Chicago Department of Transportation and Illinois Department of Transportation

North Lake Shore Drive Phase I Study

North Lake Shore Drive

Civiltech is conducting a Phase I study for the seven mile stretch of North Lake Shore Drive between Grand Avenue and Hollywood Avenue on the north side of the City of Chicago. The project is a joint undertaking of CDOT, IDOT, the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Transit Authority.

Improving an Iconic Boulevard

North Lake Shore Drive is an iconic boulevard that traverses historic Lincoln Park. Most of the infrastructure was constructed 80 years ago and is in need of reconstruction. In those 80 years, travel demand has increased dramatically, but so has transit usage and non-motorized travel. As many as 30,000 users per day utilize portions of the Lakefront Trail. A primary goal of the project is to strike a better balance between all users.
The project will correct design deficiencies at various locations along the corridor, particularly at the Oak Street Curve where an average of 3 crashes occur per week. Redesigning the curve will require extending the Drive into Lake Michigan. As such, extensive coordination is occurring with IDNR, USFWS and USACE to determine impacts and mitigation measures.

This Project Incorporates the Following:

  • Coordination with the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
  • Extensive public outreach programs
  • IDOT’s Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) process
  • Transit improvements
  • VISSIM microsimulation traffic modeling
  • Lakefront trail pedestrian path
  • Bike commuter path
  • Minimization of the transportation footprint of the roadway to reduce impacts to park land

Scope of Services

  • Environmental Impact Statement
  • Alternatives Analysis
  • Combined Design Report
  • Traffic Modeling and Simulation
  • Safety Studies
  • Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities
  • Intersection Design Studies
  • Highway Bridges
  • Highway Noise Analysis
  • NEPA/404 Merger Process
  • Interagency Coordination
  • Section 4(f)/Section 106 Statement
  • Public Involvement
  • Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) Process

Historic Considerations

Because Lincoln Park is on the National Register of Historic Places and the roadway right-of-way is located at the backs of curb, any changes to roadway facilities will result in an impact to the park. The park is not only a recreational facility protected under Section 4(f) of the U.S. Department of Transportation Act of 1966, but due to its historic nature is protected under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. As a result, this project requires substantial coordination with the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and ultimately the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.


Transit and Transportation Planning

The team has utilized the project as an opportunity to improve transit for the existing seven express bus routes that run along the inner and outer North Lake Shore Drive study area and carry more than 42,000 passengers on average per weekday. While geometric alternatives are being developed for pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles, Civiltech is modeling the traffic impacts that various roadway designs will have on these existing bus routes while comparing them to the No-Build alternative.

Alternatives for dedicated bus lanes, transit priority signals, improved bus stops, as well as queue jump and queue bypass lanes for buses are also considered in the design process. The team analyzes existing and projected datasets to determine where the consolidation of bus stops can happen to further expedite fast and convenient bus service. Other transit operation data analyzed includes bus dwell times; travel speeds; ridership; and bus stop location, spacing, and scheduling. These datasets are collected from both field observations and the transit agency. To further enhance the existing conditions analysis, the team utilizes VISSIM microsimulation software, a robust modeling program that considers all modes of travel and advanced factors that contribute to how a roadway functions for transit.


Pedestrian and Bicycle Accommodations

The project also provides an opportunity to improve the connectivity of various trails and paths that run along the lakefront with the Lakeshore Promenade and lakefront access points. The connections include safe access to the lakefront from various neighborhoods and city locations to the west as well as opportunities to cross under Lake Shore Drive. Bicycle and pedestrian facilities include a lakefront trail pedestrian path and a bike commuter path.
The project is being conducted utilizing IDOT’s Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) process. A number of Task Forces have been created to obtain input from residents, business owners and advocacy groups. An extensive public outreach program is being undertaken with a project website, newsletters, and media campaigns.

Stakeholder Considerations

Civiltech’s Phase I study of Lake Shore Drive considers the needs of existing and future stakeholders, including park goers, residents, agencies, and transit riders. The process also takes into account adjacent land uses, impacts on other travel modes, and minimizing the transportation footprint of the roadway to reduce impacts to park land. The project team has conducted extensive community engagement for this highly public-facing project and coordinates with the partnering agencies on messaging strategies that reach and address the needs of stakeholders who utilize the corridor on a regular basis.

Click on image to view large.

Learn more about this project
and its related services.

Contact Mike Folkening