“Everything’s On The Table” For North Lake Shore Drive, So Share Your Ideas

North Lake Shore Drive public meeting #2
The open house was held at the historic Drake Hotel. Photo by Steven Vance.

Last week, city and state planners opened a call to the public to suggest potential elements for the North Lake Shore Drive reconstruction study, which they’re call “Redefine the Drive.” Almost a year ago, the Illinois and Chicago Departments of Transportation hosted a series of public meetings to gauge public support and solicit volunteers to join task forces that would guide the study.

Planners at this second meeting, which was held at the Drake Hotel and within walking distance of thousands of Drive residents, hoped to introduce attendees to the project’s latest purpose and needs statement (essentially a mission statement for the project), while also asking Chicagoans to pipe up with their own ideas and solutions for the corridor.

Jeff Sriver, a project manager at the Chicago Department of Transportation, described the meeting as the beginning of the “solution generation stage.” Its purpose was to “get input on solutions, whether they’re corridor wide, or at specific locations.” Afterwards, he said, they’ll classify the solutions, and compare them to the stated problems to see if each potential solution addresses an identified problem.

As for specific alternatives, Jeff said simply that “everything’s on the table from now on.” From here on out, future task force meetings will discuss the solutions gathered in this phase. Sriver said that it’ll be their job to “say what stays on the table, before the design team may try to take it off the table.”

Residents at the meeting suggested numerous alternatives, some grandiose and some more workaday, ranging from double-decking the roadway for more car capacity to constructing a separate cycletrack strictly for speedy bicycle commuters. Other ideas that have been tossed around include transforming NLSD into a multiway boulevard, creating dedicated transit lanes, and burying and straightening out the Oak Street Curve.

North Lake Shore Drive public meeting #2
Attendees were encouraged to share their ideas for the lakefront through drawings or text. Photo by Steven Vance.

All of these ideas vary in practicality, cost, and usefulness, and IDOT has promised to review all of them. That said, some will be swiftly eliminated after a Task Force consultation, in an effort to speed up the process.

The Active Transportation Alliance also weighed in on the meeting with a statement, saying that “today’s Open House provided opportunity for Chicagoans to voice their support for a bold vision for the reconstruction of North Lake Shore Drive.” Currently, the group’s top priorities include the separation of transit from automobile traffic, adding a separate higher-speed bike path to improve safety and convenience, and more lakefront access points, with redesigned roadway connections that provide a more seamless park experience.

Active Trans is also urging the city and Park District to make improvements now, such as installing “pavement markings to the trail, to separate bicyclists from pedestrians, and designating a separate trail in the most congested areas, such as between Oak Street Beach and Fullerton.”

The NLSD study team is still looking for project feedback and ideas. Those who came to the meeting were invited to draw their ideas on paper maps, or to suggest new road and trail cross sections. Those who didn’t get a chance to attend can download and print PDF files from the Public Meetings page, and then send them in by August 1, either by mail or by emailing photos or scans of the maps. Note that each map covers a different section of the Drive’s corridor.

NLSD website
Everyone’s invited to share their ideas at a crowdsourced ideas website.

Planners have also created an online mapping application where you can leave your feedback, and also view what others have said about the corridor. To use it, click anywhere on the map fill out the form in the popup, and your input will be reviewed by IDOT and CDOT.

The more IDOT is made aware of the real issues facing NLSD, the better the outcome will be — for 70,000 daily bus riders, 31,000 daily Lakefront Trail users, and all 406,842 North Siders — once shovels hit the ground.

  • Annie F. Adams

    Thanks for posting this! Inner LSD is part of the study area. These 4 lanes (2 for non-LAZ parking) have at max. 11k autos/buses a day. This would be a great place for Light Rail & Bike HYW for Chicago’s Commuter Cyclists! The Bike HYW would have 6 lanes total = “chat lane” for 2-up slow riders + 1 single lane for passing = 3 bike lanes in each direction with Light Rail down the middle. The Bike HWY & Light Rail MUST have continuous prioritized movement movement like LSD – or else bike commuters will continue to use lakefront recreation trail. Design in few if any traffic lights, signs and mixed-use intersections. Inner LSD would be great for both bike & rail commuters, as it would be closer than the middle of LSD and out of extreme un-bikeable lakefront wind. In addition on day 1 there would be more than 11k people using this route!
    http://www.npr.org/2012/09/01/160386904/in-bike-friendly-copenhagen-highways-for-cyclists

  • Guest

    Photo for inspiration!

  • Having a serious, protected bike lane on Inner LSD would be really useful for commuting cyclists who need to “get on or off” in between places where it’s easy to get from the LFP to the rest of the city.

  • Where was that photo taken?

  • Annie F. Adams
  • R.A. Stewart

    “The more IDOT is made aware of the real issues facing NLSD, the better the outcome will be …”

    I certainly hope this is true, and I will carve out some time to give the statement a closer reading and weigh in.

    I just hope this isn’t just another Chicago-style done deal where, in fact, “everything’s *under* the table.”

  • Pete

    Streetsblog proposal for LSD: 1 lane for bus BRT, 2 lanes for bikes, and 1 little lane for car traffic with a 30 MPH limit which will be largely irrelevant as traffic will rarely get above 10 MPH with all the congestion. But there will be speed cameras just in case someone gets enough of a break in traffic to exceed 30. Oh, and let’s add some more traffic lights too (with red light cameras).

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