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The New Underpass by Shedd Aquarium

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The New Underpass by Shedd Aquarium

Old 04-17-08, 02:29 PM
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The New Underpass by Shedd Aquarium



From The Chicago Journal

Just south of the Shedd Aquarium, the lakefront bicycle and pedestrian path intersects with Solidarity Dr., a street leading to the Adler Planetarium that features two east- and two west-bound lanes separated by a median strip.

During peak summer months, as many as 5,000 bikers and 4,500 pedestrians cross the intersection each day, according to a count conducted by the Chicago Department of Transportation. With around 160 parking meters along Solidarity, the intersection often becomes busy with a flurry of transportation uses converging at once.

CDOT will spend an estimated $16.8 million to drop the path underneath Solidarity in an effort to ease congestion and improve safety at the intersection. The federal Congestion and Air Quality Mitigation Improvement Program will contribute $13.4 million toward the project; the rest comes from state and city sources.

"The biggest issue there is you have all these uses combined in one space-bikes, motorists, pedestrians, in-line skaters all crossing each other's paths at the Solidarity location," said Brian Steele, a CDOT spokesman. "We began a couple years ago looking for a solution, and the underpass emerged as the most effective solution."

The underpass will be 24 feet wide, and slope gradually downward. A middle section between the Solidarity Drive median strip will be left open. Landscaping and greenery would be added throughout the new space created by the underpass making it "a more modern version," Steele said, of existing tunnels that connect pedestrians and bikers to the lakefront in Streeterville.

Rob Sadowsky, president of the Chicago Bicycle Federation, is glad CDOT is building the project, but noted the Solidarity Drive intersection was not the Bicycle Federation's top priority for improvement on the lakefront path, which is near Navy Pier.

Still, Sadowsky said he is glad when any "conflict point" along the lakefront path is removed.

"It's especially challenging when you have tourists coming in visiting the museums," he said. "They're out there ready to visit that museum but they're not paying attention to the right of ways, what's going on around them."

One biker who frequents the lakefront path said the intersection was one of its few "Achilles heels."

"There are a lot of pedestrians. A lot of cars there don't see well, or don't look for bicyclists," said Greg Borzo, a media manager for scientific affairs at the Field Museum, located west of the underpass project. "I know the intersection well because I work nearby but I think someone who would ride through for the first time would be surprised to see an intersection, with cars, right there."

Construction is expected to begin this summer. It will be conducted over two phases, with half of Solidarity shut down during each phase. Nearly all of the parking meters along Solidarity will be removed, as the street will convert into a two-way lane to accommodate construction.

Pedestrians and bikers will route around the construction site on a reconfigured path to the west of the Shedd Aquarium that travels between it and the Field Museum.
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Old 04-17-08, 02:37 PM
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Sounds like there were possibly other more pressing issues that could have been addressed?

I like when any money is spent on bikes...even if it's $16.8 Million
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Old 04-17-08, 02:57 PM
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Have you ever ridden on the path in that area? It's really a madhouse. I can't tell you how many people with strollers stop in the middle of the path all day long to look around not realizing it's a path. And, 70% of the time, cars do not stop at the stopsigns there. It's not really an intersection, so people driving just don't even look for them, or believe they apply to them, they just roll right through. Taxi cab bumpers have often kissed my real wheel.

They're not telling the full story about that path though. There's a lot of land south of there that used to be Meigs Field Airport, but now it's going to be a nature preserve and park for the public, the city wants people to be able to get to it easier, so I think some of the cost is offset by that also.

I sort of wrote that like you know nothing about nothin', but I actually did it to sell the city to others that stumble across this valuable information which I have typed.
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Old 04-17-08, 03:34 PM
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The pricetag seems large, but they definately needed to do something with that area where the road and path cross.
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Old 04-17-08, 07:09 PM
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I actually haven't ridden that exact spot, but I have walked through there a couple of times. I was more asking because the article alluded to the Chicago Bike Fed claiming other areas as being more important to improve first.

Meigs field was my first introduction to Chicago politics. That happened the first time I lived here....I was like, "WTF??!! Can he really do that???!!"
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Old 04-17-08, 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
Sounds like there were possibly other more pressing issues that could have been addressed?

I like when any money is spent on bikes...even if it's $16.8 Million
I would agree that a ped/bike bridge over the Chicago river along LSD would have been better use of money (I believe it to be in the same $ range), but it may well have been the only way they will get these specific federal dollars.
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Old 04-17-08, 09:19 PM
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Well, I'm not sure if it's the best thing for the moment, but at least money is being spent for bikes.
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Old 04-17-08, 09:59 PM
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I wish they would fix that bridge that goes from Illinois Street to Wacker by Navy Pier. They've been doing something there but I can't tell if it has anything to do with pedestrian traffic.

The construction workers along there don't seem like that want a man in spandex stopping to talk to them. That's the feeling I get when I ride by and hear one of them say out loud, "I hope that man in spandex never stops to talk to us."
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Old 04-18-08, 07:14 AM
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^^
They are building on/off ramps for the still-to-be-built Spire
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Old 04-18-08, 07:28 AM
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The International Olympic Committee will be visiting next Spring. So, as long as we make the cut in June, expect a LOT of construction projects along the lakefront this year, as they'll want to show off the lakefront to the IOC.
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Old 04-18-08, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by bibliobob View Post
The International Olympic Committee will be visiting next Spring. So, as long as we make the cut in June, expect a LOT of construction projects along the lakefront this year, as they'll want to show off the lakefront to the IOC.
There's a lot of work to be done. I'm not too familiar with how the path looks south of Soldier Field, but everything north of Navy Pier is due for a total resurfacing...the "fixes"they made last year aren't holding up worth a lick. There are countless frost heaves and serious cracks in path and they only seem to get worse as time goes on. The whole curve at Oak St is ridiculous, it's like riding through an obstacle course.
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Old 04-18-08, 10:57 AM
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You could make that statement about every paved surface in the state, but I do feel your pain.
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