Today’s Headlines for Wednesday, May 2

  • More DoBi Launch Coverage (PatchNBC, Curbed, WTTW, Sun-Times, Next City)
  • Pier Flyover Delayed Again, ATA Says Use Lower LSD Lane for Bikeway (Great Idea!) (WBEZ)
  • Metra Breaks Ground on New Railcar Refurbishment Shop (Herald)
  • Hit-and-Run Drunk Driver Who Struck 4 Cars, Critically Injuring Man, Gets 7 Years (Tribune)
  • 3 CTA Workers Hurt by “Arc Blast” From Transformer in the Loop (Tribune)
  • Parts of LSD Will Be Closed Overnight for 41st St. Bike/Ped Bridge Work (CBS)
  • CTA Expected to Approve Chicago Market Co-op as Wilson Tenant Next Week (Sun-Times)
  • Daily Southtown Writer: I’m Guilty of Distracted Driving but I Will Keep Trying to Stop

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Tooscrapps

    The flyover is truly an embarrassment at this point and what is the reason the alternative is delayed? Pushing it to “very late this year” effectively is a 1-year delay.

  • CDOT’s pier flyover excuses are a load of crap. It’s either they didn’t do the due-diligence to evaluate the structural integrity of the bridge they were connecting to or they did sufficient research but they botched the design. If the city’s capital improvement projects were managed by people who actually knew what they were doing, they’d be suing the heck out of their engineer/architect for a clear standard-of-care failure.

    But, yes, using the lower drive for a temporary bike line is a very good idea!

  • Jeremy

    What are the odds the flyover is used as a campaign issue in the upcoming mayoral election? Is it a visual reminder of Rahm talking big, but failing to deliver?

  • BlueFairlane

    If you didn’t see this flyover thing coming from a mile away and four years out, then you just haven’t been paying attention to how Chicago works.

  • Carter O’Brien

    This is an epic screw up re: the execution. The initial delays were explained as ones related to the budgeting cycles, which although less than ideal, at least were plausible. However, this latest delay just sounds like rank incompetence. How could this not have been caught YEARS earlier?

    I still think that when it’s said and done the flyover is going to be a great piece of new transportation infrastructure. Navy Pier (inexplicably) draws upwards of 8 million visitors annually,s o there are just way too many people who are competing to move through the bottlenecks of lower LSD and Grand/Illinois. I just hope I’ll still be alive to enjoy it.

  • Cameron Puetz

    Since the flyover started as Daley talking big but failing to deliver I’m not sure how much of a campaign issue it will be.

  • Jeremy

    Article from Curbed dated 3/18/14: “Navy Pier Flyover Recreation Trail To Begin Construction Soon”.

    Emanuel was first elected in 2011.

  • planetshwoop

    It’s not inexplicable. It’s a neat destination for dining and stuff, but the real attraction is the gobs and gobs of parking. I have plenty of co-workers who like it and you can park right there. The little parking availability counter always irritates the cuss out of me when I bike past it on a tiny, miserable sidewalk.

    This isn’t meant as a snotty aside about suburbanites. Navy Pier is pretty unique in the Midwest; I think the parking is the honey that makes it stick.

  • Cameron Puetz

    Back in 2009, construction was expected to begin within a year according to the Daley administration. That was after an earlier construction plan fell apart when the Spire was cancelled. This project has a long history of not getting built.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    I was biking on the trail just south of the pier recently and saw an LED sign that something like “NAVY PIER: 1,200 PARKING SPOTS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE.” Mind blown.

  • planetshwoop

    Yup, my highest number is like 1400. The website says they have 1500 spaces.

  • Can we get some kind of grade separation and/or inflexible barricade between the bike lane and the auto lane, though? People are already complaining loudly about about being half of an auto lane’s width of turf and a curb away from oncoming LSD traffic with the new LFT bike path in other locations, as though the danger never occurred to anyone during any of the planning phases. (And for all I know, it really didn’t.) Now we are rallying for the opportunity to ride along Lower Freaking Lake Shore Drive with nothing but green paint and plastic bollards for protection?

  • Chicagoan

    Are they all in that garage?

  • planetshwoop

    There are 2 garages per the site.

  • Cameron Puetz

    It’s sort of unique in the Midwest, but Navy Pier isn’t that unique. Every destination city has that place. New York has Times Square, San Francisco has Fisherman’s Warf, Boston has Faneuil Hall, Seattle has Pike Place Market, we have Navy Pier.

  • Carter O’Brien

    The parking is astronomically expensive and as much a liability as a carrot, see John’s note below, I routinely see this garage advertising similar availability.

    But when I say inexplicable, I don’t mean it’s inexplicable that it’s popular, just the views alone are worthy of a visit. I mean that it’s inexplicable that this is the most popular attraction not just in Chicago, but in the entire state of Illinois.

    For perspective, the entire Museum Campus pulls in around 8 million visitors (Navy Pier is actually over 9m apparently). Six Flags Great America doesn’t even pull in 4m (and they have parking to beat the band).

  • Cameron Puetz

    Another thing to remember in the parking discussion is that Navy Pier is a regional destination. Regional transportation in the US is basically terrible. For people living outside of major metro areas, driving is often the only way to leave their town. Tourists visiting from neighboring states are going to drive, there’s no other practical way for them to get here. Once here they’re going to keep driving. Their car is already here and they either have to pay to park it at the hotel, or pay to park it where they’re spending the day. Also they’ve probably rarely, if ever, ridden public transit are a likely somewhat intimidated by it. I’ve never understood why Navy Pier beats out attractions like the Museum Campus, but I can understand why the tourists going there keep driving.

