Storms force closure of Howard, Rogers beaches

Plans had been to preserve access to the beaches, but the storm Jan. 11 changed that, said Ald. Maria Hadden in a recent Facebook post.

SHARE Storms force closure of Howard, Rogers beaches
Howard Beach was closed to the public after suffering erosion due to powerful storms in the Chicago area last week, Thursday afternoon, Jan. 16, 2020. Boulders were dumped on the beach as a buffer against on-going erosion.

Howard Beach was closed to the public after suffering erosion due to powerful storms in the Chicago area last week.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Rogers Park residents will have two fewer options for lakefront recreation after city officials decided to close Howard and Rogers beaches following the powerful storms last week.

Ald. Maria Hadden (49th), whose ward includes the beaches, said in a recent Facebook post the Chicago Department of Transportation has decided to dump boulders there as a buffer against ongoing erosion.

“They evaluated the whole after the storm and in order to protect the public land as much as possible, it is necessary to install additional riprap where we experienced erosion,” Hadden wrote.

The storm caused flooding, tore up asphalt near the Ohio Street Beach and dislodged several huge concrete blocks along Howard Beach.

Late last year, crews began hauling in boulders to shore up the Rogers Park beaches, including Juneway Beach. At the time, the plan had been to leave some access to Howard and Rogers beaches.

But the Saturday storm changed that. Hadden posted a statement from CDOT on her Facebook page:

During the January 11, 2020 storm the new Juneway Beach rip rap revetment performed well, however, at Rogers and Howard Beaches where we tried to preserve some small beach areas as requested by the community, we observed signs of erosion due to the intensity of the storm. We are in the process of adding the eroded areas to the current scope and have them completed with additional rip rap and armor stone by the middle of February.

A spokesperson for CDOT said in an email statement Thursday night the agency “is working diligently along with the Park District and the US Army Corps of Engineers to assess the impacts of this storm and determine how the existing shoreline protection plans need to be adjusted.”

While lake levels tend to fluctuate naturally with the seasons, above-normal precipitation since spring 2018 has pushed the lake height to just inches shy of the 1986 record, according to the National Weather Service. Officials began keeping records in 1903. All that water, coupled with two powerful storms in October and earlier this month, have accelerated the beachfront erosion.

Juneway Beach was closed to the public and boulders were dumped as a buffer against on-going erosion, Thursday afternoon, Jan. 16, 2020.

Juneway Beach was closed to the public and boulders were dumped as a buffer against on-going erosion, Thursday afternoon, Jan. 16, 2020.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Rogers Beach was fenced off and closed to the public after suffering erosion due to powerful storms in the Chicago area last week, Thursday afternoon, Jan. 16, 2020.

Rogers Beach was fenced off and closed to the public after suffering erosion due to powerful storms in the Chicago area last week, Thursday afternoon, Jan. 16, 2020.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Howard Beach was closed to the public after suffering erosion due to powerful storms in the Chicago area last week, Thursday afternoon, Jan. 16, 2020. Boulders were dumped on the beach as a buffer against on-going erosion.

Howard Beach was closed to the public after suffering erosion due to powerful storms in the Chicago area last week, Thursday afternoon, Jan. 16, 2020. Boulders were dumped on the beach as a buffer against on-going erosion.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

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