Radical proposal would transform Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive and create new lakefront park space

Over 70 new acres of public space would be created between Ohio Street and North Avenue.

February 10, 2017 |

Rendering courtesy of the Office of Brian Hopkins

Lake Shore Drive is one of the most famous streets in Chicago. With the skyline on one side and Lake Michigan on the other, it provides a nice snapshot of what the city has to offer. What it also provides, however, is traffic congestion and accidents.

A radical new proposal wants to not only rectify some of the issues associated with Lake Shore Drive, but also improve on some of the things that already make it such a popular area in Chicago.

According to Curbed Chicago, the proposal would straighten out Lake Shore Drive’s narrow and dangerous Oak Street S-bend and then bury it in what would become brand new public green space. 70 acres of brand new green space, in fact, that would provide new parkland, beaches, trails, and a breakwater island. These improvements would buffer the roadway from the crashing waves that can prove quite abusive in the winter months and also fix the Chicago Avenue bottleneck by removing traffic signals. New interchange ramps would also be added to improve traffic flow.

As is to be expected, these changes come at a cost, and quite a large cost at that. It is estimated the project would have a price tag as high as $500 million and require the cooperation of multiple locale, state, and federal entities to complete. If everything moves along smoothly, without any hiccups, the earliest this project would start is 2020, with a completion date many years later.

Even with the cost and time issues, the proposal is still seen as providing more good than harm to an area of the city that could use a makeover. 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins is one of the city’s biggest proponents of the plan and has spoken numerous times of its benefits to try and get it pushed through. As part of his efforts, he used renderings that were created in the summer of 2016 by VOA Associates, which has since become a part of Stantec. You can view some of those renderings below.

 

Rendering courtesy of the Office of Brian Hopkins.

 

Rendering courtesy of the Office of Brian Hopkins.

 

Rendering courtesy of the Office of Brian Hopkins.

 

Rendering courtesy of the Office of Brian Hopkins.

 

Rendering courtesy of the Office of Brian Hopkins.

 

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