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Eyes on the Street: Navy Pier Flyover nears completion

The Lakefront Trail’s bridge across the Chicago River is now open and about twice as wide as before. Photo: Michelle Stenzel

It's been more than seven years since the groundbreaking of the Lakefront Trail's Navy Pier Flyover, so at this point the project has taken more than twice as long as the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, but the end is in sight. In mid-March the Navy Pier Flyover reached a new milestone, as the city removed the temporary protected bicycle and pedestrian path that occupied a northbound lane of Lower Lake Shore Drive, after bike and foot traffic had been relocated to the newly widened section of the trail cantilevered off the driver's Chicago River bridge. Work on the trail where it tunnels through the bridge houses on the east side of the bridge was expected to be complete this month, weather permitting.

The project now provides a continuous segment of the Lakefront Trail stretching for about half a mile from Jane Addams Park and Ohio Street Beach at the north end to the south side of the Chicago River. When work on the bridge houses is finished, the trail on the flyover will be at least 16 feet wide for its full length. Until then, the trail narrows to about eight feet at the bridge houses. Courtney Cobbs recently stopped by to check out the current situation on the flyover. - John Greenfield

Last week I had the opportunity to check out the new Navy Pier Flyover. I haven’t been using the Lakefront Trail much lately. This was probably my first ride on the trail this year. I rode the trail mid-day on a Tuesday. I saw a decent number of people on the trail on my trip downtown from Rogers Park, but there weren't many people on the flyover when I arrived.

All in all the flyover is a nice piece of infrastructure, but I was a bit confused as to how one would use it to access Navy Pier. Once I walked my bike I was able to spot some wayfinding signs that are a bit tucked away in a corner. Presumably that's so that no one will run into them.

Heading North on the Flyover. You can see a wayfinding sign to the right. Photo: Courtney Cobbs
Heading North on the Flyover. You can see a wayfinding sign to the right.
Photo: Courtney Cobbs
Heading North on the Flyover. You can see a wayfinding sign to the right. Photo: Courtney Cobbs
Portion of the trail that leads you to Navy Pier.
An access ramp that takes you to Navy Pier.
Portion of the trail that leads you to Navy Pier.

There’s also a need for more signs or paint differentiating the cycling lanes from the pedestrian lanes.

Navy Pier flyover usage was light this day and most trail users were following the markings differentiating cycling from walking.Photo: Courtney Cobbs
Navy Pier flyover use was light this day and most trail users were following the markings differentiating cycling from walking.
Photo: Courtney Cobbs
Navy Pier flyover usage was light this day and most trail users were following the markings differentiating cycling from walking. Photo: Courtney Cobbs

I am a little worried about conflicts occurring near the bridge houses before the project is completed. As you can see in this photo from January, until the northbound path through the bridge house opens, there are bottlenecks. Given the tragic death of Mark Goodman last summer after he collided with another bike rider on the path south of Belmont Avenue, there's reason to be concerned.

Lakefront Trail passing through the Bridge house. Photo: CDOT
Lakefront Trail passing through the Bridge house. Photo: CDOT
Lakefront Trail passing through the Bridge house. Photo: CDOT

To end on a more positive note, I am a huge fan of the view of the lake as you ride northbound on the flyover, descending towards Ohio Street.

Looking North on the Flyover. Photo: Courtney Cobbs
Looking North on the flyover towards the lake. Photo: Courtney Cobbs
Looking North on the Flyover. Photo: Courtney Cobbs

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