MPC supports a proposal for a pedestrian bridge and underpass at 11th Street and Columbus Drive. The bridge and underpass will provide pedestrians, cyclists and persons with disabilities with unfettered access from public transit facilities to Chicago's Museum Campus and Soldier Field. The project will alleviate traffic congestion, which occurs when pedestrians try to cross Columbus and Lake Shore before and after major events.
November 13, 2002
Commissioner Alicia Berg
Department of Planning and Development
LaSalle, Room 1000
Chicago, IL 60602
Dear Commissioner Berg:
As a member of the Grant Park Framework Plan Steering Committee, the Metropolitan
Planning Council is pleased to submit this letter in support of the 11th
Street underpass and a newly constructed pedestrian bridge over the rail corridor
as proposed by the Chicago Park District. Under current conditions,
Columbus Drive, Lakeshore Drive and the Illinois Central Railroad serve
as major barriers to both efficient vehicle and pedestrian flow to Grant Park.
Pedestrians lack a clear pathway to and from the Museum Campus, Soldier Field,
the Roosevelt Road Metra and nearby CTA stops at Roosevelt. The only
existing pathways consist of sidewalks intersecting major roadways. Pedestrians
cross Columbus and Lake Shore drives in droves on major event days, tying
up traffic and risking their own safety. City resources are also
stretched, as additional police officers are needed to minimize conflicts
between pedestrians and vehicles.
To alleviate these problems, a pedestrian bridge and
underpass at 11th Street and Columbus Drive have been proposed. The
underpass has been discussed for the past several years, and most recently
surfaced as part of the Grant Park Framework Plan. The benefits of the
bridge and underpass are numerous. Both would improve safety conditions
for pedestrians, bicyclists and people with disabilities, while supporting the
use of public transportation as a convenient way of reaching park events.
Directing pedestrian traffic into an underpass would also alleviate traffic
congestion at Columbus Drive and Roosevelt Road on major event days.
Finally, the bridge and underpass would achieve one of the goals of the Grant
Park Framework Plan by physically connecting Grant Park’s southern spaces, which
are currently broken up by major city streets and grade-separated railroad
tracks. MPC has encouraged the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority
to finance these improvements
as part of its West Hall expansion plans and
would be supportive of such a request.
Improving pedestrian access and reducing traffic conflicts for the southern
end of the park with the 11th Street underpass and pedestrian bridge will help
to tie the western half of the park with the Museum Campus and Soldier Field,
further solidifying Grant Park as the city’s front yard.
Cc: Mayor Richard M. Daley
Plan Commission Members
Ald Burton Natarus
Ald Madeline Haithcock
Grant Park Framework Plan Steering
Lakefront Alliance for Transportation Planning