge update done by Lake Shore Drive Pr. Recommended- bike lanes on Oakwood Blvd King to Lakefront Trail with curb cuts and sidewalks along Oakwood and Pershing. P2

41st- new bridge recommended, needed soon since area is redeveloping and 43rd is unacceptable. P1 funding coming. *A major selling point for the massive Lake Park Crescent redevelopment on former CHA land is this planned pedestrian bridge over Lake Shore Drive to a new beach under construction between 40th and 42nd. The subject of an international design competition held by the city of Chicago, the bridge is being designed by Cordogan Clark & Associates, which has produced an innovative serpentine design.

concept 35th ped. overpass concept 41st ped overpass

43rd/45th corridor- new bridge recommended for new neighborhoods and parkland. P2

47th- replacement bridge up to standards. P1 ready for construction

49th- a bridge or underpass, but even with Morgan Shoals shore expansion there is limited right-of- way. P3

51st- bridge needs at least new ramps and bridge rise is twice guidelines although in good shape. Wayfinding needed. P2

53rd- new bridge or underpass recommended but problematic due to unavailable right of way on east side. P3

55th- p1 done.

Hyde Park wayfinding and pedestrian improvements. Numerous pedestrian infrastructure at intersections and implementing a comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian wayfinding strategy. P3, no information

Neighborhood Wayfinding. signage, kiosks, maps on the on-street bikeway network. P5, but installation starts in 2005.

Jackson Park- underpasses and more. P1 done

Cornell Avenue and Plaisance Ped crossing. Recommend reconfiguration with calming turning movements, narrowing crossing distances, improving pedestrian paths including crossing the road at right angles, and providing curb cuts. (Narrow the turn land and creates a triangular pedestrian refuge median island.) P1 funding found

Plaisance-Lakefront Trail Connector- identified trail from 59th underpass via existing paths around Music Court, darrow bridge, Cornell avenue. West of Cornell new path is required to Midway. P3 but funded in CMAQ 2005

concept redone pedestrian crossing 59th and Cornell concept redone intersection 67th and South Shore (short-term)

Midway Plaisance Metra Underpass. Lighting, sidewalks with curb cuts, extending ped paths to Stony Island. P2

Midway Plaisance Grand Tunnel (through Metra/Canadian National). P3

Midway Plaisance Path- improve either the crushed-rock bridle path or wide sidewalk on south panel to ASHTO bikeway design Washington Park to Cornell and link to Lakefront, with traffic calming at intersections. P2

67th/South Shore- shore-term improvements to ped. infrastructure then underpass or overpass. P1. Short-term funded, long being sought

Stony Island Bikeway- shared-use path or bike lanes along Stony from 56th to Marquette. Lanes as short-term, widen walk on east as necessary. P5

Marquette Drive Side path- shared-use path on north side of Marquette Dr Coast Guard to Stony Island. P1 in design, done east of Richards

South Shore Cultural Center path extension- along the lake, also serving as emergency vehicle access. P4

71st/SSCC crossing- minor traffic improvements including ped refuge islands, re striping, ped countdown signals. P3

71st-75th Street bike lanes- to where trail to go into Rainbow Park. P4

81st-75th Trail extension- on park extension causeway on submerged Lake Park Avenue right of way. P4, Ald. Beavers working on it.

Rainbow Park Access- a series of improvements is recommended: re-route the Trail through the park, inst. ped, bike, auto Wayfinding signage, bike path and sidewalk improvement, auto access improvements. P2

79th St US 41- intersection improvements P4

(Areas to south have no options except riding in the street.) USX Bikeway Plan- safe routes to paths in Rainbow Park, a bikeway with US 41 with access into and through new parks. P2 2006-07

Ewing Bridge access improvements P5

95th St. Ewing Bike Lanes. P4

Ewing and Indianapolis Blvd.- Painting, ped signals, curb ramps, mod. ped signal cycles, removing sidewalk obstructions, refuge islands. P3

104th/Indianapolis and Burnham Greenway- P4

Calumet Park access improvements- P3


In conjunction with planning for new and expanded harbors, amenities accommodating and improving lakefront access are being built into plans.

It is possible that additional access facilities will be needed for the new harbor at 31st (which seems to have no objections).

In Jackson Park, concept wasto expand the 63rd breakwater south to accommodate a new harbor section opposite La Rabida Hospital, with harbors entry changed to the south. The seawall by La Rabida and Promontory Circle would be moved out to include both soft edges with biotic plantings and access for moored and visiting boats and for added parking and walks, and possibly picnicking. The park district in June 2007 announced it did not see god economcic in the Jackson Park project adn was dropping a new harbor in exchange for reconfiguration in the existing harbors.

As part of the above, the juncture of the lakeshore with the 67th-South Shore Drive-Marquette would be bumped out into the lake, an emergency/bike-ped and event exit drive from the South Shore Cultural Center created, and an underpass from the southwest corner of 67th/South Shore to the lakefront trail on the north side of the three-way intersection built. (Whether this would also get one to the northwest side is uncertain).

A harbor at USX (which has no objection although boaters are said to say it would be remotely located) would require upgraded lakefront access.


In 2006, Freinds of the parks and others undertok and exploration of ways to complete the public lakeshore (or at least access to the remaining non-public sections) especially 71st to 75th and by USX and south of Calumet River. A number of charettes, design rollouts, and often rocky small and larger community meetings set forth cncerpts. That for the south is pretty well ready for recomendation after some more countiy meetings. Ideas tor 71st to 75th havd runm into a stonewall of comuntiy opposition. Expert showed pluses and minuses from islands and lagoon, but to no avail. FOTP is now considering concentrating on improved access only along and from South Shore Drive in that sector.