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Construction on Lakefront Path To Begin This Fall

Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Evanston Roundtable
by Mary Helt Gavin

A $550,000 grant from the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program will allow the City to implement phase one of the lakefront path plan by building separate pedestrian and bicycle paths in the parks between Clark and Lee streets.

The plan, presented at a public meeting on June 4, differs little from the master plan adopted by the City earlier this year, said Greg Weykamp of EDAW, the City's consultant on the project. The main changes are additional curves that circumnavigate rather than eliminate trees and accommodate grade differences not discernible from the aerial photographs used in the early stages of planning. Also because of trees and grade, the two paths will abut each other at a few points along the way, he said.

Discussion ran high on almost every aspect of the plan, as many of the nearly two dozen people at the meeting had attended some of the planning workshops held last year.

The new asphalt bike path will be 12 feet wide, with a center dividing strip, said Drew Millard of EDAW. The pedestrian path, 6 feet wide, will be composed of crushed, compact gravel, he said, and will accommodate wheelchairs. In response to a question from Mary Friedl, who uses a wheelchair, he said the gravel is "ADA-compliant." Paul D'Agostino, superintendent of the City's Parks/Forestry Division, said the material would be the same as that used for paths in the Chicago Botanic Gardens. Ms. Friedl said a label of ADA-compliance "means nothing to me," but said she would check out the Botanic Garden trails.

"Dark-sky lighting" will be used along the path, said Stan Wang, also of EDAW. "Viewed from space, Chicago is one of the brightest cities in the world," he said. Dark-sky lighting, in which light is beamed downward from a central source, reduces glare and increases the field of vision, thus improving safety, he said. Dark-sky lighting is used already in Eggleston, Lawson and Lovelace parks, among others, said Stephanie Levine of the City's Parks/Forestry Division.

David Reynolds, who lives on Sheridan Road across from one of the parks the paths would traverse, said he thought the light fixtures proposed for the path were "not suitable for Evanston. ...They are very out-of-character for the lakefront path." He said he did not like the "slender post, and the fixture looks like [something from] a European railroad. ... It is not suitable for the lakefront and an historic district."

Mr. Wang said EDAW would consult with members of the Evanston History Center and others to try to find another type of street lamp.

The final project of the evening entailed discussion of the furniture along the paths - benches, water fountains, and refuse and recycling bins. In addition to selecting from several styles for certain areas of the path, audience members were asked to indicate their preference of materials - wood, metal or recycled plastic. Examples of styles and materials will be posted on the City's website, www.cityofevanston.org, within a few weeks, Mr. D'Agostino said.

In addition to constructing the paths, phase one of the project includes relocating the boat ramp and the sailboat lots further north to Clark Street. Work is scheduled to begin in late summer or early fall, Ms. Levine said.



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