  • Carter O’Brien

    At the end of the day, what’s important regarding the Flyover is that neither Navy Pier and its throngs of driving tourists nor the Lakefront Trail and its throngs of beach enjoying pedestrians and cycling commuters are going anywhere, any time soon. And as far as the driving goes, it’s not just Navy Pier traffic, it’s cars accessing Lake Shore Drive from the surrounding area as well.

    This price tag and construction schedule are ridiculous, but there’s not really any other option as far as addressing this pain point. I’ve tried to help bewildered tourists navigate downtown buses more times than I can remember, and even if they increased bus service I agree that tourists would be unlikely to switch to that mode in substantial numbers.

  • Scroller

    “I mean that it’s inexplicable that this is the most popular attraction
    not just in Chicago, but in the entire state of Illinois.”

    It’d be more inexplicable if the number one tourist attraction in Illinois wasn’t in Chicago. The city alone has 20% of the state population, Cook County is close half and the whole region has almost 75% of the whole state’s population. We have one of the world’s busiest airports and almost every Amtrak route passes through the city.

    It’d be inexplicable if millions of people from Chicago and the suburbs, not to mention out-of-staters schleped down to Springfield or to Starve Rock or even Great America each year.

  • Carter O’Brien

    Fair enough regarding Chicago’s outsized presence, but 3.5m+ visitors at Great America is nothing to sneeze at! I think what I find so baffling about Navy Pier is that except for save the Ferris Wheel, I see nothing at Navy Pier that can’t be found (better, and for less money) elsewhere in Chicago. Dining? Shopping? Come on now. O’Hare might be better at this point. There’s a reason Chicagoans scorn this place, it seems to be a triumph of marketing more than anything.

  • rduke

    TBH I don’t really give a toss about the flyover.

    What I do care about is the total lack of a proper alternative. Taking a lane and giving it to bikes on the congested part of this area should have been done 4 years ago when the project was announced.

    What’s the damn holdup?

  • Jeremy

    Shakespeare Theater and IMAX contribute a decent number of visitors. A lot of people get counted more than once. If two people go to dinner then go to a movie, that is probably considered four visitors.

  • You must understand that everyone and their entire extended family goes to Navy Pier (or tries to) for the fireworks on New Year’s Eve and 4th of July. IIRC, the parking garage routinely sells out early in the day on both of those two days. But the other 363 days per year, you are absolutely right, there’s nothing special about it.

  • CIAC

    During the summer on the weekends Navy Pier routinely runs out of parking. At least that was true as of a few years ago (maybe they’ve added spaces as part of their remodel). Having 1,500 parking spaces is not unreasonable.

  • Carter O’Brien

    I’ve always wondered how they keep those numbers honest… remember the 10 million Cubs fans in Grant Park claim?

  • Carter O’Brien

    I don’t think the issue is the parking being unreasonable per se, but the unintended consequence is that all of that revenue is budgeted for every year, and thus presents a major hurdle as regards trying to get Navy Pier better served by public transportation.

  • Carter O’Brien

    That has always been the rub with wanting a bike lane there. I’ve ridden that stretch hundreds, if not thousands of times and there’s no way in hell that is an appropriate place for just a striped bike lane.

  • FlamingoFresh

    Well it’s the current Mayor (Rahm) to see these projects through. If you’re letting him off the hook because it’s supposed to be on Daley then that’s foolish. Everyone in a government position needs to do their best in picking up where the previous left off and see everything through, whether it’s continuing the project or putting an end to it. This is unacceptable and there should be no sympathy for incompetence.

  • FlamingoFresh

    When are we going to start holding people accountable for their lack competence. If it’s happening on the taxpayer’s dollar, we should have more say on how things like this should be handled. Instead these people will ultimately end up just raking in more our money for profit and keep their jobs.

    The inability for America to construct needed infrastructure at a reasonable cost compared to the rest of the world will prevent us from moving forward (literally) in the future.

  • rohmen

    Good article. I’d imagine the U.S. issue of treating these sort of projects as economic booster shots for a City’s economy/employment numbers hurts us the most on some of the cost differences.

    Whenever Chicago (or any major city) announces a major transportation project, you always here the number of jobs it will create as one of the top selling point.

    There’s a big political incentive to touting that 150 people making Union wages will be employed on the project, when in reality the project could get by with 100. It’s the fox guarding the hen house dilemma—everyone paying attention has something to gain by over-staffing.

  • rohmen

    I’ve been to Navy Pier more than I want to admit, and it’s never been for 4th of July of NYE. During the summer, the lost gets decently full on most weekends, though the shear volume of availability is ridiculous. For better or worse, the Pier already struggles to fully utilize its space, so I doubt it’ll change anytime soon.

    Probably like many locals, what draws me there is the Children’s Museum. That’s pretty special about it. In addition, given the transportation issues of getting easily with two young kids, mixed with the fact that the Museum gives you a parking membership option for pretty cheap, I have to admit it’s the rare place in Chicago I drive to basically 99% of the time. I’m okay with that, but I’d readily support something like BRT if it could work to get people there better from areas like the loop.

  • rohmen

    I live in Oak Park, which is probably 10 to 12 miles from the Pier, and it would take me almost 1.5 to 2 hours to get there by public transportation (and maybe 30 minutes by car on the weekend). Honestly, when I lived in Wicker Park, it wouldn’t have been much better.

    Sure, I’ll take public transportation on principle alone, but it’s hard to stand on principle when it can take 3x as long and I have young/fussy kids in tow with me.

  • Anne A

    Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

  • Or even a “protected” lane a la Dearborn. The posts would be smashed to bits within days.