Dominick’s preview: Some argue bike lane layout for new Lincoln Yards bridge is sub-par

Rendering of the new Dominick Street bridge with the two-way bike lane.
Rendering of the new Dominick Street bridge with the two-way bike lane.

Update Thursday 10/15/20, 11:45 PM: Sterling Bay spokesperson Julie Goudie confirmed that the two-way bike lane will be on the east side of the bridge, will be curb-protected, and will have ramps to connect with the riverwalks on both sides of the Chicago River, and on to The 606. The article has been updated accordingly.

There’s been a huge backlash to the Lincoln Yards luxury megadevelopment plan in Lincoln Park, a project that’s being subsidized with $1.3 billion in tax-increment funding, and which opponents argue will drive up local housing prices. But one possible upside is new sustainable transportation amenities, including proposals for new bridges over the Chicago River, a new Metra station, and water taxi stops, as well as a potential new dedicated busway.

There was some good news on that front yesterday, when developer Sterling Bay released plans to extend the Bloomingdale Trail, aka The 606, east from Bucktown to the new enclave, as well as to lengthen Dominick Street — a diagonal roadway that currently hugs the east bank of the Chicago River roughly between Ashland and Southport avenues — almost another mile southeast to connect with Throop Street and south on to North Avenue. As reported by Block Club Chicago’s Hannah Alani, the developer said work on these infrastructure projects will begin next year.

Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 3.45.28 PM
Existing Dominick Street (green), the road extension (red), the new bridge (purple), the existing Bloomingdale Trail (pink), the Bloomingdale Trail extension, and new planned riverwalk (orange.) The Bloomingdale extension will go under the Kennedy Expressway. Image: John Greenfield via Google Maps
Details of the infrastructure plan for Lincoln Yards.
Details of the infrastructure plan for Lincoln Yards.

According to Sterling Bay spokesperson Julie Goudie, the new Dominick Street Bridge over the Chicago River will be 80 feet wide, including 10-foot sidewalks on either side, one 12-foot travel lane in each direction, and a single 10-foot two-way bike lane on the east side of the bridge, protected with a concrete curb. (It’s not clear what the remaining 26 feet of bridge width will be used for — we’re double checking on this.) The layout will be similar to the popular Dearborn Street two-way protected lane downtown. The bridge will fly over new riverwalk segments on both sides of the waterway, which will link up to the new Bloomingdale stretch.

The new bridge will fly over the new riverwalk segments, presumably with ramps connecting the riverwalk to the bridge.
The new bridge will fly over the new riverwalk segments, presumably with ramps connecting the riverwalk to the bridge.

The projects are budgeted at a total of $35 million. The work projected to start in the middle of next year and last through mid-2023.

In general these new amenities appear to be a major win for people who bike, but not everyone is thrilled about the bridge plan yet, including transportation advocate Michelle Stenzel, who formerly ran the group Bike Walk Lincoln Park.

Stenzel added that the layout “makes turning on and off safely more complicated.”

And some folks who bike simply dislike two-way protected bike lanes in general, such as the Twitter user who responded to Stenzel, “Single two-way bike lanes are bad news.” He cited the popular concrete-protected bike lane on Chicago Avenue in Evanston as a worst-practice. For what it’s worth, Streetsblog Chicago assistant editor Courtney Cobbs loves that Evanston bikeway, so obviously not everyone agrees on what makes for a good cycling route.

Protected bike lane on Chicago Avenue in Evanston. Image: Courtney Cobbs

Goudie confirmed that there will be ramps connecting the new riverwalks to the Dominick Street bridge, so hopefully there will be a fairly seamless transition from the Bloomingdale to the riverwalk on the north bank, to the bridge bikeway, to the riverwalk on the south bank. “The dual-lane bike path will stay on the east side of Dominick and extend on both the north and south side of the river,” she added, although she didn’t respond to a question about how many blocks north and south of the bridge the two-way protected bike lane will extend.

Read the Block Club article here.


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