The northern terminus of Lake Shore Drive was extended north to Hollywood Avenue in the 1950’s. With its high capacity and mobility, North Lake Shore Drive quickly became a popular commuter route between the near north suburbs and Chicago’s central business district upon its extension. This has resulted in increasingly higher amounts of automobile traffic as the northern suburbs have grown over the past six decades. As this has happened, mobility for residents in the Edgewater community has become increasingly challenging, especially for those traveling by foot or by bicycle.
Over the decades, community leaders and the Chicago Department of Transportation attempted several methods of managing the heavy traffic within the area, ranging from reversible lane operation on several arterials to signal timing improvements. However, few of these methods addressed travel by means other than the automobile, and most modifications only benefited the regional commuter traffic moving to and from Lake Shore Drive.
Beginning in the mid-1980’s, Edgewater community leaders and City officials began studying the area surrounding Lake Shore Drive’s northern terminus in an attempt to strike a better balance between regional travel needs and the needs of the residents of the Edgewater community. Several additional studies have been performed since that time, and many changes have been made in an effort to reduce traffic and congestion within the area.
Concerns still exist within the Edgewater community about pedestrian and bicycle access and safety, traffic congestion, and vehicle speeds within the area. The initiation of the Northern Terminus Traffic Study provides a unique opportunity to develop broad solutions aimed at both the need for regional access to Lake Shore Drive and the need of those living in Edgewater.