CHICAGO (CBS) — A giant crack in the pedestrian underpass on Lake Shore Drive allows passers by to look up and see daylight and passing cars above. It’s one example of crumbling concrete and erosion.
Some might call it normal wear and tear on a major thoroughfare, but 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins said it isn’t normal.
“In some cases, with the storms we’ve had recently, the lake water makes it all the way across Lake Shore Drive and is showing up on the west side of Lake Shore Drive,” he said. “That’s never happened before in Chicago’s history, so the lake is actually eroding away Lake Shore Drive and its undergrid right now.”
He said the damage and issues seen in the last few months and years are really signs of something bigger; especially with rising water levels and proof from testing the water levels are affecting areas in ways we can’t see.
“We’ve seen what’s happened recently, chunks of concrete falling off the Grand Avenue Bridge,” Hopkins said. “We know the lake water is infiltrating farther and farther.”
Hopkins put funding in his budget to repair some of the damage.
“The work includes sealing a crack in the expansion joint of the roadway as well as repairs to the retaining wall, the steps and the decorative fencing,” a statement from the Chicago Department of Transportation said.
“We’re doing this on a piece meal basis to just try to keep things together, but this Band-aid approach is not a long term approach,” said Hopkins. “We’re hoping that Governor Pritzker will put some funding in the capital bill to rebuild Lake Shore Drive.”
The alderman said we can’t afford the alternative.
“The alternative is to let Lake Shore Drive eventually erode away into the lake, and we can’t have that,” Hopkins said.
CBS 2 asked Pritzker’s office about possible funding to fix Lake Shore Drive in the capital plan. His office responded with a statement calling crumbling infrastructure across the state is something the governor has plans to restore.
“The governor believes the state has neglected investment in restoring our infrastructure for far too long. As a result of working group sessions with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle from both chambers of the General Assembly, the administration has shared with lawmakers a preliminary capital plan that would put 540,000 Illinoisans back to work and finally fix our crumbling infrastructure. The governor encourages local lawmakers to work with their state representatives to support the final capital plan, and the administration looks forward to continuing to engaging in productive conversations to ensure the state can upgrade our roads, bridges and schools.”
CDOT spokespeople say CDOT is working to get planned repairs finished ahead of the summer season, but repairs have been delayed a bit due to all the recent wet weather.
“CDOT In-house forces are currently working on repairs to the underpass at Chicago and LSD at the request of Alderman Hopkins. The work includes sealing a crack in the expansion joint of the roadway as well as repairs to the retaining wall, the steps and the decorative fencing. We are working to get these repairs done as soon as possible ahead of the summer season, however the recent wet weather has hampered the ongoing effort.”