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Mike Claffey 312.744.0707 Michael.Claffey@cityofchicago.org
Susan Hofer 312.742-2006 Susan.Hofer@cityofchicago.org
CHICAGO – The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) Commissioner Gia Biagi and 4th Ward Alderman Sophia King today broke ground on the third and final phase of a project to restore Drexel Boulevard. The full project to upgrade one of Chicago’s historic Boulevards, started in 2018, involves modernizing Drexel from Oakwood Boulevard to 51st Street. The work includes construction of new concrete pathways and ADA crosswalk ramps, installation of new irrigation systems and flower beds, and planting of new trees.
“Chicago’s Boulevards are one of our City’s most under-appreciated treasures, providing gorgeous green space and connecting neighborhoods to our great park system,” said CDOT Commissioner Gia Biagi. “The work we are doing to modernize Drexel Boulevard is intended to bring residents out into this space to make greater use of this valuable asset. This project also sets the stage for a comprehensive review of our Boulevard system that will look at ways we can leverage our resources to make additional investments in other parts of this network.”
“Drexel Boulevard is a historic treasure and I am very pleased to have worked with CDOT to provide these upgrades that will beautify the Boulevard and make it safer for everyone to get out and enjoy the winding pathways and the greenery that it offers,” Alderman King said.
The current phase covers from 47th Street to 51st Street. Work on the pathways is expected to be completed later this fall. Additional work on new ADA ramps and newly planted trees will begin in the spring of 2021.
Drexel Boulevard and Washington Park, which sits at its southern end, were designed by famed landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. Chicago’s Boulevard system covers 28 miles and contains 540 acres of greenspace. It links together seven inland parks and the parks along Lake Michigan shoreline. When the Boulevard was originally built in the second half the 19th Century, it was on the outskirts of the City. However, as Chicago has grown, about one in six City residents live within three blocks of the Boulevard system.
CDOT is planning to launch a comprehensive study of the City’s Boulevard system in 2021 with a focus on a developing a Framework Plan for future improvements for the Boulevards. The study will inventory existing conditions and planning documents, review opportunities for safety and Complete Streets improvements that are designed to accommodate all modes, including pedestrians, bicycle riders of all ages and people using wheel chairs. It will also identify opportunities for state of good repair improvements.
As part of the City’s Our Streets program, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Drexel Boulevard was transformed this year into one of 13 Shared Streets covering more than 100 City blocks. Through traffic restrictions, these streets were set up to slow down vehicular traffic and make roadways safer for all users including pedestrians, joggers and bikers.
For more information about Our Streets and COVID Mobility in Chicago, go to: https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/cdot/supp_info/covid-mobility.html