Highlights Of CDOT’S Major Transportation Projects In 2015

December 31, 2015

Mike Claffey     312.744.0707 | Michael.Claffey@cityofchicago.org

Susan Hofer    312.742.2006 | Susan.Hofer@cityofchicago.org

Under the direction of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, 2015 was a year for major improvements to the City’s transportation system carried out by the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT). Expanding and improving the city’s infrastructure is critical to long-term economic growth, improving the quality of life for our residents, increasing safety for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians and improving the environment.

Almost 300 miles of residential and arterial streets were repaved or reconstructed, including busy stretches of Lake Shore Drive and Loop arterial streets.  Miles of alternative transportation options were created, including the 606, Riverwalk and reconfiguration of the Lakefront Trail.  And the transit system became easier to access for hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans as CDOT worked with its sister agency the CTA to build or restore major CTA stations.

Bridge and Roadway Projects

CDOT, along with its public partner agencies including the Department of Water Management and private utilities, repaved almost 300 miles of City streets in 2015, making sure to coordinate maintenance and repair of the public way with utility services, water and sewer upgrades, and private development.

Construction was completed on several major bridge projects, including restoration of the 18th Street Bridge over the south branch of the Chicago River, an important link that serves the city’s near south side, including the South Loop and Chinatown.  The Cortland Street Bridge over the north branch of the Chicago River was also rebuilt – completed early and under budget. 

CDOT also completed a new bridge project to reconfigure pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle traffic at the intersection of 130th and Torrence Ave., near the Ford plant. The project, part of the CREATE program, eliminated two at-grade crossings where vehicles crossed freight tracks. Approximately 24 freight trains and 32,000 vehicles move through the intersection each day. Train movements stopped vehicle traffic for up to 20 minutes at a time.  Completing this project eliminated the idling of thousands of vehicles each day; it will also save fuel and improve air quality.

New streetscape work was completed on Roosevelt Road to improve the connections between mass transit and the Museum Campus and Soldier Field.  The project upgrades the capacity for handling thousands of pedestrians who flock through the area on special event days and also provides a new protected bike lane, larger capacity bus shelters and a new gateway to those venues.

CDOT completed the resurfacing of one of the busiest sections of North Lake Shore Drive, between Grand and North Avenues, including the Oak Street S-curve.  The resurfacing will extend the life of the roadway and make driving safer for the 140,000 vehicles that use the road every day.

CDOT, working with the State, completed a new access bridge at Balmoral Avenue that connects Rosemont to Interstate I-190, I-294 and O’Hare Airport.  This new access gives the airport's 70 million annual passengers a convenient alternative route to save time and avoid traffic congestion. 

Urban Trails and Green Space

Chicago has committed to maximizing the options for using the public way by creating new green spaces, offering recreational and transportation options and, when possible, creating a safe separation for bicyclists, pedestrians, commuters and motorists.  

The Chicago River is one of our city’s greatest – and most underutilized – natural assets. Located along the main branch of the Chicago River, the Riverwalk is being extended as a continuous walkway and recreational amenity connecting the lakefront with the heart of downtown.  It turns the valuable, underused real estate along the river into an attraction for city residents and tourists alike.  Phase II of Riverwalk opened on schedule in 2015 and the final phase will create a continuous 1.25 mile promenade from Lake Michigan to Lake Street along the south shore of the Chicago River. 

Since 2011, Chicago has installed 106 miles of protected bicycle lanes – more than any other city in America -- now giving the City 292 miles of designated bike lanes. Over the next four years, the City is committed to installing 50 miles of better bike lanes. Investing in bike lanes is essential to growing Chicago’s economy and improving the quality of life of its residents. 

The City of Chicago was honored for having two of “America’s 10 Best New Bike Lanes of 2015” by the bicycling advocacy group People For Bikes: the new barrier protected bike lane on Clybourn, constructed by the Illinois Department of Transportation; and the new two-way protected bike lane on Clinton Street in the West Loop, built by CDOT as part of the Loop Link project.

