To thrive, a major city must keep re-imagining all of its streetscapes and neighborhoods.
Chicago succeeded on that score last week as state and local officials unveiled their latest redevelopment plans for Lake Shore Drive from Grand Avenue north to Hollywood Avenue.
We don’t know where the money will come from, or even how much it would cost overall. But we hope some of the beguiling notions laid out in the plans inspire city leaders sufficiently to lift at least some of these ideas off of the drawing boards and move them to reality.
Among the concepts are straightening the hazardous S-curve near Oak Street Beach a bit, adding park land and installing more bike and pedestrian pathways. The goal is to speed traffic, ease pedestrian and cycling congestion and minimize flooding on wavy days. Construction won’t begin until 2019 at the earliest.
Ideas that fell by the wayside in the planning process include a light rail line and sending the Drive underground through a tunnel below Oak Street Beach.
Chicago is struggling with a host of financial challenges, and many areas of the city need improvement. But that doesn’t mean planners shouldn’t be thinking big about Lake Shore Drive’s future, as they have done with these plans, which come after years of public input.
The Drive long has been considered one of the most scenic stretches of urban roadway in America. It’s an accomplishment the city needs to build on.