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Super-Ambitious Lake Shore Drive Proposal Would Add Park, Straighten Road

By Stephen Gossett in News on Feb 9, 2017 10:39PM

We all know Lake Shore Drive has a dangerous S-curve between Ohio Street and North Avenue. Streeterville's alderman, Brian Hopkins (2nd Ward), is one of many Chicago leaders hoping to straighten that accident-plagued stretch out—and totally remodel the lakefront it occupies.

Ald. Hopkins showed new renderings of the potential renovation last night, DNAinfo was first to report. There has long been discussion of renovating this stretch of highway and lakefront, under the umbrella term the North Lake Shore Drive project,but the new renderings by VOA Associates show new ambitions: Lake Shore Drive would now disappear underground for a stretch, and Curbed reports the lakefront would get 70 new acres of public parkland.

The cost of this ambitious plan could run upwards of $500 million, and in the best case scenario, construction wouldn't start until 2020. However, those in favor of the plan see it as a way to honor Daniel Burnham, the architect who in 1909 envisioned a Chicago lakefront entirely lined by parkland. It's a controversial vision—Mayor Emanuel sure got tired of it when it got in the way of the Lucas Museum—but it sure looks picturesque, albeit expensive, in the above existing-versus-proposed renderings.