Downtown motorists could face a traffic headache near Navy Pier as new lane closures take effect Tuesday morning to pave the way for steel beams to support the long-awaited Navy Pier Flyover.
The closure of two lanes of Grand Avenue, which were initially scheduled to begin last week, are now expected to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday, according to Michael Claffey, spokesperson for the Chicago Department of Transportation.
The closures are expected to last five weeks. Three weeks of daytime closures during off-peak hours are also planned on northbound Lake Shore Drive, and five weeks of traffic headaches will ensue on Illinois Street.
- Closure of the eastbound lane for Lake Point Tower garage access and the southernmost westbound lane
- Closure of the island at the northeast corner of Grand and lower Lake Shore Drive; pedestrians will be routed to the south sidewalk of Grand
- Closure of the east sidewalk of lower Lake Shore Drive between Illinois and Grand
- Closure of one eastbound lane of lower Lake Shore Drive between Illinois and Grand
- Intermittent 15-minute nighttime closures of all lanes of Grand from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.; pedestrians will be routed to the north sidewalk of Grand during nighttime work
On Wednesday nights during Navy Pier fireworks, the 10 p.m. closure time will be pushed back to accommodate exiting traffic.
Starting in late July or early August, the work between Lake Shore Drive and Lake Point Tower will require closure of:
- The two lanes on upper northbound Lake Shore Drive on weekdays between Illinois and Grand from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- The east sidewalk of lower Lake Shore Drive with pedestrians detoured around Lake Point Tower onto the west sidewalk of lower Lake Shore Drive
Once the work on Grand is done, traffic on Illinois will be reduced to two lanes near the intersection of lower Lake Shore Drive with intermittent night-time closures from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
The 1.5-mile $60 million project is aimed at eliminating a notorious bottleneck along the lakefront path near Navy Pier that has created a dangerous free-for-all between cyclists, joggers, skaters, pedestrians and motorists, according to CDOT. The dedicated bike and pedestrian path will be 16 feet wide and extend from Jane Addams Park to just south of the Chicago River bridge.
It will offer a safe and scenic alternative to a confusing and dangerous stretch of the 18.5-mile lakefront trail that features blind corners, narrow rights-of-way and traffic conflicts that choke the trail and create a hazardous experience for pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles.
The lakefront trail has remained open to pedestrians and cyclists during the four-year construction project, but officials have warned of periodic detours.
The project is being carried out in three phases. The first phase is the north segment, which began construction in March 2014. Starting at the north end of Jane Addams Park, the path rises over the Ohio Street underpass and Grand Avenue onto upper Lake Shore Drive behind Lake Point Tower.
It will then cross over Illinois and terminate north of Ogden Slip. In addition, a ramp down to Navy Pier following the alignment of the Lake Shore Drive off-ramp will be constructed during this phase.
The middle phase is the DuSable segment over DuSable Park, anticipated to begin construction in spring 2016.
The third and final phase is the Lake Shore Drive bridge segment. It will double the width of the sidewalk on the east side of the existing Lake Shore Drive Bridge by cantilevering off the existing structure and passing through the two existing east side bridge houses. It will connect to the existing path on the south side and the new flyover path on the north side.