Eyes on the Street: Lakefront Trail Separation Is Finished Between 31st and 41st

Photo: Patrick L. Pyszka, city of Chicago
Photo: Patrick L. Pyszka, city of Chicago

This morning city and park district officials cut the ribbon on the first completed section of the Lakefront Trail separation project between 31st and 41st Street. This provides a preview of what trail separation will look like on the rest of the trail between 71st and Ardmore – where there’s sufficient space to create different paths for pedestrians and bicyclists. Separation along the entire lakefront is slated to be completed in 2018.

In December, the city announced a $12 million donation from hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffith for Lakefront Trail separation. However, the work on this stretch from 31st to 41st was a $1.8 million project that was previously funded by Chicago Park District capital funds. Currently construction is taking place from Fullerton to Ohio and 41st to 51st, with work scheduled for completion in late August.

4th Ward alderman Sophia King speaks at the ribbon cutting.
4th Ward alderman Sophia King speaks at the ribbon cutting. Photo: Melody Geraci, Active Transportation Alliance

“Opening the trail from 31st Street to 41st Street greatly improves access to Chicago’s lakefront for the thousands of Chicagoans and visitors that travel the path each day,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “This is an important step as we continue working to make the Lakefront Trail more accessible and more enjoyable for pedestrians and cyclists alike.”

In general the separation project will result in a 12-foot paved bike trail located closest to Lake Shore Drive. The pedestrian path will generally be 20 feet wide with 14 feet of asphalt and six feet of soft-surface running trail on either side. The installation of 70 new light poles between 31st and 41st and the restoration of the landscaping should be complete in the coming weeks.

Signs direct trail users to the appropriate paths. Photo: Patrick L. Pyszka
Signs direct trail users to the appropriate paths. Photo: Patrick L. Pyszka

In other south lakefront new, construction recently began on the 41st Street Bridge, which had previously been delayed due to Governor Bruce Rauner withholding state funding.

  • Dick Jones

    The new segment of the trail lacks lighting in most places. There is also a place just north of 41st street where the path splits – going to parking lot and to beach – but there is no wayfinding signage.

  • Chicagoan

    I rode this part of the Lakefront Trail on my way to Calumet Fisheries on Saturday, I thought it was great.

  • planetshwoop

    It’s deeply frustrating to me that the path is, as you note, “generally close to Lake Shore Drive”. On the far North end, near say Wilson, the path is a very close to the drive and very far from the lake. Yet there is oodles and oodles of parking right near the lakefront. I suppose $12M is not enough to relocate tons or parking lots, or maybe the lots are close to the lake so they don’t become parking for residents like points further south? Either way, it’s a disappointment that the vision for the path separation is always “let’s get closer to the Drive.”

  • Dubya P

    What Chicago needs to do is demolish the old post office and use all that old concrete to use as fill so as to widen the walking path in those really narrow areas like on that long stretch on the Northside of the Chicago River. So as to grow the city into the lake. And if they were to get a big Federal Grant they’d be wise to have a new elevated trackage for a New “L” line along the lake edge. Which raised above the Lake Shore Drive for safety reasons and to avoid some of those high wind lake waves. Right next that track could be the biking path. With a fence for safety of cyclist & pedestrians. As you know the cyclist want to fly up and down the walking/running path.
    Look at how Honolulu Area Rapid Transit is building their system. Single pillar concrete vs turn of the century metal girders. Thus, a streamlined look – something modern. And maybe someday when Chicago has a snow storm all those folks riding that “L” can look at all those cars stuck on Lake Shore Drive from the snow storm.

  • FG

    The signage is confusing (or was last time I rode) and I think, being on the south side, will be largely ignored. There are also places where the brush is too close for comfort, at least for me, to the path.

    Interestingly, the bridge started before the budget was resolved – did they have advance warning?

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