For Columbia College Chicago Students, Kate Lichter and Paola Lizarraga Cuaron, the Navy Pier Flyover delay is a great inconvenience. The two roommates are frequent pedestrians on the Lakefront trail. They expressed confusion when told that the project will be delayed until 2019. After a decade of planning and construction, there were unforeseen structural repairs.
“I think it’s kind of crazy that they didn’t plan well enough,” Kate Lichter, 19, of Des Moines said, “It [the flyover] will make things easier, so I don’t have to maneuver around everything and try to find a different route.”
Phase one and two of the project have been completed. The third phase is still in progress, which will run over the Depression-era Lake Shore Drive bascule bridge. At completion, the flyover will cost over the previously anticipated $60 million.
An expert on this subject, Kyle Whitehead, an advocate for the Active Transportation Alliance spoke about the significance of the delay. He explains that a main reason for the postponement is the lack of prioritization for biking and walking projects.
“The mayor has made transit, biking and walking a priority and we have seen a lot of improvements,” Whitehead explains, “We still don’t think it has the prominence that roadway projects do.”
Transit improvements in reliability and speed is especially important to residents without personal vehicles, like many college students. Theatre major Paola Lizarraga Cuaron plans to utilize the flyover after constructed. She discussed how the delay is affecting her.
“This summer it has been affecting me,” Cuaron, 21, of Mexico City said, “So I think it’s annoying because you want to walk there [to navy pier] and be safe.”
With Navy Pier being the busiest tourist attraction, the area is highly trafficked. Safety for drivers and pedestrians like Cuaron and Lichter is priority, according to Kyle Whitehead. Although he is against the delay, he agrees that the problem does need to be resolved and done correctly rather than quickly.
“I had hoped the lesson is to try to identify some of the possible issues up front. It’s not unheard of for a major infrastructure project like this to get delayed, we could all probably think of other examples, but I think this has become such a big story because it is such a visible project and their is such a need for it.”
Whitehead goes on to explain the environmental significance of an infrastructure like this. In an urban community like Chicago, more people are looking for healthy alternatives to driving. The need for projects like the flyover stems from young people like roommates Kate and Paola caring about the earth.
“So there’s definitely an environmental aspect to projects like this,” Whitehead said, “We wanna make it easier for people and safer for people to bike and walk and use more sustainable forms of transportation.”
Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons.
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