The Chainlink

Pier pressure: is the Navy Pier Flyover bike/ped bridge really worth $45 million or is there an alternative?

Everyone agrees that conditions on Chicago's Lakefront Trail between the river and Ohio Street Beach need to be improved. The Chicago Department of Transportation is planning to build the Navy Pier Flyover, a bridge-like structure that would carry trail users up over the river, Illinois Street and Grand Avenue, bypassing these problem spots, at a jaw-dropping $45 million price tag. To put that in perspective, in 2008 the Portland, Oregon, Bureau of Transportation estimated the entire replacement cost of that city's then 300-mile bike network at about $60 million. Today on Grid Chicago Steven Vance proposes an alternative: http://gridchicago.com/2012/navy-pier-flyover-is-it-worth-45-million-or-is-there-another-way/

What do you think: is it worth spending $45 million on the flyover or do you prefer Steven's proposal?


Keep moving forward,

John Greenfield

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If CDOT wanted to use the funds (or any part of the funds – the project is divided into three distinct segments) for a different project, I believe they would have to get approval from the State DOT (a funder), Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP, the administrator of CMAQ funds), and U.S. DOT (a funder).

The project might have earmarks, which is a different story. 


Kevin C said:

How much discretion would CDOT have over the use of these funds if the flyover weren't built; i.e. does the $44.5 million in funding from the State of Illinois and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grants from the Federal Highway Administration just disappear if not applied to this infrastructure project? 

Just needs a little barbed wire to finish it off.



John Greenfield said:

The Lake Point Tower residents should be satisfied with the current design. It'd be pretty hard to scale that fence.

Razor Ribbon (C) ?

What do the people at Lake Point Tower expect? They live right next to the #1 tourist attraction in Chicago. If they were worried about people being near their building, then they shouldn't have moved there in the first place.

Cameron Puetz said:

Scaling the fence was only one of their concerns. Although that design would also seem to address throwing things over then fence and looking through the fence, so the only issue still to be addressed is talking loudly. The amount of NIMBYism coming from Lake Point Tower at the meetings I went to was amazing.



John Greenfield said:

The Lake Point Tower residents should be satisfied with the current design. It'd be pretty hard to scale that fence.

There i$ alway$ an element of the "Eye-$ore" argument which theoretically might detract from Property Value$ -which i$ u$ually what all of thi$ boil$ down to when it come$ to Nimbyi$m. 

It's always about money, isn't it?

James BlackHeron said:

There i$ alway$ an element of the "Eye-$ore" argument which theoretically might detract from Property Value$ -which i$ u$ually what all of thi$ boil$ down to when it come$ to Nimbyi$m. 

With that set, unfortunately yes. 

Adam Herstein said:

It's always about money, isn't it?


Without rereading, my memory is that the flyover will not solve the Jane Addams Park problem.  Perfect example of the problem there:  Today--I assume because of the storms--there were not as many people as one would expect on a Friday afternoon.  There was, however, just at the top of the hill heading north from Grand, a family of four holding hands and stretched across the entire right side of the path into the left side of the path.  On the side of this charming chain that was closest to the middle of the path was a very small child.  They seemed quite surprised when I came up behind them--slowly--and told them that there would be a lot of bikes coming through.

That's how I felt, too.

Cameron Puetz said:

Scaling the fence was only one of their concerns. Although that design would also seem to address throwing things over then fence and looking through the fence, so the only issue still to be addressed is talking loudly. The amount of NIMBYism coming from Lake Point Tower at the meetings I went to was amazing.



John Greenfield said:

The Lake Point Tower residents should be satisfied with the current design. It'd be pretty hard to scale that fence.

I rode my bike today (Friday, June 29, 2012) from Montrose beach to Randolph Street (and took Lower Randolph to Jefferson to Lake to Green to Fulton to The Publican to meet some people for drinks). I had the "privilege" of riding through the "affected zone". It helped remind me why I devised this proposal and wrote about it on Grid Chicago. I was riding southbound and in the short time (well, longer than it needs to be) to bike from Jane Addams Memorial Park to Randolph Street, I witnessed at least 5 people bike in the northbound curbside lane of Lower Lake Shore Drive (a behavior I discussed in the proposal). 

I don't know if any infrastructure can solve the problem Lisa describes. 


Lisa Curcio said:

Without rereading, my memory is that the flyover will not solve the Jane Addams Park problem.  Perfect example of the problem there:  Today--I assume because of the storms--there were not as many people as one would expect on a Friday afternoon.  There was, however, just at the top of the hill heading north from Grand, a family of four holding hands and stretched across the entire right side of the path into the left side of the path.  On the side of this charming chain that was closest to the middle of the path was a very small child.  They seemed quite surprised when I came up behind them--slowly--and told them that there would be a lot of bikes coming through.

I've thought about my proposal more since posting this (and since it's been viewed more than 1,300 times). I biked through the "affected area" today (Friday). Here's what I think:

1. The proposal doesn't necessarily have to compete with all three segments of the Navy Pier Flyover. The proposal is an immediate solution to the issues. This is apparent because there was an immediate and effective solution in 2009 when the Lake Shore Drive Bridge sidewalk that *all* Lakefront Trail users pass over was inaccessible. The converted travel lane over Lake Shore Drive Bridge, through Illinois Street and up to Grand Avenue, could be built in 48 hours with a little asphalt (south of the bridge) metal plates, guardrails, and Jersey barriers.

2. The creation of north-south safe bikeways (read: protected bike lanes, cycle tracks, whatever you want to call them) near the Lakefront Trail will reduce the demand of the Lakefront Trail. At least one commenter in this discussion has proposed using lanes on Columbus Drive for the use of people bicycling. I like this idea. I think it's complementary to my proposal. People who ride north and south on the Lakefront Trail (to access their jobs, their homes, or just to avoid automobile traffic in the grid) may find SAFE streets more convenient. 

3. There is a lot of poor design on the Lakefront Trail, not just near Navy Pier. There are lots of tight turns (I'd have to stop and write all of these down, which would delay my trip), bumpy and uneven pavement (I'd never get to where I was going if I stopped to denote each location), multiple intersections too close to each other (think North Avenue pedestrian overpass near LFT western bypass at North Avenue beach), and narrow sections (think Ohio Street Beach ramp), among other issues. These are all disadvantageous to cycling, and to the mixture of modes on the Lakefront Trail. 

Your idea about the converted travel lane sound like a solid one.

Columbus Drive should have bike lanes with jersey barriers due to vehicle speed.  It's a great intermediate option between the lakefront and the Loop. I've often used it to avoid the congestion in both areas, especially after a concert or movie in Grant Park or Millennium Park.

I absolutely agree about many poorly designed locations all along the lakefront.  There are too many pinch points, blind intersections with no convex mirrors for assistance, intersections too close together, etc.  This makes the path less safe than it could be.

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