Think you can make North Lake Shore Drive better?
Through an online map, the city and state departments of transportation and the city's park district are giving Chicagoans through the end of the month to pitch their suggestions for improving the stretch of the Drive from Grand Avenue to Hollywood Avenue. Users can critique its transportation infrastructure, public parks and lakefront.
The tool was presented Tuesday to several dozen curious Chicagoans at the Drake Hotel in River North. The Illinois Department of Transportation and Chicago Department of Transportation are soliciting public comments until Aug. 1.
Depending on how one analyzes the data, North Lake Shore Drive has its share of problems.
According to IDOT officials, the North Drive has seen about 5,800 crashes in the past five years--an average of three per day. The most common crashes are rear-ends and sideswipes. At its peak in the summer months, the lakefront trail sees an average of 31,000 users per day, officials said, but many bridges and tunnels are over 80 years old and don't provide handicap accessibility.
And as for its bus routes, officials said that CTA buses that take the Drive see as many as 69,000 users per day, and are expecting that number to climb to 85,000 by 2040. Yet some bus stops lack sidewalks or bus shelters.
Change will likely come slow. The planning phase of the project, which requires officials to assess the environmental impact of any proposed changes, is slated to run until 2018. Any physical changes to the drive will likely come years later, officials said. So far, IDOT has received about 400 submissions of over 1,200 ideas for the Drive.
This isn't the first time city planners have turned to technology to solicit infastructure feedback. Last year, a map was used to gather ideas about Divvy bikeshare stations.
Some ideas for the Drive are already up on the site. For example, a user suggested the city expand the pedestrian underpass between the lakefront and the city streets at Chicago Avenue. Another user suggested placing a limestone path along the western edge of the lakefront bike trail to separate bike traffic from pedestrians, tourists and joggers around the heavily trafficked North Avenue Beach.
Up at the Hollywood Avenue exit, several commenters asked IDOT to create more roads for cars exiting the Drive, which often experiences a bottleneck effect during rush hour.
There are currently no more public hearings scheduled before the Aug. 1 suggestion deadline.
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