If Cook County’s 5.9% ‘rona positivity score didn’t keep you inside over the weekend, you may have toddled over to Montrose Harbor for a breath of fresh lake air. On the way, you may have noticed that the area’s infrastructure isn’t everything it should be. Have no fear, CDOT is here.
This week, the Chicago Plan Commission will decide if the Chicago Department of Transportation will be allowed to rebuild four of the bridges in the greater Montrose Harbor metroplex. Among them are:
- The West Montrose Avenue bridge over the pedestrian path south of the cricket hill
- The West Wilson Drive bridge over the pedestrian path north of the football/soccer field
- The North Simonds Drive bridge over the pedestrian path just west of Montrose People Beach
- The North Simonds Drive bridge over the pedestrian path just west of Montrose Dog Beach
If you’ve never heard of North Simonds Drive, it’s the part of the Montrose-Wilson loop that goes north-south in front of the beach. It’s named for Ossian Simonds. He came to Chicago in 1879, and is person you can thank for the landscaping you enjoy during your strolls through Graceland Cemetery.
Even though these 1936 bridges are already part of CDOT’s domain, it needs permission from the Plan Commission to start this $20 million project because the structures are inside the Lakefront Protection zone. Swing a hammer in that area without the proper paperwork, and the City of Chicago will be on you like a flock of seagulls on an Uptown Style bagel from Everybody’s Coffee.
Don’t look for any style-busting designs here. The goal here is to fix a set of octogenarian bridges, and improve the lighting. CDOT is going for “architectural elements that will replicate the historical elements of the existing bridges.” Where possible, the original limestone cladding will be re-used.
If you live in one of the residential buildings fronting this slice of Chicago green, you may wonder why you haven’t heard anything about the rebuilding of bridges. That’s may be because of an interesting technicality in the city’s ordinances.
Generally speaking, anyone embarking on projects in Chicago that are large or special is required to send a letter to the neighbors letting them know about the plans well ahead of time. In this case, CDOT is required to tell anyone within 400 feet of the bridges. Since the bridges are deep inside the park, the only entities that had to be notified were the Chicago Park District, and the Department of Asset and Information Services.