RIVER NORTH — The Navy Pier Flyover, the long-anticipated $64 million project that saw a series of stops and starts and took three mayors to complete, was officially declared open to bicyclists and runners Monday.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot cut the ceremonial ribbon on the concrete and steel bridge that carries the lakefront path over Grand Avenue, Illinois Street and the Chicago River, eliminating dangerous bottlenecks of cars, bikes, runners, strollers and more.
Downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) noted the project dated back to Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration, which worked on the planning and pre-construction work. The actual construction began in 2014 under Daley’s successor, Rahm Emanuel, and was set to be finished by 2018.
But delays plagued the project, leading to Monday’s victory lap by Lightfoot, who credited Daley and Emanuel for their earlier work.
“I’m happy to be a part of this — for the capstone of this important investment,” Lightfoot said.
The flyover not only sends the path over the Grand Avenue and Illinois Street bottlenecks, it creates a wider berth on the Lake Shore Drive bridge over the Chicago River, including two 16-foot-wide tunnels through the old bridge houses.
The work included widening the movable bridge over the Chicago River by cantilevering a new section on its east side. The bridge house work was part of the final phase of the project.
The flyover is nearly half a mile long, stretching from Jane Addams Park and the Ohio Street Beach on the north to DuSable Harbor on the south. It includes a ramp that connects the trail to Navy Pier.
“This is a legacy investment for the city of Chicago, infrastructure that will improve public safety dramatically,” Reilly said. “It was actually a solution to a problem that’s existed here for decades, a conflict between bicycles and vehicles here at Lower Lake Shore Drive at Grand and Illinois streets.”
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