Chicago's long-awaited Navy Pier Flyover opened Monday, with officials cutting the ribbon on the project that fully connects the north and south portions of the city's Lakefront Trail.
The third and final phase of the flyover path construction was completed, connecting the arching walking and cycling path from Illinois Street south across the Chicago River.
The Chicago Department of Transportation said Phase Three of the project was the most challenging because it involved tunneling through two historic 1930s-era bridge houses, structures that also needed to function with the bascule bridge mechanism.
Phase One was the creation of a path over the Ohio Street underpass and Grand Avenue onto upper Lake Shore Drive, then crossing over Illinois and ending north of Ogden Slip. Phase Two was the construction of a 16-foot-wide bridge from the north end of the Chicago River Bridge, adjacent to Lake Shore Drive and over DuSable Park to just north of Ogden Slip
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Phase Three was the final piece of the puzzle for the project that began in 2014. The other curving spines of the path have been done since 2018. A new ramp for cyclists down to Navy Pier opened three months ahead of the ribbon-cutting on Monday.
The pedestrian and bike bridge links the two halves of the city's Lakefront Trail to create an "uninterrupted, 18-mile ribbon from 71st Street to Hollywood Avenue," Mayor Lori Lightfoot's office said in announcing its completion.
"The Lakefront Trail is undoubtedly one of Chicago's crown jewels—a reputation that has only been amplified thanks to the completion of the Navy Pier Flyover project, which seamlessly connects our North and South Sides," Lightfoot said in a statement. "This incredible project also improves public safety and provides stunning views of our lakefront and Navy Pier for pedestrians, joggers, and bikers alike."
Lightfoot's office said the timeline for the project, which began before she took office, "stretched out longer than initially anticipated" because it was done as funding became available. The project cost $64 million and came from federal and state sources, the city said.
Structural and mechanical work on the Lake Shore Drive Bridge will continue through 2021, according to the city.