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Hooray for the Flyover—But We Could've Had a Calatrava!

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As we reported earlier this week, the Navy Pier Flyover is scheduled to go before the Chicago Plan Commission today. That's great news! Anyone who has ever walked, biked or skated across the river on Lower Lake Shore Drive will surely agree. However, it's still not as exciting as what Garrett Kelleher had promised the city. For most of us, the Chicago Spire was no great loss; it would have been a nifty addition to the skyline, but the majority of Chicagoans weren't ready to fork over $1,500 per square foot to live in the building. We did collectively lose out on the improvements that Shelbourne promised to make to the surrounding area, though. Kelleher pledged to build a $40-million ramp for cars, a $9-million redevelopment of DuSable Park, and a spiffy Santiago Calatrava-designed pedestrian swing bridge crossing the Chicago River.

Blair Kamin made a passing reference to the Calatrava design at the end of his story about the Flyover today. Calatrava's bridge, as shown in the above rendering, looks quite similar to his Puente de la Mujer pedestrian bridge in Buenos Aires, or like a smaller version of his Samuel Beckett Bridge in Dublin. Either way, it would have been much more elegant than CDOT's utilitarian design. However, construction costs of the current design are estimated at $45 million, and considering how tight local and state budgets are, we'll be lucky to have anything. As Rob Sadowsky, the Active Transportation Alliance's former executive director, told the Chicago Journal last December: "There's going to be a collective scream of joy when this is done."
UPDATE: The second photo above spans Ogden Slip — not the Chicago River. View updated renderings here.
· Bike overpass proposed for lakefront at Chicago River [Trib]
· Flyover seen for congested point on trail [Chicago Journal]

Chicago Spire

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