Civiltech’s North DuSable Lake Shore Drive Phase I Study seeks to redefine one of the most iconic roadways in America with the reconstruction of the drive between Grand and Hollywood Avenues within Lincoln Park in Chicago. Civiltech is the lead consultant on this complex and impactful project. Through technical expertise, outstanding communication skills, artistic rendering talent, and out-of-the-box thinking, Civiltech has assisted our clients, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), in sharing the NDLSD project with the public. The variety of communication tools employed has allowed the team to explain the complexities and design goals of the project in easily understandable and effective ways.

Presenting NDLSD to Industry Professionals

In late February, Civiltech’s Jen Hyman, P.E., and Phil Hutchinson, PLA, LEED AP, presented “North DuSable Lake Shore Drive Project Overview” at the 2024 Illinois Transportation and Highway Engineering (T.H.E.) Conference, held in Champaign, IL. The annual conference brings together over one thousand Transportation Engineers, officials, technicians, faculty, and students, providing a forum to discuss critical issues that impact the Illinois transportation network. Dave Miller, with CDOT, and Kimberly Murphy, with IDOT joined in the presentation.

Jen is Civiltech’s Director of Environmental and Design Studies and has led the complex federal review processes for the NDLSD Study. In the presentation, she shared the rich historic significance and resulting challenges of this complex project. Jen presented the overarching study goals which include improving safety for all users, improving mobility for all users, improving access and circulation, and addressing infrastructure deficiencies. The goals are being addressed through proposed improvements to transit, the Lakefront Trail, the roadway and infrastructure, park space, and shoreline protection.

Phil leads Civiltech’s Landscape Architecture department and Digital Rendering Team. Phil and his team have developed robust images illustrating design ideas and opportunities along NDLSD. His portion of the presentation included a rich and engaging series of existing condition/potential future condition images, utilizing before photos at significant study locations within the project limits and exciting digital renderings showing potential future conditions.

Renderings as a Communications Tool

Prior to their use in the recent THE Conference, the renderings created by Phil and the Digital Rendering team have been used in meetings with a large variety of stakeholders at many stages of the project. The renderings are an outstanding communications tool that helps explain complex engineering design with an easily understandable illustration of the proposed improvement. The team’s renderings are featured on the project website, The “Latest Plans and Renderings” page features a slide tool that allows the public to see the existing condition of a portion of the project, then slide over the graphic to reveal the exciting “Potential Future Condition.”

Messaging on Specific Project Topics

Civiltech’s renderings as well as written content have been included in NDLSD Study Spotlights. A Study Spotlight is a one-page document that covers specific project topics, such as Lakefront Trail & Park Access, Environment & Climate Change, and Transit Improvements. The Study Spotlights are ongoing and capture the project’s status at the specific time they were prepared, helping create a backstory of the project’s path to the upcoming preferred alternative reveal.

Lissa Sweeney, AICP, LEED AP, has had a significant role in the Public Involvement campaigns for the NDLSD project. She has also been involved in creating the large quantity of materials that explain all of the facets of the project to the public, including the Study Spotlights and other pieces of the NDLSD website as well as content for public meetings.

Sharing Shoreline Protection Studies through Video

A major component of the project is to provide improved shoreline protection measures that address resiliency issues. The project team wanted to find a way to get information on the shoreline study component out to the public and determined that a video would be an effective tool to share the complex process of analyzing current and future shoreline erosion issues and of designing to address those issues. A 3-minute video was produced to share the development and testing potential of shoreline protection measures.

As the lead Engineering Consultant on the Study, the Civiltech team led the creation and production of a video that shares the complex process of analyzing current and future shoreline erosion issues and of designing to address those issues. The team worked with Baird and Associates, an engineering firm specializing in shoreline reconstruction and the consultant studying the shoreline along the NDLSD project limits. As part of providing testing and data collection, Baird’s work included a scale model of a key section of the lakefront which was built in a wave tank and was used to collect physical data on climate impacts on the shoreline.

Lissa led the effort working with Baird to gather the information to be included in the video. Baird had provided presentations to the internal project team with a significant amount of information on the data collection process, including video clips. Lissa used that information to outline and script for the video and to write an associated Study Spotlight.

Lissa pulled in Civiltech’s Creative Director, Keith Nowakowski, to help bring the script to life. Keith reviewed materials provided by Baird, including video footage of the wave pool testing, and he worked with Lissa to obtain period photos and news footage of NDLSD. The original intent was for the video to be just graphics and on-screen copy, but with the specialized data being presented the team determined that narration was needed, which Jen provided. She brought a strong understanding of the shoreline studies component, having previously joined Baird’s Rory Agnew in presenting the NDLSD project as part of the Friends of the Parks lecture series on Nature Based Solutions to Lakeshore Erosion. She also brought video narration experience from her work on CDOT’s Jackson Park Transportation Improvements Project Overview video.

Civiltech is thrilled to assist CDOT and IDOT in sharing the NDLSD Phase I Study story to the public and looks forward to the announcement of the preferred design alternative. Using a variety of creative and impactful communications tools, our team is excited to continue presenting this complex and multi-faceted project to the public.

Visit to see existing condition/potential future condition images of the project, the shoreline video, Study Spotlights, and other information. Visit for in-depth stories explaining the project’s historical significance.