Every Chicagoan knows Lake Shore Drive is traffic’s worst enemy, but also one of the city’s most breathtaking scenic routes. Planners have struggled for years to try to balance out the traffic while preserving the beauty of the city.
Since being built 80 years ago, Lake Shore Drive has undergone numerous extensions and pedestrian access projects, but nothing has lightened up the congestion of traffic. While these plans did a fine job of leaving the parks and venues along Lake Shore untouched, they did little for the commuters who spend hours on the road.
It seems officials understand this problem seeing as Wednesday, they revealed the most significant redevelopment plans in decades to help ease that traffic, particularly between Grand and Hollywood Avenue, according to the Chicago Tribune. The plan covers this area that is crowded with traffic bottlenecks, pedestrians and cyclists trying to cross and the occasional flooding from Lake Michigan.
The concepts revealed Oak Street and North Avenue beaches being shifted a bit, parkland being added and bike and pedestrian lanes being further separated all in hopes of easing traffic while maintaining the beauty of the drive. The big issue now is the variety of users on Lake Shore, Jeff Sriver, director of transportation planning and programming for the city’s Department of Transportation, told the Tribune.
“It’s not just a road or highway,” Sriver told the Tribune. “As many transit passengers take it as CTA rail lines, with 70,000 riders using the corridor on busses. It’s also the Lakefront Trail. Then, there’s all the park activity. It’s much more complex and interesting than your standard road project.”
Cost and funding for the project has not yet been considered with planners still in the early brainstorming stages of the project that is set to begin in 2019 at the earliest, according to state and local transportation officials.