By TONIA HILL
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Park District Superintendent Michael Kelly, on Sunday, broke ground on the next segment of the Lakefront Trail Separation project.
The groundbreaking took place at 5100 S. Lakeshore Drive on the Lakefront Trail. The Lakefront Trail Separation project will create separate bike and pedestrian paths from 41st Street to 55th Street.
Emanuel announced plans to separate the trail from Fullerton to Ohio streets and 31st to 51st streets last year when he unveiled Building on Burnham, to invest in Chicago’s parks and open spaces. The trail split will provide separate paths for cyclists and pedestrians.
The project is designed to alleviate areas of congestion by separating the Lakefront Trail into two paths.
The bike trail will be made of asphalt and will measure 12 feet in width and be located closest to Lake Shore Drive. The pedestrian trail will measure 20 feet in width with 14 feet of asphalt and six feet of a soft surface mix on either side.
A new pedestrian and bike bridge is under construction at 41st Street over South Lake Shore Drive. It is the second of five bridge projects of its kind. A replacement pedestrian bridge opened last year.
“Trail separation does more than address issues of overcrowding; it makes the lakefront more accessible for the thousands of visitors and Chicagoans that use the path each day,” Emanuel said. “Breaking ground from 41st to 55th is an important step as we continue working to make the Lakefront Trail more accessible and more enjoyable for pedestrians and cyclists alike.”
Trail separation, from 31st Street to 41st Street was completed in June, with continued construction from Fullerton to North Avenue and Oak Street to Ohio Street.
The city’s 18-mile Lakefront Trail that runs from Ardmore Avenue on the north to 71st Street on the south will be separated for pedestrians and cyclists and is expected to be complete in 2018.
“The Chicago Park District has worked collectively with the City of Chicago, Active Transportation Alliance and Chicago Area Runners Association for years in search of ways to provide a safer more efficient way for all to enjoy the lakefront trail,” said Kelly.
A $12 million donation was made to help fund the completion of the Lakefront Trail Separation Project. Emanuel and Kelly along with Kenneth Griffin, who donated for the project announced in December.
The Lakefront Trail is one of the busiest in the U.S.; it is estimated that more than 100,000 people per day use the trail during the summer weekends according to a recent study by Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA) and the Active Transportation Alliance (ATA).
Construction of the section from 41st Street to 55th Street is expected to be complete by the end of this year.