The 2.7 mile 606 trail has turned an old railroad embankment into a recreational trail and park system on the northwest side, a major investment in green space that benefits neighborhood residents and people throughout Chicago. The trail’s development was a joint project with the Trust for Public Land, the Chicago Park District and Department of Planning and Development; CDOT constructed the park and trail system which includes six ground-level parks, a wheel-friendly event plaza, an observatory, various art installations, educational programming, and other amenities. The 606 also serves as a community connector for the Bucktown, Wicker Park, Logan Square, and Humboldt Park neighborhoods, turning the physical barrier of old railroad embankments into a unifying park and elevated trail system.

In addition, Divvy completed its first major expansion since opening.   Chicago’s bike share system now reaches as far north as Touhy Avenue, as far south as 75th Street and as far west as Pulaski Road. Divvy now offers a total of 475 stations and 4,760 bikes across 86.7 square miles, giving Chicago the largest service area in North America. Divvy’s expansion, from the previous number of 300 stations and 3,000 bikes, roughly doubles its service area in Chicago, from 44.1 square miles to 86.7 square miles. There are currently 475 stations serving 38% of the City’s geographic area and 57% of its residents with almost 32,000 members. Divvy for Everyone was launched in 2015 to improve access for low-income residents

The City of Chicago, in partnership with the Chicago Park District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers created a new park, bike and pedestrian path at Fullerton Avenue as part of the Chicago Shoreline Protection Project. The project included the construction of a new 5.8 acre park, primarily to stabilize the shore and to protect Lake Shore Drive and Fullerton Avenue.  Also added were new bicycle and pedestrian paths.  The new paths, which also involved the relocation of the existing lakefront trail, ease traffic and improve safety by providing separate paths for faster moving and slower moving lakefront trail users.  

The West Ridge Nature Preserve is an oasis of natural woodlands created out of a parcel of land that was unused and inaccessible for decades. The land was acquired by the City from Rosehill in 2011 and some of the funding for the project was secured by Mayor Emanuel during his service in the U. S. Congress. The wooded site at the southeast corner of Western Avenue and Peterson Ave is characterized by rolling topography, mixed woodlands with deciduous trees. Its central feature is a 4.5-acre pond. 


CDOT has worked with Metra, RTA and CTA to improve mass transit rail and bus for commuters and visitors alike. 

Loop Link, a major modernization of the downtown transportation network reached substantial completion and started providing service on December 20. It has created an easier, safer and more reliable commute to and through Chicago’s downtown.   Loop Link provides a balanced separation of CTA bus, bike and regular traffic with dedicated lanes on Washington, Madison, Clinton and Canal. The new configuration improves reliability and speed for six CTA bus routes that travel the corridor and extends benefits to neighborhoods throughout the city where these routes originate.

In 2015, CDOT completed the construction of a new CTA Green line station at Cermak, serving both Chinatown and McCormick Place. The new station, near the intersection of Cermak Road and State Street, provides much-needed access to rapid transit for Near South Side residents and businesses. It fills in a major gap in CTA service that has existed in the 2.5 mile stretch between Roosevelt and 35th/IIT stations since the previous Cermak station at that location was demolished in 1977.  It will also provide convenient rail access to McCormick Place, which is two blocks east.

Working with CTA, the original Clark/Division Street Red Line station was completely renovated and expanded. This is the first major renovation of the Clark/Division station since it opened during World War II. The project was completed in two stages. In the first phase, CDOT built an entirely new mezzanine and entrance at LaSalle Street and Division Street. The new 8,800-square-foot mezzanine at LaSalle Street increased the entering/exiting capacity of the station by adding stairs, fare turnstiles, elevators and escalators. The second stage involved modernizing the existing entrances and the mezzanine at Clark Street. The station previously had no elevators.   With the opening of the entrances at Clark Street, customers can now enter or exit the station at LaSalle Street or Clark Street, improving the experience for station users, particularly at high traffic times.

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