Federal Review of Jackson Park Improvements

Updated July 28, 2022


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.

Mitigation Measures: Updates and Notices

Memorandum of Agreement outlines eight mitigation measures that are to be completed as part of the approved alterations to Jackson Park. Status updates and notice of public comment periods, as applicable, surrounding those mitigation measures can be found below.

Midway Plaisance - East End Improvements
45-Day Public Review and Comment Period: 7/8/2022 – 8/22/22

All comments on the project materials should be submitted via the Review and Comment Period comment form.

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 on the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation website.

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: The NEPA EA has been released and is available for public comment.  Please visit the The National Park Service (NPS) Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website to view the EA and provide comments through Oct. 30, 2020.

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

Aug. 5, 2019

Section 106 Consulting Parties Meeting #3 and Public Open House

(presentation of draft AOE)

Jan. 16, 2020

Revised AOE Issued

Release of the above documents begins the review period during which time consulting parties may formally disagree with the effect findings in the final Assessment of Effects. Written objections must be received by 5 p.m. on Feb. 18, 2020, and must specify the reasons for the disagreement in your written notification. Letters should be emailed to Abby Monroe with the City of Chicago at abby.monroe@cityofchicago.org, with a copy to Matt Fuller with the Federal Highway Administration at matt.fuller@dot.gov.

Jan. 23, 2020

Webinar for Consulting Parties to Review AOE Changes

March 17, 2020

FHWA Response to Objection Letters (36 CFR 800.11[e]) submitted to ACHP

April 14, 2020

End of AOE Process

April 23, 2020

FHWA Submitted Draft Section 4(f) Evaluation to Officials with Jurisdiction (OWJ)

May 6, 2020

Webinar for Consulting Parties to provide information on resolving adverse effects and the purpose of mitigation measures

May 13, 2020

Mitigation Survey Issued

May 20, 2020

Webinar for Consulting Parties to focus on reviewing the ideas collected during the first meeting and results of a poll

July 9, 2020

Draft MOA issued for consulting party and public review (.pdf)

July 16, 2020

Webinar for Consulting Parties to review draft Memorandum of Agreement

Sept. 28, 2020

The National Park Service (NPS) issued an Environmental Assessment (EA) on its Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website:

A formal 30-day public comment period to provide comments on the Environmental Assessment, including the potential impacts analysis of the proposed alternatives, began Sept. 28, 2020 and ended Oct. 30, 2020. A hard copy of the Environmental Assessment was also available for review throughout the 30-day comment period at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive. Comments were chiefly accepted through the NPS PEPC website and by mail to DPD.

Oct. 13 and Oct. 14, 2020

EA Public Hearing Webinar Sessions

Oct. 15, 2020

For those unable to provide comments through the methods mentioned above, an opportunity was provided to speak with a court reporter in person at the South Shore Cultural Center.

Oct. 30, 2020

Webinar for Consulting Parties to view final MOA and discuss signature process

Comment Period Concludes for EA

Nov. 10, 2020

Final MOA For signature distributed

Dec. 17, 2020

Final approved MOA posted

Dec. 18, 2020

Final Section 4(f) document posted

Feb. 1, 2021

NEPA Determination

Winter 2021-22

Begin design review for the east end of the Midway Plaisance

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

Additional Resources

Section 106 Informational Materials

Annual Reports

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

Technical Memos

Army Corps of Engineers

National Register Nominations

Proposed Improvements to Jackson Park

City of Chicago Zoning Applications

Illinois DNR Permit

Relevant Executive Actions

Relevant Interagency Communications

Related Resources

Supporting Information Facts