Officials announced Tuesday a plan to address potential flooding in Chicago from Lake Michigan as it nears record high water levels.
“Hundreds of yards” of jersey barriers will be installed along the lakefront this month to mitigate flooding at eight locations, the Chicago Department of Transportation said in a statement.
“It’s really higher than I ever imagined," said South Side resident Leonard Susberry.
Water levels in Lake Michigan are at a “near-record” high due to a longer-term wet pattern, the National Weather Service said. The lake’s water level has increased six feet since January 2013, and 15 inches in the past year.
“Once the weather turns in the fall when we get the rain and the heavy winds and everything, it’ll start coming up on Lake Shore Drive,” said South Side resident Demetrius Greg.
Barriers will be installed along Lake Shore Drive from Oak Street to North Avenue and at Fullerton Avenue, CDOT said. North Side installation locations will include Juneway Beach, Rogers Beach, Howard Beach and Granville Street. On the South Side, they will be installed from 49th to 50th Street and at 75th Street.
In addition to the concrete barriers, sandbags will soon go up along the bike path on the south side near 50th and 75th streets.
“I don’t know if they can stop Mother Nature, but it’s going to be interesting,” Susberry said.
Crews will work to install the barriers during overnight hours starting Tuesday, and the project is expected to be completed by the end of the month, CDOT said. Drivers traveling northbound on Lake Shore Drive may encounter lane closures when crews are working and are advised to use caution.
“Ensuring that the lakefront remains open and accessible to Chicagoans is a top priority for us,” Tom Carney, acting CDOT Commissioner said in the statement. “The lakefront path is a vital means of transportation, and one of the many things that makes Chicago such a unique city. This effort is only one of many projects that will protect our lakefront and residents.”