CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other state and local officials today opened the expanded section of South Lake Shore Drive, a $64 million project that will improve traffic flow and downtown access from the south and west. The mostly state-funded project is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to create jobs and drive Illinois’ economy forward and is a key component of Mayor Emanuel’s Building a New Chicago plan.
“Lake Shore Drive runs between a great lake and a great city, and this new expansion will improve the quality of life from 79th to 92nd streets and beyond,” Governor Quinn said. “This major expansion created hundreds of jobs and now that it's complete, it will keep driving our economy forward. Today brings good news for Illinois residents and visitors who will now be able to enjoy this new route.”
“This was the first project that broke ground as part of ‘Building a New Chicago’ and there is no better symbol of what that phrase means for both the South Side as well as for the city as a whole,” Mayor Emanuel said. “This is a boon for residents and business-owners who have been waiting for this day and a boon to local businesses who worked on it. We’re taking the traffic out of the neighborhood, and opening up hundreds of acres to development that will bring new businesses, new jobs and new life to the South Side.”
The joint state-city project creates a new main north-south alignment for U.S. Route 41 by relocating Lake Shore Drive from 79th Street to Ewing near 92nd Street, a distance of about two miles, and connecting side roads from the existing neighborhood to the new alignment. Intersections and side roads, including 83rd and 87th Streets, were reconstructed as part of the project. The four-lane divided road also features a five-foot on street buffered bicycle lane in each direction from 79th Street to 87th Street and a non-buffered bicycle lane in each direction from 87th Street south. New traffic signals and street lighting complete the work.
A total of $46 million for the project came from Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program. Federal highway funds totaling $15 million and $3 million from the City of Chicago completed the funding package. The construction project was managed by the City of Chicago in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Today’s announcement was held at the site of a new lakefront development by McCaffery Interests and United States Steel Corporation, a prime example of the type of economic development the relocated section of Lake Shore Drive will encourage. The developers have deeded nearly 100 acres of lakefront property to the Chicago Park District. The Park District will use $100,000 in Coastal Management Program funding from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to plan the new park. The new Lake Shore Drive alignment will make the entire residential, commercial and recreational development more accessible to the public. The area is part of the Millennium Reserve, Governor Quinn’s signature initiative in the Calumet region, and part of the Obama administration’s America’s Great Outdoors.
The Lake Shore Drive relocation serves the existing community and future developments. The project adds character to the south Chicago community and allows easier access across it from areas west toward Lake Michigan. More than 24,000 vehicles per day are expected to use the new alignment.
The Lake Shore Drive project is part of Governor Quinn’s $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! program, which will support more than 439,000 jobs over six years. Illinois Jobs Now! is the largest capital construction program in Illinois history, and is one of the largest capital construction programs in the nation.