Chicago park expansion could extend Lake Shore Drive

Breanne Gilpatrick

The drive from Evanston to Chicago could become a lot shorter if a plan being considered by the Chicago Park District moves forward.

For several years Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley has discussed expanding Chicago park land to the northern edge of Chicago — a plan that would include the extension of Lake Shore Drive. The lakefront highway into Chicago now ends at West Hollywood Avenue, about a 20-minute drive from the southern edge of campus. Extending the lakefront road to the southern edge of Evanston near Calvary Cemetery could possibly cut that time in half.

Chicago Park District spokeswoman Michele Jones said the city is interested in doing a feasibility study to determine whether a such a plan would work. But she said the city hasn’t yet launched such a study.

Although the Chicago Park District still needs to do this feasibility study before preliminary plans can be made, a Chicago foundation already has sponsored a design competition for potential plans.

Ald. Edmund Moran (6th) showed one of the final designs from this competition to Evanston City Council members at Monday’s Human Services Committee meeting.

Moran presented the drawing to show how well it would work with the idea of building a marina in southeast Evanston.

Moran said Tuesday that an expansion plan would have several benefits for Evanston.

“My initial impression is that it could have some real beneficial effects for Evanston, the most important of which would be the elimination of that horrible driving stretch from Hollywood (Avenue) to Calvary Cemetery,” he said.

Moran said the plan also would bring economic development to Evanston and create more scenic jogging and biking paths in northern Chicago.

But some residents and aldermen are concerned about the plan and the committee recommended that the city council vote to study the issue.

At the meeting Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) urged study of the effects of a possible lakefront expansion. A Chicago lakefront expansion would extend to the edge of the Third Ward.

Wynne said Wednesday that although she doesn’t know many of the project details, she has some concerns about increased traffic flow in her ward.

“We really need to understand this quickly, find out what its impact is going to be on us and decide what our actions are going to be regarding it,” Wynne said.

Residents in southeast Evanston and in Roger’s Park also have objected to the idea.

At Monday’s Human Services Committee meeting, Don Gordon of Roger’s Park said residents in his area want to protect their lakefront. He said “hell will freeze over” before Roger’s Park residents let Mayor Daley extend Lake Shore Drive.

Communication senior Jordan Cerf said he plans to drive into Chicago on Lake Shore Drive at least once a week. Cerf said right now it almost seems like it takes longer to drive through Roger’s Park than it does to get through Chicago on Lake Shore Drive.

“Even though Chicago is right there, that area of Roger’s Park just seems like a disconnect,” Cerf said. “Extending Lake Shore (Drive) would just make it more accessible.”

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