What’s Going on With Lakefront Trail Separation?
I’ve heard a lot of grumbling about the Lakefront Trail separation project lately. Some people are annoyed that at Montrose both cyclists and pedestrians are now detoured a block east to an underpass to facilitate driving to the beach, instead of trail users being able to make a direct street crossing. Others are upset that sections between Montrose and Fullerton have been torn up by construction for a few weeks now. One bike advocate who lives in Lakeview even told me he’s moving out of his apartment because he’s fed up with not being able to use the trail as a commuting route.
While most of the project-related irritations are temporary, let’s keep in mind that by separating pedestrians and cyclists and/or widening the trail, the initiative will generally make the facility a safer, more relaxing place to stroll, jog, skate, and pedal in the future. For those of you who are getting impatient with the construction, which is supposed to be completely finished by the end of the year, here’s a progress report.
Last week the city announced the start of trail separation work from 31st to Roosevelt; the work is slated for completion in late fall. Work on this segment began at the Museum Campus and is moving south along Burnham Harbor. The northernmost section basically involves making and signs to shepherd people on foot and bikes onto separate existing routes, with cyclists remaining on the trail and pedestrians using a waterfront promenade. South of McCormick Place, workers will be tearing up the trail to make room for marking separate pedestrian and bike lanes, so the path will be closed during construction.
Separation between 71st and 55th was supposed to start in mid-September and finish by the end of the fall. This will largely involve widening or adding a side path to the existing trail, so this segment will also be impassible while the work is going on.
Work on widening the stretch between Oak and North began in the spring and is scheduled for completion next month. A concrete promenade for pedestrians has already been built on the beach side of the Oak Street underpass. During construction, sections of the trail have been reduced to an eight-foot-wide path shared by pedestrians and cyclists.
The segment between Fullerton and Montrose has been under construction since August and supposed to be finished by late fall. The path is generally being widened here and/or having a new side path built, although at Belmont Harbor pedestrians are simply being directed to an existing waterfront promenade. Here’s a map of the recommended detours while the trail is closed for construction.
While it’s understandable that many of us are frustrated by not being able to use our accustomed commuting or recreational routes, patience is the watchword. Next summer all the excavation and paving should be a mere memory, and cruising the lakefront will be a much more chill experience than it was under the path’s previously congested state.
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