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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

This Winter’s Storms Have Left Accessible Boardwalks A Mess At South Side Beaches

The accessible walkways at 57th Street, 63rd Street, South Shore and Rainbow beaches are all unusable for people in wheelchairs or with strollers.

The walkways at 57th Street Beach sit on top of downed fences near the entrance March 2.
Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
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SOUTH SHORE — Winter storms and rising lake levels have impacted everything from historic homes to dog beaches along the city’s lakefront.

The accessible walkways at South Side beaches have been no exception.

At 57th and 63rd Street beaches, dismantled walkways are piled off to the side. It is unclear if this is the result of high waves or if someone has placed them there. Debris and sand prevents access for wheelchairs or strollers at South Shore and Rainbow beaches.

Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
Sand covers the walkway at Rainbow Beach March 2.
Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
Part of the walkway at 63rd Street Beach is intact but damaged, with other pieces piled near the beach house and Reggies on the Beach.
Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
Washed up rocks, bricks and other debris make the intact walkway at South Shore Beach impassible for wheelchairs or strollers.

At 63rd Street and Rainbow Beach, a few pieces of walkway — like rubber connectors and wooden planks with rusted nails — are strewn across the beach.

Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
Walkway connectors and a wooden plank sit in a concrete planter at the 63rd Street beach house.
Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
A plank with exposed rusted nails sits at Rainbow Beach March 2.

The Chicago Park District is “working to assess and address damage that storms caused to our entire shoreline,” spokesperson Irene Tostado said by email Tuesday. It is unclear if cleanup efforts specific to South Side beach walkways have already begun.

“Accessible walkways and other lakefront features are also a part of the greater shoreline assessment study the Park District is doing to determine what areas need repairs most urgently,” Tostado said.

The district’s response did not address specifics, like a timeline and estimated cost of repairs or how the district would prevent future damage to walkways once repairs are completed.

Beaches in the city do not open until Memorial Day.

“As we approach beach season … we are working with elected officials, the city and other sister agencies to make repairs and provide access to beachgoers of all abilities,” Tostado said.

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