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Roosevelt Road Bike Lane Construction Kicks Off

 Plans call for a tree-lined bike and pedestrian path that will connect the Roosevelt Road CTA station to Grant Park.
Tree-Lined Roosevelt Road Bike Path Renderings
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SOUTH LOOP — Crews have begun preliminary work on a tree-lined bike and pedestrian path on a high- traffic section of Roosevelt Road between State Street and Indiana Avenue — a path that will feature inspirational messages in the ground to encourage people to head to Grant Park, officials said.

The new two-way bike and pedestrian path will connect the Roosevelt Road CTA station to the southern end of Grant Park. Part of the new path will include trees on a raised parkway protecting bikers and walkers from traffic, which is different than most protected bike lanes in the city.

Lizzie Schiffman explains the new Roosevelt Road bike/walking path:

While crews began preparing the site this week, major construction on the path won't start until July 1. Chicago Department of Transportation crews will begin at the west end of the path and work east, and are set to be done by Dec. 1, according to Bob O'Neill, president of the Grant Park Conservancy.

The work will overlap with construction on the Grant Park skate park, which abuts the pathway at the Downtown park's southernmost point and also is being built this summer.

The plan includes widening the sidewalks, planting trees, adding a paved walking path, building a canopy at the Roosevelt CTA station and painting color-coded path indicators on the street.

According to renderings of the new path, trees will line either side of an 8-foot wide, two-way bike path on the north side of Roosevelt Road between Wabash and Indiana avenues.

But the entire path will not be protected by trees, and cyclists will still have to maneuver through a busy section of Roosevelt between State Street and Wabash Avenue with no physical barriers from cars and buses.

On that stretch, the path splits into two single-direction, 6-foot wide bike lanes on the north and south sides of the street. While there will be trees, they will separate a sidewalk from bus lanes, bike lanes and regular traffic lanes.

Cycling activist Steve Vance, who maintains the Chicago Bike Guide, tweeted that the "change in bike lanes on Roosevelt between State and Wabash is not an improvement over existing" conditions for riders there.

One rendering also shows the addition of a crosswalk across Roosevelt Road at the CTA station's exit, between State and Wabash.

To add intrigue and encourage pedestrians to make the trek from State and Roosevelt to Grant Park and the Museum Campus, plans call for graphic text inlaid in the pathways with words like "prosper," "witness," "plan" and "believe."

Neighborhood landmarks like Buckingham Fountain, Burnham Harbor and Northerly Island also will get a nod in the proposed art installations, according to city plans.

"The idea is to connect people, to really feel like there's a connection from the station to the lakefront," said O'Neill, who advises city agencies on improvements to Grant Park and other Downtown green space. "To make it so that people walk, and it's an enjoyable walk, and people bike, and it's an enjoyable bike."

Roosevelt Road has marked bike lanes that extend west from Wabash past Ashland Avenue, but cyclists say the lanes are often not respected by drivers and pedestrians.

One rider compared the experience of biking the street to the arcade game "Frogger."

Landscape architecture firm Altamanu designed both the bike path and the adjacent skate park.