Meetings for phase one of the North Lake Shore Drive improvement plan continued Wednesday, drawing residents from affected neighborhoods who expressed their support and concerns of the proposal offered by the city and state departments of transportation.
Diane Gottlieb, 71, who lives on East Walton Place, knows that Lake Shore Drive may have some problems, but she doesn’t see why it should be reconstructed.
“I had a meeting with Ald. [Brian] Hopkins (2nd) last year, and I didn’t like the ideas that were presented then,” Gottlieb said at the gathering at DePaul University’s Lincoln Park Student Center.
“Sure there are problems with this section [of Lake Shore Drive], but it’s a special road and it should maintain its beauty.”
The plan to “redefine the drive” would improve the road that stretches from Grand Avenue to Hollywood Avenue, which covers 11 neighborhoods and six wards, officials said.
Safety and mobility would be improved and infrastructure problems that lead to an average of three crashes per day would be addressed, according to the Illinois and Chicago transportation departments.
Phase one is expected to be completed around 2020.
Some parts of the road are about 80 years old and are in need of repair, representatives from the city and state said. Their joint study and eventual reconstruction would create a Lake Shore Drive that fits current needs, they said.
“We have concepts, which is what we want the public to give us input on,” said Kimberly Murphy, consultant studies unit head for the Illinois Department of Transportation. “We are looking at different treatments and at different areas along the drive to improve alignment, shrink the road or go with a Frontage Road concept, and public input [on the concepts] is paramount.”
Images clipped onto boards showed the concepts to smooth out an S-curve near Oak Street Beach, push Lake Shore Drive further east, and add park land between the inner and outer drives as well as more bike and pedestrian pathways.
“These are still the early stages of the project, and we’re defining what we want this project to be,” said Jeff Sriver, who is in charge of transportation planning and programming at the Chicago Department of Transportation. “We wanted to start with the biggest universe of ideas and whittle it down.”
After glimpsing the images presented Wednesday, Gold Coast resident Doug Saleeby, 62, concluded the plan provides a great solution to congestion on biking and pedestrian paths.
“I always felt it was a mistake to put a highway along the coast,” Saleeby said. “What this does is space it out some more. It’ll make getting to the beach much more pleasant.”