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Civic Planners Seek Ideas To Update North Lake Shore Drive

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Rendering of possible renovations to North Lake Shore Drive. (Credit: Thom Greene/Greene & Proppe Design, Inc.)

Rendering of possible renovations to North Lake Shore Drive. (Credit: Thom Greene/Greene & Proppe Design, Inc.)

John Cody. John Cody
John Cody is a veteran reporter for Newsradio 780.
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CHICAGO (CBS) – After more than 70 years, it’s time for a new North Lake Shore Drive, according to a local think tank that is trying to round up public input for the effort.

Metropolitan Planning Council transportation director Chrissy Mancini said city and state transportation officials will hold public hearings Aug. 6, 7, and 8 to see what ideas the public can offer to make the Lakefront roadway all it can be.

Planners are seeking suggestions for updating the lakefront between Grand and Hollywood avenues.

Most of North Lake Shore Drive was built as Great Depression era public works project, so the roadway has already exceeded its expected lifetime.

“North Lake Shore Drive is actually at the end of its useful life, so it’s due for a makeover,” she said. “South Lake Shore Drive was recently reconstructed. It’s now time for North Lake Shore Drive.”

South Lake Shore Drive – from 23rd Street to 67th Street – was rebuilt in the early 2000s, including most of the bridges that cross the roadway. The parks that line the southern lakefront also have been rebuilt in recent years.

Mancini said the planning effort for North Lake Shore Drive will include more than suggestions for new pavement, it will include ideas for sharing the green space east of the roadway up to the lake itself.

“Many people use North Lake Shore Drive on buses, and on bicycles, and walking; so it’s really about taking a holistic approach to redoing the Drive, it’s not just about improving the pavement,” she said.

Many Chicago residents use the Lakefront Trail to ride their bikes to and from work downtown, and many areas of the trail end up congested with cyclists, joggers, and pedestrians.

Possibilities for improving the lakefront including separating fast commuter bicycles from slow tourist bikes on the Lakefront Trail, separating pedestrians and runners from cyclists, and making the trail more bike friendly throughout the year.

“So if people do want to ride their bike in the winter, how can we make that more comfortable, more reliable, and easier for people to do so?” she said. “Divvy bike share was the most-used bike share, I think, in the world last Saturday, so we know that people want these options.”

It might include more east-west access points to the lake, or new landscaping, such as ponds or wetlands along Lake Shore Drive.

Mancini said this involves the future of the northern Lakefront for the next 50 to 100 years, so it’s important for residents to have their say, before works starts on a new version of North Lakeshore Drive.

Details on the public meetings and input ideas are listed online.

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