State and city transportation groups are seeking suggestions for revamping the northern stretch of Chicago’s iconic Lake Shore Drive (LSD) to make it safer and help return it to its roots as a scenic lakefront thoroughfare. Fifteen civic groups comprising the Our Lakefront Coalition have already proposed a plan called “Our Lakefront” to do just that.
The plan aims not only to return the drive to some of its original glory, but reduce the number of car accidents and other injuries. These involve not just vehicular accidents, which average three a day, but those involving pedestrians, runners, and bicyclists (both recreational cyclists and high-speed commuters). “Our Lakefront” would help everyone who uses North LSD co-exist without injury. It would reduce the speed limit from Grand Avenue to Hollywood from 40 to 35 mph, and create separate lanes for express buses, high-speed rail, and high-speed bicyclists.
Although South LSD was rebuilt about a decade ago, the seven-mile stretch at the northern end, which includes more than twenty bridges and viaducts, is more than fifty years old, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). Officials acknowledge that some rebuilding may be in order.
The high-rise condominiums along the lakefront that are home to thousands of Chicagoans have increased the volume of traffic significantly since the drive was first envisioned in 1909 by city planner Daniel Burnham. IDOT officials agree that a solution is needed make the stretch of road safer. The department estimates that hundreds of thousands of people (locals and tourists alike) use it every day in some fashion.
Cost is a large factor. IDOT estimates that it will take hundreds of millions of dollars to make the renovations. Planners anticipate using federal and local grants. They say the earliest construction would begin is 2019. However, Our Lakefront Coalition’s goal is to ensure that with the investment in resources, and the disruption of the construction, the results meet the needs of everyone who uses the drive.
Local personal injury attorneys will no doubt support changes to make LSD safer. In the meantime, motorists, bicyclists, and those on foot need to look out for each other. Anyone who has been injured should consult an attorney to ensure that the person at fault is held responsible for any injuries, damages, and/or pain and suffering caused by their actions.
The Chicago Sun-Times, “Lake Shore Drive proposal: 35 mph speed limit, lanes for bikes, buses, trains” Rosalind Rossi, Aug. 05, 2013