Federal Review of Jackson Park Improvements

Updated Aug. 6, 2019


The City of Chicago, through the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), is working on several roadway improvement projects in Jackson Park that will support the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) and the South Lakefront Framework Plan update.

When these projects are completed, they will support a revitalized Jackson Park. Since it was originally designed by renowned landscape architects Olmsted & Vaux in 1871, Jackson Park has undergone multiple transformations in the last one hundred years which have altered the original design, including the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893.

The Chicago Park District’s South Lakefront Framework Plan (1999) outlined many of the proposed improvements now under consideration. The Park District recently completed a planning process (in April 2018) to update the South Lakefront Framework Plan, specifically for Jackson Park and South Shore Cultural Center. The 2018 Framework Plan update provides a plan for the next several years to respond to neighborhood needs and historic context, provide a vision for improvements, serve as a planning tool and outline priorities to deliver improvements in a coordinated manner.

Various proposed park projects and accompanying roadway changes within Jackson Park require a federal-level environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) as well as consultation under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and National Historic Preservation Act (Section 106)

NEPA requires federal agencies to assess the effects of their actions on the environment and Section 106 of the NHPA requires federal agencies to consider the effects of their actions on historic properties. There are different procedural requirements for each of these laws and they are commonly completed concurrently. For this project, the National Park Service will serve as the lead federal agency for the NEPA process and the FHWA will serve as the lead for the NHPA process.

This coordinated process is encouraged by recent federal policies announced in Executive Order 13807 and further detailed in a Memorandum of Understanding implementing the principle of “One Federal Decision” for proposed infrastructure projects.  This policy direction allows for a comprehensive review of all potential effects of the federal decisions.

Purpose of Federal Review

The purpose of this review is to provide a process for FHWA and NPS to work with the City of Chicago, the State Historic Preservation Office, other federal and state agencies, and the public to evaluate and, if necessary, mitigate the effects of their respective proposed actions, as described briefly below:

Federal Highway Administration – Proposed Action: Approval of potential funding for roadway improvements consistent with the City’s South Lakefront Framework Plan and in support of development of the Obama Presidential Center and City-initiated road closures.

National Park Service – Proposed Action: Determination and mitigation of any conversions of recreational uses to non-recreational within Urban Parks Recreation and Recovery Act (UPARR) designated areas (in this case, within Jackson Park only).

In addition to Section 106 and NEPA, Section 4(f) is a separate regulatory requirement that protects publicly owned parks, recreation areas, wildlife and waterfowl refuges, and privately and publicly owned historic properties and which only applies to FHWA actions. For more information, visit the 4(f) Tutorial on the FHWA's website or download a PDF summary.

Jackson Park

Public Participation for Section 106

Community input will aid the City and Federal agencies in the identification of important cultural landscape features, architectural and ecological resources, and impacts to these resources.

To facilitate these discussions, the City will host community events as we move through the process.

Certain parties, such as the State Historical Preservation Officer and local government representatives, are designated “consulting parties” in the Section 106 process. Other individuals or organizations may be invited to become consulting parties as well, or they may request consulting party status. More information on the role and designation of a consulting party can be found in the Citizen’s Guide to the Section 106 Process.

More information on the Section 106 process can be found at the following link: www.achp.gov/106summary.html.

Public Participation for NEPA

To facilitate public comment under NEPA, the City will host an initial informational meeting and a second public meeting to review the draft environmental assessment (EA).

Please note: NEPA information released online to date only reflects FHWA’s alternatives analysis of roadway improvements. NEPA information released in the future under NPS will discuss alternatives for both Federal actions. When the draft EA is released, the public may send comments via email to DPD@cityofchicago.org or attend a NEPA public meeting.

For more information on the NEPA process, please visit the FHWA website.

Key Federal Review Milestones

(Past dates in gray; anticipated dates subject to change)

December 1, 2017

Section 106 Consulting Parties Meeting #1

(presentation of Section 106 process, draft Area of Potential Effect (APE) maps, and draft list of historic resources)

Materials: Presentationhandoutposter-boardsmeeting summarycomment letters

March 19, 2018

Section 106 Historic Properties Inventory Report and Archaeology Reports issued for review by consulting parties and the general public

Public comment on these reports was accepted for 30 days, until April 19, 2018. The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) provided concurrence on the archaeology report linked above on March 28, 2018.

March 29, 2018

Section 106 Consulting Parties Meeting #2 

(presentation of Historic Properties Inventory and Archaeology Reports and process for evaluation of potential effects)

View a webinar of the event

View the meeting summary (.pdf)

July 27, 2018

Final Historic Properties Inventory (HPI) Report Issued

The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) provided concurrence on the Historic Properties Inventory and its appendices on July 10, 2018.

Sept. 17, 2018

Initial NEPA Public Information Meeting
(includes FHWA’s initial evaluation of roadway improvement alternatives, which have already been released and are linked below)

July 29, 2019

Draft Assessment of Effects (AOE) Issued

Written public comment on these reports will be accepted at abby.monroe@cityofchicago.org until 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30

Aug. 5, 2019

Section 106 Consulting Parties Meeting #3 and Public Open House

(presentation of draft Assessment of Effects)

Fall 2019

Section 106 Consulting Parties Meeting #4

(presentation of draft mitigation measures and draft Memorandum of Agreement, if necessary)

Fall 2019

Section 106 Memorandum of Agreement Finalized

Winter 2019

NEPA Public Meeting to Review Draft Environmental Assessment

Spring 2020

Federal Decision on NEPA Environmental Assessment

Spring 2020

Public Process to Design Midway Plaisance UPARR Recreation Improvements Begins

Public comment will be accepted throughout this process at dpd@cityofchicago.org.

Additional Resources

Section 106 Informational Materials

Area of Potential Effects – Archaeology Map

This draft map depicts the areas of Jackson Park where historic artifacts may be found underground and will guide the excavation process to confirm.

Area of Potential Effects – Architecture/Landscape Map

This draft map depicts the boundary around Jackson Park where environmental impacts will be evaluated. The boundary is larger than the park itself to consider any impacts to adjacent properties or properties within the viewshed of the proposed development.

Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Act (UPARR) Grant Documentation

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Documents

Federal Highway Administration

National Park Service

  • Documents for public review forthcoming in fall 2019

Technical Memos

National Register Nominations

Proposed Improvements to Jackson Park

City of Chicago Zoning Applications

Relevant Executive Actions

Relevant Interagency Communications

 Supporting Information Facts

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