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North-Side Stretch Of Lakefront Trail To Close Next Week To Separate Bike, Pedestrian Lanes

By Stephen Gossett in News on May 15, 2017 8:50PM

City of Chicago

With the mercury expected to hit the mid-80s this week, we're in the midst of some primo Lakefront Trail weather. The long-term good news is that the city continues to make key strides in its much-needed project to separate the trail into distinct biking and pedestrian paths; the short-term bad news is that construction on the separation along a northern stretch of the trail is set to start just as we steer into summer.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel—along with Michael P. Kelly, of the Chicago Park District, and hedge-fund billionaire Ken Griffin—on Saturday held a ceremonial ground-breaking for the next leg of construction. The trail will be closed east of Lake Shore Drive between Diversey and North Avenues to accommodate work—which takes place between Fullerton and North—beginning May 22.

Construction will also take place from Oak to Ohio streets, according to release from the city of Chicago. A shared land will be provided to allow movement around construction.

The Chicago Park District also posted a suggested detour map—the route will be marked—for the long stretch between Diversey and North.

“This is an important next step in continued efforts to make the Lakefront Trail safer and more accessible for the thousands of cyclists, runners and walkers that use the path each day,” Mayor Emanuel said in a release. “Trail separation does more than address issues of overcrowding; it builds a better future for one of the city’s greatest assets by ensuring Chicagoans and visitors are able to experience what the lakefront has to offer.”

The city announced in December of last year that the full 18-mile length of the lakefront trail would be separated into a cyclist path and a runner path. Emanuel had previously announced back in March of 2016 a plan that would separate only seven miles of the lakefront trail—between Fullerton Avenue and Ohio Street and between 31st St and 51st street. The expanded separation was announced after Ken Griffin—the controversial billionaire Citadel founder and a financial backer of both Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Bruce Rauner—committed a $12 million donation to the Chicago Park District.

While construction is set to get under way on the northern sector of trail, separation of a stretch along the South Side, between 31st and 41st Streets, is expected to be wrapped up my Memorial Day.

When all is said and split, the bike trail—made of asphalt—will be 12 feet, and make up the east side of the trail; the pedestrian path is a full 20 feet wide—with 14 feet of asphalt and 6 feet of "soft surface" mix on either side.