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Coalition of 15 civic organizations calls for bold vision for North Lake Shore Drive reconstruction


Lee Crandell, Active Transportation Alliance, or 312-427-3325 x395
Mandy Burrell Booth, Metropolitan Planning Council, or 312-863-6018
Tim Jeffries, Friends of the Parks, or 312-857-2757 x12

Coalition of 15 Civic Organizations Calls for Bold Vision for North Lake Shore Drive Reconstruction
Design of North Lake Shore Drive Should Meet the Needs of Everyone Who Uses the Lakefront

CHICAGO, July 25, 2013 – A coalition of 15 organizations today released a civic platform for the reconstruction of North Lake Shore Drive, calling for a bold vision to better meet the needs of everyone who uses the lakefront. On July 22, the Illinois Department of Transportation and Chicago Department of Transportation announced the beginning of a planning study for the reconstruction of North Lake Shore Drive. The planning study offers a unique opportunity to “Redefine the Drive,” according to the project tagline.

Chicago now faces a choice: We can seize the opportunity to pursue bold plans in the tradition of Chicago's great visionaries who hoped for a more livable city, or we can reinforce the slow shift toward a superhighway that serves as an ever-widening barrier between Chicago and its lakefront. 

(Download PDF of civic platform: )
(Download high-resolution conceptual illustration: )

“Chicagoans deserve an iconic roadway that’s not just scenic to drive along, but is also an asset for everyone who uses the lakefront,” said Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance. “Our lakefront is an important corridor and green space for walking, biking, running and public transportation.”

“An investment of this scale should not only address today’s needs, but also anticipate our region’s future,” said MarySue Barrett, president of the Metropolitan Planning Council. “This means recognizing that Lake Shore Drive isn’t merely a transportation thoroughfare but plays a critical role in creating a livable, economically vibrant city and region.”

“We envision a Lake Shore Drive that creates a stronger connection between Chicagoans and their lakefront, knitting together our neighborhoods, our parks and our beaches,” said Erma Tranter, executive director of Friends of the Park. “Our lakefront represents what is best about Chicago, attracting an estimated 60 million annual visitors.”

The coalition encourages the public to attend upcoming public meetings Aug. 6-8. Meeting details can be found at

The coalition’s civic platform suggests the following principles for the reconstruction of North Lake Shore Drive and includes additional recommendations for the project team.

  • Facilitate safer, easier, more accessible and more comfortable East-West access between neighborhoods, Lincoln Park, Lake Michigan and the Lakefront Trail for people walking, running, biking or taking transit;
  • Significantly improve the safety, reliability, convenience, accessibility and comfort of all people traveling along the length of the lakefront, especially for public transportation and bicycling;
  • Increase park land and enhance the landscape design, identity, livability and amenities of Lincoln Park, Lake Michigan and the Lakefront Trail;
  • Utilize placemaking and gateway planning to enhance the identity and livability of Lake Shore Drive as a roadway serving the needs of local residential and retail activity as well as linking neighborhoods together and to downtown;
  • Leverage the north lakefront as an environmental asset, evaluating the design’s sustainability and mitigating the impact of Lake Shore Drive on air and water quality, storm water run-off and noise pollution;
  • Bring Lake Shore Drive into conformity with The Lake Michigan and Chicago Lakefront Protection Ordinance by restoring the road as a major boulevard in order to reduce the negative impact on other lakefront users and mitigate the spill-over congestion in neighborhoods; and
  • Protect the historic assets of Lincoln Park, including architecture and landscape design.

The civic platform is presented by a coalition of 15 civic organizations:

  • Active Transportation Alliance
  • Alliance for the Great Lakes
  • Center for Neighborhood Technology
  • Chicago Architecture Foundation
  • Chicago Area Runners Association
  • Chicago Group of the Sierra Club
  • CNU Illinois
  • Congress for the New Urbanism
  • Environmental Law & Policy Center
  • Friends of Downtown
  • Friends of the Parks
  • Illinois PIRG
  • Lake View Citizens’ Council
  • Metropolitan Planning Council
  • Natural Resources Defense Council