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The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) have begun a study to improve North Lake Shore Drive. The study encompasses the area between Grand Avenue and Hollywood Avenue along North Lake Shore Drive. Google map here.

More than one hundred years ago, architect and planner Daniel Burnham inspired Chicago to “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood” and this grand vision inspired the public lakefront and Lake Shore Drive, which we enjoy today. The North Lake Shore Drive Study offers a rare opportunity to continue to enhance North Lake Shore Drive.

The citizens of Chicago and all regional users will have the chance to provide input on how they use the Drive and how we can meet travel demands of all users in the corridor.

Help us redefine North Lake Shore Drive!

Latest News

December 2014

View the current Purpose & Need Statement (PDF 9MB)

We are pleased to announce that we have recently received concurrence on the project’s Purpose & Need Statement from all of the necessary regulatory and resource agencies. This includes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The North Lake Shore Drive Purpose & Need Statement has changed since it was posted in May of 2014. Project stakeholders have provided extensive and valuable input that has allowed the Project Study Group to enhance the draft Purpose & Need Statement and better focus it on the diverse needs that exist in the project area. Since the draft Purpose & Need Statement was posted, the project team has reviewed your feedback, made revisions to the document and sought concurrence on the revised document from regulatory and resource agencies that are partners in the NEPA/404 Merger process.

The current Purpose and Need Statement documents the following needs:

  • Improve safety for all users.
  • Improve mobility for all users.
  • Address infrastructure deficiencies.
  • Improve access and circulation.

This document will guide development of the project alternatives and, eventually, the preferred alternative. You can also review the list of regulatory and resource agencies in the Stakeholder Involvement Plan.

The Purpose & Need Statement for a project is essential to establishing a basis for the development of the range of reasonable alternatives required in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and assists with the identification and eventual selection of a preferred alternative. It is also an important first step in the NEPA/404 Merger Process which ultimately will assure that all applicable environmental laws, executive orders, and regulations are considered and addressed prior to the final project decision and document approval. The Merger Process allows transportation officials to make project decisions that balance engineering and transportation needs with social, economic, and natural environmental factors.

Please note that the Project Study Group has reviewed all of the improvement ideas and suggestions that we received from stakeholders and the public. We are using that data to develop a wide range of improvement concepts for the study corridor. In addition, we are formulating the criteria that will be used to evaluate the alternatives.

To learn more about the EIS process and Purpose & Need Statement you can review these materials:  The Importance of Purpose & Need Statement in Environmental Documents, Task Force Meeting #2 Presentation, or the Public Meeting #1 presentation.

October 2014

Top 20 Ideas to Redefine the Drive - View the PDF

July 2014

Over 330 people attended the second North Lake Shore Drive public meeting on July 8th, which was held at The Drake Hotel. Members of the public were able to review exhibits, watch a PowerPoint presentation, and sketch ideas on how to improve North Lake Shore Drive. Participants were able to sketch, write or use an online mapping application to convey their thoughts.

Public meeting materials are provided here.

March 2014

The seven NLSD Task Forces met in early February. Each task force group received the same presentation covering the project process, the first round of task force meetings, the draft Problem Statement and the Purpose & Need outline. Participants had an opportunity to provide feedback on the draft Problem Statement in an open discussion format. After the Purpose & Need Statement outline was presented participants were asked to work with a facilitator & note-taker in small previously-assigned breakout groups to provide their input. After the breakout sessions, the note-taker reported out the information from each group. The meeting concluded with an update on next steps and final questions were addressed. To learn more about the Task Forces and review the meeting materials, click here.
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Photo Gallery
  • 1935 – Looking north along Lake Shore Drive at Belmont Avenue
    © Chicago Park District Special Collections

  • 1930s – Ohio Street Beach
    © Chicago Park District Special Collections

  • 1937– Division Street Pedesrtian Underpass Entrance
    © Chicago Park District Special Collections

  • 1942 – Looking south along Lake Shore Drive at Belmont Avenue
    © Chicago Park District Special Collections

  • 1945 - Lincoln Park Extension-Waveland Golf Course Looking South
    © Chicago Park District Special Collections

  • Lakefront during the early 20th Century
    © Chicago Park District Special Collections

  • 1958 - Lincoln Park Extension-Foster to Hollywood Aerial Looking South
    © Chicago Park District Special Collections

  • 2009 – Aerial view looking west near Navy Pier
    © Photography by Brian Fritz

  • 2009 – Aerial view looking northwest near Montrose Avenue
    © Photography by Brian Fritz

  • 2012 – Looking south from the Passerelle Bridge north of LaSalle Drive

  • 2012 – Looking southeast at Buena Avenue pedestrian underpass

  • 2012 – Looking north along Lakefront Trail at Chicago Avenue

  • 2013 – Northbound Belmont Avenue exit ramp during evening rush hour.

  • 2014 – Belmont Harbor Dog Beach

  • 2014 – Diversy Harbor - On Fullerton Looking North

  • 2014 – Divvy Bike Station - Michigan and Oak

  • 2014 – Lakefront Path at Oak Street Curve looking South

  • 2014 – Looking North from Passerelle Bridge

  • 2014 – Montrose Point Scenic View

  • 2014 – Oak Street Beach Air and Water Show Crowd

  • 2014 – Seagulls on pier near Fullerton

  • 2014 – NB Exit traffic at Irving Park