The commute for Lincoln Park residents is about to get even more stressful. On March 19th, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) will begin reconstruction of the Fullerton Parkway Bridge. In addition to feeding countless motorists on and off Lake Shore Drive, the heavily-trafficked bridge also conveys runners, pedestrians, and bikers to and from the lakefront. The challenge of appeasing these competing interests was evident at the latest community meeting, hosted by the Lincoln Park Advisory Council (LPAC) and Ald. Michele Smith. Two aspects of the plan proved the most contentious:
The first involves the destruction of mature trees. Last month, when news surfaced that nearly 40 such trees were targeted for removal as part of the project, it created an uproar in the community. After further study by Jacobs/Ryan Associates, the landscape architecture firm involved in the project, it was ultimately determined that 33 trees would be cut down. Terry Ryan, partner/owner of Jacobs/Ryan, also pointed out that 122 new trees will be planted, mostly native species.
Second, there will no longer be any pedestrian access along the south side of the bridge. Instead, all pedestrian and bike traffic will be confined to a 20-foot-wide span on the north side. Some residents objected to the change because attractions like the Lincoln Park Zoo and Conservatory are on the south side of Fullerton. People coming from them tend naturally to move eastward along that side of Fullerton toward the lake. Forcing them to cross a busy stretch of road is inconvenient. Others lamented the loss of an amazing vantage point of the skyline which draws casual onlookers and photographers alike.
Here are some additional features of the $11.6 million project:
- ADA compliant pedestrian access paths
- Additional eastbound lane to LSD southbound ramp to mitigate congestion
- 20-foot-wide pedestrian underpass on the west bank of the Lincoln Park Lagoon with better lighting for improved safety
- Protective railings along the pedestrian thoroughfare on the south side of the bridge
- Removal of a pier to facilitate rowing in the lagoon
- Additional traffic light between the lagoon and LSD to reduce accidents
The timeline for construction is as follows: During phase one, from March 19th to the end of July, work will take place on the southern portion of the bridge. Then, from August to December 31st, crews will focus on the north side. One lane of traffic will remain open at all times. The pedestrian underpass, however, will be closed for the duration of the project. Finally, landscaping, expected to get underway once the bridge is completed, should wrap up around June 2013.
·Fullerton Bridge Reconstruction (PDF) [CDOT Press Release]
·Marked in the park [Skyline]
·Additional renderings (PDF) [Ald. Michele Smith]