Public, officials to meet Tuesday on North Lake Shore Drive overhaul
BY ROSALIND ROSSI Transportation Reporter July 7, 2014 7:47PM
The intersection and off ramp of Lake Shore Drive and Hollywood Avenue at the very north end of Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. | Al Podgorski / Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 8, 2014 2:15AM
Ninety-five percent of weekday drivers headed out of the city on North Lake Shore Drive were clocked as speeding — one of many problems officials hope to gather solutions to at a public meeting Tuesday.
Other weak spots to be tackled in a joint city-state “Redefine the Drive” project include reducing crashes on the drive from Hollywood to Grand, improving safety for bicyclists and pedestrians and boosting transit ridership to meet a projected growing demand.
All that and more is expected to be outlined and discussed Tuesday at an open house hosted by Illinois and Chicago Department of Transportation officials from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Drake Hotel, Gold Coast Ballroom, 140 E. Walton Place.
Jeffrey Sriver, the Chicago Department of Transportation point man on the project, noted that officials have already solicited public input on North Lake Shore Drive’s problem spots. Now, Sriver said, “we are advancing to potential solutions.’’
City and state officials contend the Drive’s bridges and lower pavement areas are nearly 80 years old and have exceeded their expected service lives by 30 or more years. A rebuild of North Lake Shore Drive, rather than a resurfacing, has been recommended.
A coalition of 15 civic groups has urged officials to think boldly, and take advantage of the plans to rebuild the drive to create a plan that will last another 50 years. They are urging that North Lake Shore Drive be returned to the “boulevard in a park” concept envisioned by city planner Daniel Burnham in 1909.
Their ideas include lowering the speed limit to 35 mph, creating bus-only or high-speed rail lanes, separating high-speed cyclists from more leisurely bikers or walkers and creating more park space.
A “Draft Purpose and Need Statement” — a study examining problem areas on a 7-mile stretch of North Lake Shore Drive — posted recently by CDOT and the Illinois Department of Transportation indicates 95 percent of northbound North Lake Shore Drive vehicles were clocked as speeding during a 48-hour weekday period.
Southbound, heading into the city, another 78 percent were speeding, the report said.