The ambitious plan from the Obama Foundation which would reshape a large chunk of Chicago’s Jackson Park could see the creation of new attractions like a sledding hill and performance lawn, but to do so, the organization headed up by former United States President Barack Obama says that a number of road closures and the rerouting of existing traffic would have to happen first.
At the unveiling of the proposal last month, President Obama indicated that South Cornell Drive between 60th and 67th streets would have to be closed. However, at a public meeting last night in the South Shore neighborhood, Chicago Department of Transportation commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld revealed that a section of Marquette Drive would also have to be closed.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Scheinfeld stated that stretch of Marquette Drive between Stony Island Avenue and Richards Drive would need to be closed as a part of the Jackson Park Golf Course overhaul. In addition, the short eastbound connector of Midway Plaisance between Stone Island Avenue and Cornell Drive would be closed.
While Cornell Drive is often used by drivers to transfer between Lake Shore Drive and the Chicago Skyway, CDOT’s plan would be to improve both the sections of Hayes Drive and Lake Shore Drive that run through Jackson Park.
While the announcement of additional road closures and changes in traffic patterns caused some audible groans from the audience, Tribune reporter Manya Brachear Pashman detailed, President Obama asked last month at the plan’s formal unveiling that residents not get too hung up on traffic issues. The President also added that keeping the six-lane Cornell Drive as it exists would hamper his organization’s plan. “The truth is, if you have that road, there’s only so much you can do,” the president said last month at the South Shore Cultural Center.
There will be two more public meetings hosted by the city and the Chicago Park District to discuss the changes coming to Jackson Park. The next meeting will take place at the Hyde Park High School this Saturday starting at 10:00 a.m. while the third meeting will be held next Tuesday at the La Rabida Children's Hospital starting at 6:00 p.m.