City of Chicago Announces Plan to Address Potential Flooding from Lake Michigan

September 10, 2019

Measures will be implemented to protect residents and reduce damage on the lakefront

Mike Claffey    312.744.0707 |

Susan Hofer    312.742.2006 |

With the water level of Lake Michigan near a record high, the City of Chicago today announced a new citywide response plan to protect residents and reduce anticipated damage at the lakefront. The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) will be working alongside the Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) and the Department of Water Management (DWM) to install hundreds of yards of jersey barriers as a mitigation measure at eight lakefront locations that are vulnerable to flooding from storms this fall and winter.

“We know that this threat isn’t new to our city, in fact, high lake levels have been an ongoing issue that historically have caused serious damage to our lakefront infrastructure and beaches while also posing a continuous threat to pedestrian and traffic safety,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “We are constantly monitoring the lake’s water levels and creating solutions for potential flooding, and I am proud to be working with many partners both city and statewide on this effort to mitigate damage and maintain the beauty of the lakefront, while also ensuring the safety of residents.”

This project is being completed in coordination with the Chicago Park District (CPK), who has championed the efforts to monitor and maintain the lakeshore throughout the summer. In 2019, CPK began using new technologies to assess the current damage to the lakefront from flood erosion to provide innovative solutions to this longstanding problem. The department is currently compiling a data report that will be used to formulate a plan for action in the coming months.

“The Chicago Park District is committed to monitoring and rebuilding parts of the lakefront path that have been ruined as a result of flooding,” said Avis LaVelle, President of the Board of Commissioner. “Throughout the summer we’ve used various methods, including capturing drone footage of the entire lakefront, to monitor and asses the areas of the lakefront that need to be repaired or reinforced for the coming months, and we are pleased to have other departments assisting us in this effort.”

In order to complete installations of the new barriers, crews will be working during the overnight hours starting Tuesday, September 10 and continuing through the end of the month.

The Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) will also contribute to this project during peak flood times and storms. Monitoring will take place through cameras installed along the lakefront and frequent, proactive updates will be provided during storms to ensure residents are updated and staying safe.

The barriers will be installed along Lake Shore Drive from Oak Street to North Avenue and at Fullerton Avenue. Other North Side installation locations include Juneway Beach, Rogers Beach, Howard Beach and Granville Street. On the South Side, barriers will be installed from 49th to 50th Street and at 75th Street.

“Ensuring that the lakefront remains open and accessible to Chicagoans is a top priority for us,” said Tom Carney, acting Commissioner of CDOT. “The lakefront path is a vital means of transportation, and one of the many things that makes Chicago such a unique city. This effort is only one of many projects that will protect our lakefront and residents.”

Drivers using north bound Lake Shore Drive during overnight hours may encounter lane closures and are urged to use caution and be aware of heavy equipment and workers who will be installing barriers. 

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