DOUGLAS — Runners and bicyclists will be able to keep their distance from each other on a stretch of the Lakefront Trail on the South Side, officials announced Friday.
The first chunk of the trail to be separated to reduce congestion from 31st to 41st streets opened Friday morning, officials said.
"The lakefront is our defining characteristic," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. "With this investment the lakefront is a defining part of our future. This is our Grand Canyon, the lake is our Yellowstone Park."
Ald. Sophia King (4th) said she plans to use the new separated running trail during her daily jog from 47th Street to the suspension bridge at 35th Street and back.
"For me, this is like a dream come true," King said.
Work to separate the Lakefront Trail from Fullerton Avenue to Ohio Street and from 31st to 51st streets continues, officials said.
The entire 18-mile trail — from Ardmore Avenue to 71st Street — will have separate paths for bicyclists and pedestrians by 2018, officials said.
The flyover bridge connecting Navy Pier to the Lakefront Trail also is expected to be completed next year.
The Lakefront Trail draws more than 100,000 people daily on summer weekends, officials said.
Emanuel has made improving Chicago's parks and open spaces one of his highest priorities through what his administration calls the "Building on Burnham" plan. That plan is named for Daniel Burnham, the legendary "make no little plans" city designer credited with the greening of dirty industrial Chicago in the early 20th century.