SOUTH SHORE — Construction is set to begin Monday at Arthur Ashe Beach Park as the city works to protect the south lakefront from erosion and flooding.
The park at 2701 E. 74th St. will be closed for six weeks as Park District and Department of Transportation crews complete the “emergency stabilization and shore protection” project, according to a Chicago Department of Transportation letter.
The emergency repairs include replacing guardrails, relocating compromised barrier wall blocks and placing additional armored stone rubble along the shoreline, agency spokesperson Susan Hofer said. The project is estimated to cost $1 million.
“Private parking lot access will remain open [during construction], but residents are advised to seek alternatives to 74th Street parking,” the letter reads.
Renovations to the park’s warped concrete barrier wall have “been a long time coming,” said Qae-Dah Muhammad, president of the Arthur Ashe Park Advisory Council.
The damage to the park is a prime example of how climate change, erosion and other “forces of nature can destroy our beautiful scenic views and parks,” Muhammad said, adding she’s “really happy to know” the city is taking protective action.
Muhammad hopes to see the city, state and federal governments continue to protect “the whole stretch” of the south lakefront, following up on officials’ meeting with South Shore residents and a tour of erosion damage in the neighborhood in August.
Since forming the South Side Lakefront Erosion Task Force in December 2019, residents have pushed to secure funding from all levels of government to address lakefront erosion.
The task force is backed by state Reps. Curtis Tarver (D-25th) and Kam Buckner (D-26th), as well as Ald. Greg Mitchell (7th). The organizing effort comes after decades of delays in addressing lakefront erosion on the South Side.
“Neighbors to the right and left of me have experienced some really harsh damage to their beaches,” Muhammad said. “Buildings along the lakefront should not be considered breakwaters.”
A $3 million project to repair the Lakefront Trail and protect the surrounding area from high water levels, underway just north of South Shore in Jackson Park, is scheduled for completion early this year.
The Park District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are also partnering on a $3 million emergency revetment project at Morgan Shoal from 45th to 51st streets, as reported by the Hyde Park Herald.
“Due to funding shortfalls, no schedule for completion is available at this time” for the Morgan Shoal project, according to the Army Corps’ website.
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