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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... as bad as, if not often worse than, the physical shortcomings of the LFT is the Park District's continued obsession with placing vending kiosks directly adjacent to it.  This could be fixed almost overnight if the political will existed.

A group of us bombarded CPD with emails a few years back to complain about specifically the positioning of the large kiosks at Fullerton and Jane Adams (which are relatively recent additions in the greater scheme of things).  CPD  did make some slight improvements later on and backed them away from the LFT a little bit. 

But there are still little refreshment and sunglasses stands, etc., especially along the Oak to North Ave stretch, right on the LFT where customers queue by standing in the LFT.  Those kiosks could be placed elsewhere with very minimal effort, on that stretch, they could be east of the LFT and then face east as well, which would result in customers queuing safely away from the LFT.

There really is absolutely no reason to place a kiosk where a customer needs to stand in the LFT, and I can't imagine the customers enjoy the hassle of being in everyone's way either.

The piddling amount of revenue these bring in (just like the 4 wheel pedal cars) does not even remotely justify how this diminishes the lakefront experience for hundreds of thousands (or millions?) of people all summer long.

I've posted an update along with new renderings of the Grid Chicago alternative proposal. 

http://gridchicago.com/2012/navy-pier-flyover-followup-new-renderin...

John:

I was under the impression that the flyover was part of a project that included roadwork on the LSD bridge as well? You appear to be saying that the flyover alone is $45 million dollars. Can you direct me to an online source that clean clear this up? Thanks.

No solid numbers but this from 2009: "The Navy Pier Flyover envisions using an estimated $40 million to develop what’s essentially a bridge rising adjacent to upper Lake Shore Drive, cantilevered out to the east of the busy expressway." From Chicago Journal

And this from Cityscapes in early 2011: “Why are we doing this now?” said one, alluding to chronic financial woes in Washington, Springfield and Chicago. “How are we going to pay for this?”

Don't know if the first quote answers your $$$ question but the second certainly appears to indicate that the high cost was already an acknowledged issue well before being raised on this thread ...

O said:

John:

I was under the impression that the flyover was part of a project that included roadwork on the LSD bridge as well? You appear to be saying that the flyover alone is $45 million dollars. Can you direct me to an online source that clean clear this up? Thanks.

You should put in context that the "Why are we doing this now?" comment was from someone on his blog, not Kamin.  Kamin also added:

>With all due respect to these cherished readers, I think they’re wrong: This project, which is called the Navy Pier Flyover and would cost up to $45 million in federal and state funds, is exactly the kind of infrastructure project that Chicago and the country needs.

It will create much-needed construction jobs. It will encourage commuters to bike or walk instead of drive, cutting air pollution. It will promote the economy by improving access to Navy Pier, the state’s top tourist attraction. And it will enhance Chicago’s greatest public space, the lakefront, by alleviating dangerous chokepoints like the one on the lower level of the Lake Shore Drive Bridge, where drivers, cyclists, inline skaters, joggers and pedestrians all jockey for space.

 Other readers instantly grasped these points. “THANK GOD!!!!!!!!!!” said one. “I use that area often and it’s AWFUL!” Added another: “One word -- tourism. Just imagine the photos of the city that people will get from this vantage point. ‘In Chicago, wish you were here!’ I’d guess it pays for itself in no time.”

but for cyclists, this is a breath of fresh air:

>America spends billions building and fixing the nation’s highways, using tax dollars to subsidize energy-wasting driving. But let Chicago try to build a transformative piece of infrastructure and people go nuts. They’re reacting against the idea of the elevated pathway, not its promising design.

As I posted on Steven's Grid Chicago page, cyclists deserve something first-class on the lakefront, not the  hodgepodge the LFT is as of now.  Give us something that will make us excited and proud to be biking in Chicago!


da' Square Wheelman (aka garth) said:

No solid numbers but this from 2009: "The Navy Pier Flyover envisions using an estimated $40 million to develop what’s essentially a bridge rising adjacent to upper Lake Shore Drive, cantilevered out to the east of the busy expressway." From Chicago Journal

And this from Cityscapes in early 2011: “Why are we doing this now?” said one, alluding to chronic financial woes in Washington, Springfield and Chicago. “How are we going to pay for this?”

Don't know if the first quote answers your $$$ question but the second certainly appears to indicate that the high cost was already an acknowledged issue well before being raised on this thread ...

O said:

John:

I was under the impression that the flyover was part of a project that included roadwork on the LSD bridge as well? You appear to be saying that the flyover alone is $45 million dollars. Can you direct me to an online source that clean clear this up? Thanks.

I was at that MBAC meeting years ago, vaguely remember a condo owner literally asserting in genuine fear that the flyover would be used by gangs of hooligans to burglarize them.  Maybe they're an asset to your cause.

If you make a path that is now in the street, what is the solution for getting them back on the lakefront trail at either end?

Give me 45 mil and I'll get those bikes across!

+1!  Ha, haven't heard that tune in ages...

in it to win it said:

Give me 45 mil and I'll get those bikes across!

I thought it was give me 40-acres to turn this rig around.

Carter O'Brien said:

+1!  Ha, haven't heard that tune in ages...

in it to win it said:

Give me 45 mil and I'll get those bikes across!

That was discussed in the original post: eliminate the traffic island that separates westbound Grand Avenue traffic from traffic that is turning into northbound Lake Shore Drive (at the southtwest corner of Jane Addams Park). Then, expand the park to occupy this space, widen the existing path in Jane Addams Park, and decrease the slope of this path. 

Gene Tenner said:

If you make a path that is now in the street, what is the solution for getting them back on the lakefront trail at either end?

More of the same...

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