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City breaks ground on separate bike lanes on South Side

A $12 million project will separate bicycling and walking paths between 31st and 40th streets. | Sun-Times files

A long-awaited project to divide a portion of the South Side lakefront trail into separate — and safer — lanes for cyclists and pedestrians got an official kickoff Sunday.

The plan calls for a stretch between 31st and 40th streets to be completed by year’s end at a cost of $1.8 million. It will be paid for from the Chicago Park District’s capital fund.

“This is an important step in making the Lakefront Trail safer, more accessible and more enjoyable for the thousands of Chicagoans and visitors that travel the path each day,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. A groundbreaking was held Sunday.

The city plans to eventually extend the separate lanes south to 51st Street. That phase is still under design.

The North Side, too, will get new separate lanes between between Fullerton and Ohio. Construction is slated to begin in the fall of next year.

The lakefront trail is one of the busiest in the country. It is estimated that more than 100,000 people per day use the trail during summer weekends.

The commuter trail, made of asphalt, will measure 12 feet wide and will be located closest to Lake Shore Drive. The pedestrian trail will measure 20 feet wide, with 14 feet of asphalt and 3 feet of soft surface mix on each side.